On 23 March 2022, Quinten Ducarmon was the first PhD candidate within the PhD research programme of the Netherlands Centre for One Health to graduate, and he did so with distinction (cum laude). In his research he aims to identify intestinal bacteria that may play a role in colonization resistance against potential pathogens and antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. Ducarmon conducted his research at the Department of Medical Microbiology at Leiden University Medical Center.
The microbiome (the collection of all microorganisms) in the gut plays a crucial role in human health. Examples include the production of essential vitamins, breaking down dietary fibers and influencing the immune system, as well as providing resistance to potential pathogens or exogenous microorganisms, so-called microbiome-mediated colonization resistance. While antibiotic use has saved millions of lives by successfully fighting bacterial infections, it has become clear that a downside of this treatment is potentially serious damage to the gut microbiome. In addition, because of the frequent use of antibiotics in recent decades, more and more attention is being paid to the danger of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO).
Developing therapies based on microbiome
In his dissertation (‘Microbiome-mediated colonization resistance: Defense against enteropathogens and multi-drug resistant organisms’) Ducarmon focused on identifying intestinal bacteria that may aid in providing colonization resistance against enteropathogens and MDROs. He summarized the current knowledge on microbiome-mediated colonization resistance and development of microbiome-based therapeutics, explored and developed the methodology for both laboratory-based and computer-based techniques to optimally perform microbiome analyses and conducted several clinical studies to identify potentially protective gut bacteria.
‘I excitedly look forward to the future of microbiome research and hopefully towards the implementation of the first rationally designed microbiome-based therapeutics into the clinic in the coming years.’