Microbial communities (“microbiomes”) that populate human body surfaces impact health in many critical, yet enigmatic ways: They contribute to vital body functions via complex metabolic and immunomodulatory activities but are, at the same time, major reservoirs for facultative pathogens that cause the majority of invasive bacterial infections. A worldwide increase in antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens (ARBPs), coupled with declining discoveries of novel classes of antibiotics, raises the specter of a post-antibiotic era. Preventing the spread, human colonization, and subsequent infection by ARBPs is essential in preserving fundamental medical achievements of the 20th century. Broad-spectrum antimicrobials in current use both damage microbiomes and promote rapid ARBP evolution. A paradigm shift in infection control is needed, putting a hold to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics and enabling the development of targeted anti-infective strategies that promote microbiome integrity. Beneficial ‘commensal’ bacteria can limit the expansion of facultative pathogens in microbiomes but we are far from harnessing these mechanisms for therapeutic interventions.
The scientists of the Cluster of Excellence "Controlling Microbes to Fight Infections" (CMFI) aim to elucidate the mechanisms of interaction between beneficial and harmful bacteria in order to make them useful for targeted therapeutic interventions.
Our Research Areas are: