In celebrating the first ever World Microbiome Day 27th June 2018, APC Microbiome Ireland sought nominations of community groups, organisations, individuals, industry and scientists whose activities help us to “Mind our Microbes”. The aim is to help raise awareness and encourage public dialogue on the critical awareness of microbes and to acknowledge individuals and organisations whose actions benefit and impact on all our lives.

All “Microbiome Hero” nominations received were considered by a panel of reviewers and the following individuals and organisations are being recognised as Microbiome Heroes for 2018. Each Microbiome Hero will receive a Microbiome Hero certificate.

The #microbiomehero award process was quite simple. Anyone could nominate an individual or organisation they felt made a contribution to microbiomes or its research no matter how big or small. This was done by email or Twitter.

All nominees were checked for eligibility for making a contribution to microbiomes at some level – self nominations were deemed ineligible. This nomination review and awardee selection was carried out by the APC Microbiome Ireland Education and Public Engagement review panel which incl. Catherine Buckley, Eimear Ferguson, Ger Clarke, Orla O’Sullivan and Eileen O’Herlihy. #WorldMicrobiomeDay is an initiative launched this year by APC Microbiome Ireland which saw events happening around the world on the 27th June to celebrate & raise awareness of the importance of the microbiome. We hope next year more will join us to make it a bigger and better event! In the meantime hope we all #MindOurMicrobes!


Community Microbiome Heroes


Cornstore restaurants in Cork and Limerick promote digestive health by hosting themed nights with specially designed menus to support good gut bacteria e.g. Food For Thought and Love Your Gut


Dearbhla Reynolds is passionate about fermentation and has taught hundreds of workshops to pass on her knowledge of the subject. She has written The Cultured Club, a fabulously funky fermentation recipe “cook” book.


Donal loves nature and is passionate about soil health, and humans’ relationship with nature and the soil. He shares his enthusiasms infectiously and generously, and is very clear about the importance of our being closer to nature for human happiness and wellbeing. As well as his composting work, Donal does a lot of community-based environmental work such as nature education.

Bernie Glynn, known in the school as the Garden Guru engages the students during break times in digging, weeding, planting and harvesting in the polytunnel and sensory garden. She also initiated the creation of a bug hotel. Carmel Moclairn is Science Coordinator and has focused on the Microbiome for this year’s school ‘Science Day’. Carmel Moore, organized the planting of one hundred trees in the school field for future generations of children. She also leads the ‘Fresh Air Club’ which involves exploring and free, child-led learning one morning a week outdoors in our natural surroundings.


Mad About Cork is a voluntary group who making positive changes in derelict and run-down spaces in the Cork city through various projects including planting and city gardening which encourages and supports urban microbiomes.


Slí Eile which operates through two non-profit charitable companies provides a safe haven and supports to mental health recovery. Their programme helps to promote a healthy body and healthy mind in keeping with the gut-brain microbiome connection. Their organic farm also has a positive impact on the environment. It’s Farm shop & Café is open every Saturday where you can buy fresh organic produce.


The Shedd Aquarium Microbiome Project is at the forefront of microbiome research and is the world’s first comprehensive look at microbiomes in a controlled aquarium ecosystem. Under the leadership of Dr. Bill Van Bonn, this not-for profit initiative is uncovering and advancing our knowledge on the impact of animal and habitat management practices on microbial communities in aquatic environments for animal and environmental health.


St Patrick’s GNS, Gardiner’s Hill, Montenotte – for their wonderful work in promoting the importance of the Microbiome throughout the school year. The school welcomed 4 scientists throughout the year to talk about their work and also contributed to the making of the “World Microbiome Day” video. Thank you to all involved.


Gaelscoil Ui Riordan, Ballincollig – For their work in promoting the importance of a healthy microbiome in their school’s organic garden. The students planted various plants to help encourage diversity in the microbes present in the environment.

St. Michael’s Church of Ireland National School, Blackrock – for focusing on maintaining a ‘healthy gut biomes’ from the Food Dudes Programme and the schools Healthy Eating Policy. For creating ‘diversity’ in their school garden. And for keeping the school grounds clean, preventing food waste and litter from encouraging ‘bad bacteria’ to grow.



