Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology
Division of Infection & Immunity, Faculty of Medical Sciences
Human Evolution Interest
Microorganisms and Darwinian medicine.
The immune system is, like the brain, a learning system. It evolved to anticipate data input from the symbiotic microorganisms (microbiota) that are particularly abundant in the gut, and from organisms in the natural environment. Modern lifestyles decrease and distort these inputs, and this contributes to failing regulation of the immune system. Failing immunoregulation contributes to increases in chronic inflammatory disorders (allergies, autoimmune disease and inflammatory bowel disease) where the immune system is targeting things it should not attack. Failing immunoregulation also contributes to increased and persistent levels of background inflammation that are associated with psychiatric disorders, reduced stress resilience, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. I am interested in how modern lifestyles can be modified so as to restore the inputs that the immune system evolved to require.