Microbiome Policy Project

The Microbiology Society has identified a need for policy audiences and other stakeholders to have access to appropriate scientific information and expert opinion about research on microbiomes – the microbial communities associated with humans, animals, plants and other environments.

Over 2016/17 we are developing an accessible, evidence-based policy report exploring human, animal and environmental microbiome research and its relevance to public policy. The Society is also facilitating opportunities for networking and knowledge exchange between different research fields and stakeholder groups to promote the development of microbiome research, as well as the discipline of microbiology.

Why microbiome research?

There are several reasons why the Society sees a need to engage policy audiences and other stakeholders about microbiome research, including: the rapid development of microbiome research; potential applications and implications of this research for addressing societal challenges and needs (e.g. health, agriculture and food, sustainability, bioeconomy); and growing international interest from policy audiences, funders, industry and in the media. Gaps and issues concerning the science, translation and regulation, and social considerations also need to be addressed to deliver on potential opportunities presented by microbiome research.

Microbiome Expert Working Group

The project is being guided and informed by an Expert Working Group, chaired by Society member Professor Julian Marchesi (Professor of Human Microbiome Research at Cardiff University and Reader at the Centre for Digestive and Gut Health, Imperial College London). The Expert Working Group held their first meeting in July 2016 to define the scope of the project, and have begun to consider the themes and issues to be included in the report.

Microbiome Research Stakeholder Workshops


Over Autumn 2016 the Society held five interdisciplinary stakeholder workshops in Cardiff, Manchester, London, Edinburgh and Dublin. The workshops collectively connected around 160 stakeholders, including representatives from academia, industry, government departments and agencies, and research funders. Participants discussed the opportunities from exploring and exploiting microbiomes across the themes of health, agriculture and food, and environment and sustainability. They also identified scientific, policy and social gaps and issues that need to be addressed in order to deliver on these opportunities. The workshops aimed to facilitate networking and knowledge exchange between different fields and stakeholder groups, and the outputs are helping to inform report being developed by the Expert Working Group.

Contact us

We welcome hearing from researchers and other stakeholders about microbiome research developments, issues and interest. Please contact our Policy Officer (policy@microbiologysociety.org) with information, or if you would like to know more about the project and its outputs. 

Microbiome Expert Working Group membership

Professor Julian Marchesi (Chair) Cardiff University and Imperial College London
Professor Mark Bailey Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Dr Jessica Boname Medical Research Council
Professor Nigel Brown University of Edinburgh
Dr Lena Ciric University College London
Dr Paul Cook Food Standards Agency
Professor Rob Finn EMBL-EBI
Professor Paul Freemont Imperial College London
Professor Glenn Gibson University of Reading
Dr Pat Goodwin Microbiology Society Policy Committee Chair
Professor Colin Hill APC Microbiome Institute, University College Cork
Professor Penny Hirsch Rothamsted Research
Dr Nicola Holden James Hutton Institute
Dr Sharon Huws Aberystwyth University
Professor Roberto La Ragione University of Surrey
Professor Trevor Lawley Wellcome Sanger Institute
Professor Miriam Moffatt Imperial College London
Professor Arjan Narbad Institute of Food Research
Professor Vincent O'Flaherty NUI Galway
Dr Cath O'Neill University of Manchester
Professor James Prosser University of Aberdeen
Dr Declan Schroeder The Marine Biological Association
Dr Karen Scott Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen
Dr Linda Thomas Freelance consultant
Professor Chris van der Gast Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Professor William Wade Queen Mary University of London
Professor Jeremy Webb University of Southampton
Professor Elizabeth Wellington University of Warwick

Image: Microbiome Research Stakeholder Workshop that took place in London. Microbiology Society.