dr. Marta Calatayud (PhD)
FWO Postdocotral researcher - Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET), UGent
Cell lab responsible of the Host-Microbe Interaction Technology group
Principal investigator: Prof. Tom Van de Wiele
My research focus is mainly focused on the development of in vitro technology platforms of the digestive system and host-microbiome processes.
In vitro models try to mimic the complexity of the human body in the lab. This is a challenging process, in continuous development. Our digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract and all the accessory organs, and it is directly involved in the breakdown of food and solubilization of food components. As a key element of the digestive system, the human microbiome is directly involved in the metabolism of the food components but is rarely considered in our current in vitro methods. At the host-microbiome technology lab, we are developing more representative models of the digestive processes including oral, small intestine, and colonic microbiomes to better understand bioaccessibility processes of potentially beneficial or harmful compounds ingested from food.
In a further step, we combine the digestive models with interphase-host models composed of different cell lines (enterocyte, goblet, hepatic and immune-like cells). In this way, we can better simulate in a dish the complex interplay between the environmental factors (e.g., food, xenobiotics), the host, and the microbiome. Our final goal is to attain more realistic in vitro models for improved translational in vitro/in vivo research.
In collaboration with Dr. Hernandez-Sanabria and M.Sc. El Hage, we are applying the models described above to assess the interplay between environmental pollutants, gut microbiome, and the host; to evaluate the effect of “smart probiotics” on gut-liver axis; and to characterize the impact of gut microbiome on anti-inflammatory properties of drugs.