The microbial communities that inhabit the human body, also referred to as ”the human microbiome,“ contribute to vital body functions via complex metabolic and immunomodulatory activities that we just begin to appreciate. However, they also harbor ”opportunistic“ bacterial pathogens, i.e. bacteria with the potential to cause life-threatening infections, which are often resistant to antibiotic treatment. The identification of alternative prophylactic and therapeutic approaches represents one of the major research challenges of the 21st century. It has become clear that beneficial bacteria within the microbiome can limit the uncontrolled expansion of opportunistic pathogens in many, yet enigmatic, ways thus protecting against bacterial infections. Scientists within the Cluster of Excellence ”Controlling Microbes to Fight Infections“ (CMFI) aim to elucidate the mechanisms governing the interactions between beneficial and harmful bacteria with the long term goal to harness them for targeted therapeutic interventions. Given the inherent complexity of the system, the cluster team is undertaking a multi-pronged and stepwise approach, integrating research at molecular, cellular and community level, using different in vitro and in vivo model systems as well as cutting edge computational, bioengineering, omics and imaging technologies.
The overarching research objectives are: