In Sept. 2016 Dr. A. (Sasha) Zhernakova was awarded an ERC Starting grant to study:
“ The role of the virome in shaping the gut ecosystem during the first year of life”.
She will study the development of gut flora in newborns. At birth, babies have a limited number of bacteria and viruses in their guts. These increase during the first twelve months, eventually forming a stable colony of gut flora (the microbiome). She will try to discover how the viruses and bacteria develop and how this affects babies’ health. She will study both genetic factors and environmental factors, such as diet, vaccinations and disease. Data from LifeLines-Next, a project that is collecting samples and information from 1,500 babies during their first year of life will be used in this research.