UMCG opens new facility for microbiome research

Today the UMCG celebrated the opening of the Groningen Microbiome Hub: a new facility with state-of-the-art technology that brings together expertise in microbiome research. This hub will create unique opportunities in research and enable new collaborations, both with UMCG researchers and with external researchers and companies.
From left to right: Rinse Weersma, Yingyuan Fu, Sasha Zhernakova, and Hermie Harmsen
Researchers Rinse Weersma, Jingyuan Fu, Sasha Zhernakova & Hermie Harmsen

Three new labs to drive efficient collaboration

Studying a complex ecosystem like the gut microbiome requires truly interdisciplinary research in which biologists, microbiologists, molecular geneticists, nutritionists, data-scientists and clinicians must work together closely. Together, they investigate the composition of the microbiome, its stability and function, the factors that affect it, and its interactions with environment, health and disease.

In this new facility, three brand-new laboratories with the latest technology have been built side by side. There is also an office area where wet lab researchers and bioinformaticians can interact, providing a space that enables smart, efficient collaboration, with the ultimate goal of improving health.


Microbiome research in the UMCG

Understanding how the microbiome contributes to health and disease leads to new possibilities to treat patients and prevent disease from developing. At the UMCG, researchers have already been working on this for years. Through this new facility, they can now build on that knowledge and take microbiome research to the next level.

The Groningen Microbiome Hub has been established by researchers from the microbiome research group, led by Prof. Jingyuan Fu, Prof. Sasha Zhernakova, Prof. Rinse Weersma, Prof. Klaas Nico Faber, Dr. Withoff and Dr. Hermie Harmsen. ‘With these three labs together in one place, we can combinedly grow cells and bacteria under micro-aerophilic conditions, so that we can even test the strict anaerobic bacteria in their interaction with cells. Wewill start by doing functional analysis of all the associations we find now between microbiome and the host’s health or disease’, says Harmsen.

Collaborating with researchers and companies

Altogether, the hub was created to enable collaboration on a high scientific level to bring microbiome research further. Harmsen: ‘We will start working there with people from our own research groups, but after this adaptation period we want to open the hub for all scientists and companies inside and outside the UMCG.’


To celebrate the opening, the UMCG hosted a symposium at which experts in the field of microbiome research gave lectures. During the symposium, the hub was officially opened by Dean Wiro Niessen.

Microbiome research

Research into the microbiome has been conducted at the UMCG for many years. For example, in 2022, the Groningen team of microbiome researchers unraveled the composition of a healthy gut microbiome. The team also discovered that genes influence the composition of your gut microbiome and that an abnormal gut microbiome is associated with increased mortality risk after transplantation. UMCG microbiome research has one clear goal: to provide leads to improve public health. The Groningen Microbiome Hub will play an important role in achieving this goal.