To date, the majority of research on the human microbiome has focused on high-income countries, particularly European and North American populations. A retreat, co-organised by Sanger researchers and partners in Kenya, Pakistan and the US, aimed to address this power imbalance. Supported by Wellcome Connecting Science, as part of their Learning and Training programme, and the Gates Foundation, it brought together more than 40 leaders in gut microbiome research, funding and policy from over 20 different countries in April 2023. They discussed how to accelerate microbiome research to improve the health of children in Asian, Latin American and African countries.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that the microbiome plays a role in health and disease. It is associated with the development of respiratory and gut illnesses such as cholera or pneumonia, and in vaccine response through interactions with the immune system. It has also been recognised as a target for therapeutic interventions to improve malnutrition and other diseases (obesity or inflammatory bowel disease, for example).