Industry Microbiome Heroes


The BioCollective and co-founder, Martha Carlin are moving microbiome science forward for the entire community. The company is establishing a microbiome-based ecosystem, focused on the collection of samples from in both healthy and diseased populations to develop products which will improve the health and turn the tide of chronic disease.


Laura Murphy established the first traditional kombucha tea microbrewery in Ireland. SynerChi Kombucha is made using a traditional fermentation method using 100% natural, organic ingredients, with a unique kombucha culture. Laura has worked really hard to mainstream kombucha into supermarkets, with the hope to help replace sodas in consumer baskets.


MaaT Pharma was established in 2014 and is focused on treating serious diseases linked to imbalances of the intestinal microbiome. The company has created a new generation of drugs using Fecal Microbiota Transfer (FMT) to rebuild and restore the gut microbiome of patients with life-threatening diseases. Its MaaT Pharma has launched a phase II clinical trial for its lead product MaaT013, a therapy for treating acute graft-versus-host disease, a major complication of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in which donor immune cells react against host tissues. is a pharmaceutical product with a complete microorganism ecosystem.


MamaBear Foods is a Cork-based food company set up by Loretta Kennedy who produces a gluten-free, vegan friendly ketchup, using natural ingredients including prebiotics and has 50% less sugar than leading brands

Marco Pane develops and formulates probiotic and symbiotic products at Probiotical. He is a regular commentator on the technology, efficacy and consumer benefits of probiotic supplementation and healthy gut microbiota. He is part of the International Probiotic Association (IPA) Scientific Committee, member of the Pharmabiotic Research Institute (PRI) and expert Panel on Probiotic at the US Pharmacopoeia. At home Marco prepares fermented sauerkraut and kombucha and prepare meals to include a range of prebiotic vegetables including artichokes, asparagus, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes.

MetaboGen is creating breakthrough opportunities to develop novel therapeutics and next generation probiotics. Its CEO Sara Malcus, is personally committed to improving maternal health specifically focusing on developing an effective treatment for women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), which affects 400,000 pregnant women around the world every year are affected by (ICP), a potentially serious liver disorder.


Microbiome Insights provides state-of-the-art sample testing and bioinformatics to support industry advance microbiome research in human, animal, agriculture and food sectors.


Morinaga Milk isolated Bifidobacterium longum BB536 from healthy infants in 1969. Since then, they have been pioneering the development of advanced probiotic functional foods and the research on nutritional properties of mothers’ breast milk and gut microbiome for decades. In 2017, Morinaga Milk celebrated its 100 year anniversary and held a special symposium inviting specialists from around the world to provide a forum of latest findings on gut microbiome and human health.

Lee Jones, CEO of Rebiotix, works to harness the power of the microbiome to treat debilitating diseases. Starting with Clostridium difficile (CDI), Lee believes that microbes will help save patient lives and change the face of medicine. Rebiotix’s RBX2660 is a non-antibiotic treatment which is currently in a phase III clinical trial for C. diff and which has the potential to be the world’s first approved human microbiome product.




Researchers/Scientific Organisation Microbiome Heroes


Adele Costabile, University of Roehampston

Adele’s research is focused on the gut microbiota and the role of pre- and probiotics on gut health. She also is very engaged in outreach activities working with museums and young scientists


Amy Proal, Microbe Minded

Amy Proal’s Microbe Minded website and blog explore’s and share insights into the latest in human microbiome research. She is particularly interested in exploring translational discoveries that allow insights about the microbiome to improve therapies for patients.


Carl Woese (deceased, 2012)

We posthumously honour Carl Woese for his many contributions to microbiology including defining the Archaea (a new domain of life) in 1977 by phylogenetic taxonomy of 16S ribosomal RNA. This technique which was pioneered by Woese revolutionized microbiology and microbiome research.

Catherine Lozupone, UC Denver

Catherine’s research is focused on the microbiology of the human gut, factors that influence it and impacts on health. Her lab is also developing bioinformatics techniques to analyse marker gene and genomic sequence data and elucidate the functional consequences of compositional differences, both in terms of the biological/metabolic properties of individual bacteria and host interactions.,-PhD.aspx


Cindy Pensec, University of Nantes

Cindy is undertaking a PhD at the University of Nantes, France. For 2 years she has been working on human and mice microbiota for understand the impact of chemotherapies on the gut microbiota.

