Microbiomes in the gut
Is stress linked to your stomach? How do the bacteria in your gut affect your mood? Microbiome physiologists look at these complex relationships to explain our biological systems.
Our gastrointestinal tract is home to a wide variety of microscopic organisms called microbes that make up the microbial world in the gut, called the microbiome. The channel of communication between the microbiome and the brain is known as the microbiota and it is essential for body processes such as normal gut function and keeping the immune system in check. Physiologists studying the microbiome have established that the gut microbiota interacts with other communication pathways and is therefore linked to our response to stress. This has sparked interest in identifying disturbed microbiome environments in the big disorders affecting us today…such as anxiety, depression and obesity. Discovery of the right modifications needed to improve these disorders could be life-changing for many people. Imagine being a part of that!
How do I get involved in microbiome research?
An undergraduate degree in any life science subject (including physiology, biomedicine, medicine, sports science, neuroscience, genetics etc.) will open the door to a career in physiology research.
Following this, you will have to apply for a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) if you wish to pursue a research career in a university. This involves a substantial research project, typically 3-4 years in length, and training in scientific as well as transferable skills. These are usually fully funded by Research Councils, charities or increasingly industry.
Graduates often complete a Master’s degree before undertaking a PhD. Master’s degrees like a MSc (Master of Science), MRes (Master of Research) and, increasingly, integrated Master’s degrees (e.g. M.Biol or Master of Biology) help to develop a greater understanding of a particular scientific area. This will give graduates a better grounding and make them more competitive for PhD positions.