My name is Susanne Pinto, I am 25 years old and I currently work at the Leiden University Medical Center and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
I recently started my PhD with a very special title: Ecology meets human health. We aim to characterize the dynamics and reconstruct the network of microbial interactions in the human body, because human health is profoundly impacted by the microbial populations residing on and within our bodies. Several diseases involving inflammation (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease) or infection of epithelial tissues (e.g. of the respiratory tract) are associated with a dysbiosis in the microbiota. We propose and extend existing quantitative approaches drawn from systems ecology and epidemiology to uncover the mechanisms that control microbial ecosystems. This knowledge may ultimately be used to establish ‘early warning signals’ and prognostic models for clinical use.