Elizabeth Bik, Microbiome Digest

Elisabeth Bik founded the hugely popular MicrobiomeDigest blog which is a great resource that provides a daily round up of the latest microbiome research publications. She has compiled a list of women in microbiome research and also highlights the lack of women speakers at scientific conferences. Elisabeth is also a Science Editor at uBiome.


Indonesian Scientific Society for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISSPP)

ISSPP brings together expert to share and transfer knowledge on probiotics and prebiotics through serial international symposia attended by participants from 12-14 different countries, every 2-3 years.

Jonathan Eisen, UC Davis

Jonathan’s research is focused on the ‘phylogenomics of novelty of microbes’. He promotes open science and his social media platform is resource for keeping up to date and debating the latest in microbiome research. Jonathan also highlights the lack of diversity of speakers at scientific conferences.


Laura Weyrich, University of Adelaide

Laura Weyrich’s research on ancient microbiomes has linked oral microbiomes to shifts in lifestyle. Understanding these changes will inform and allow the development of novel treatment strategies to prevent or cure many microbiome-associated diseases in modern populations, such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and poor oral health.


Lindsay Hall, Quadram Institute

Lindsay has developed an educational workshop on how human gut microbiomes develop and evolve and the impact of antibiotics on bacteria. The Guardians of the Gut workshop is aimed at school children and includes a classroom activity pack, on-line resources and a virtual t-shirt that enables children to see into their gut. Guardians of the Gut will be launched at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in London from July 2-8.


MAST program and Mark Pimentel; Cedars Sinai Medical Center

Mark Pimentel is the Program Director of the Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) Program, who’s research is focused on understanding the association between acute gastroenteritis and disruption of gut flora, impairment of GI tract motility, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome. The program is dedicated to the development of novel drugs and devices to diagnose and treat patients in microbiome-based conditions.


Miguel Torbio-Mateas

Miguel’s research is focused on the relationship between the gut and the brain and the impact it has on our health. Through his clinics he assess this impact to help optimise metabolic, hormonal and gastrointestinal health for his clients.


Molecular Genetics Laboratory, CHME, Faridabad, India

From targeted metagenomics to functional metagenomics of various diseases, the lab focuses on the association of the micro-organisms and humans as a host. The research programs include:

Composition and functional dynamics of gut flora of children with various nutritional indices

Role of gut microbiota in the development of Type 2 diabetes

Role of vaginal microbiota in preterm birth

Role of gut microbiota in dissemination of virulence and antibiotic resistance traits in human pathogen

Regulation of (p)ppGpp synthesis in cholera pathogens

Pat Schloss, University of Michigan

Pat’s research group, is dedicated to integrating across disciplines to advance our knowledge of the role of the microbiome in human health with a particular focus on Clostridium difficile infections and the progression of colorectal cancer. His work has led to the development of tools and algorithms for microbiome analysis.


Rob Knight, UCSD

Rob Knight has pioneered the field of microbiome research, having more than 120,000 citations in the literature according to Google Scholar and winning the Massry Prize late last year. He is the co-founder of the American Gut Project, the largest crowd-sourced microbiome project and the largest microbiome study to be published with more than 15,000 participants to date. Rob is also the co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project.


Rodney Dietert, Cornell University

Rodney Dietert is focused on the microbiome and the immune system and has researched the effects of environment factors (e.g, chemicals, drugs, stress, and infectious agents) on the developing immune system and the role of microbiome in human health. He is the author of the book entitled The Human Superorganism.


British Nutritional Foundation, Sara Stanner, Science Director & Stacey Lockyer, Nutrition Scientist

Sara and Stacey from the British Nutritional Foundation communicate and promote the importance of dietary fibre for the gut microbiome and our health. They highlight the importance of diet and gut microbiota and implications for public health through talks, webinars, publications and events.


The YSS lab; Pune, India

The YSS lab is a major contributor towards understanding microbial diversity in India. The lab is responsible for preserving the microbial heritage of India with more than 200,000 isolates in the ‘Microbial Culture Collection’, now known as ‘National Centre for Microbial Resource’. In addition, the lab’s Microbial Science Outreach Initiative, engages students and the public to create and awareness and appreciation for the fascinating world of microbes present around us.