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SSF21 - Mind Your Microbes: The Microbiota-Gut Brain Axis

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Online Talk with Dr Niall Hyland.

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“I’m gutted”; “trust your gut”; “I’ve got butterflies in my stomach”; “it’s just a gut-feeling”. The English language is filled with phrases that connect our gut with emotions. Perhaps we’ve known instinctively what researchers are exploring scientifically: that there is a connection between our gut and our brain. Researchers have now gained further insight into the gut-brain-axis and are also beginning to understand how stress affects our gut microbiome. Studies have shown that stressed or depressed individuals have a very different microbial makeup when compared to healthy subjects.

What is not understood, however, is what changes first. Is someone prone to be depressed and then that impacts the gut? Or do we see changes in the gut first that then cause changes in the central nervous system? Or is it a feedback loop, where one feeds into another? This is what researchers are trying to understand to determine whether altering the gut microbiome could achieve a positive impact on the mind.

Dr Niall Hyland has over 20 years’ experience in gastrointestinal physiology and enteric neuroscience and has built up a repertoire of expertise in enteric physiology and pharmacology, the brain-gut axis, and microbiota-host interactions. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physiology at University College Cork and an Investigator at the Science Foundation Ireland supported research centre, APC Microbiome Ireland. Niall received a BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Ulster and PhD in Pharmacology from King’s College London and completed training at Louisiana State University Medical Center in the USA and at the University

of Calgary in Canada.

He has published over 45 peer reviewed articles, has a H-index of 26 and co-edited the book, ‘The Gut-Brain Axis. Dietary, Probiotic, and Prebiotic Interventions on the Microbiota’. He has represented Ireland on the Steering Committee of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and recently completed his term as Vice President-Meetings at the British Pharmacological Society.

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