Clinical Microbiome

Dr. Romana Gerner


Our research focuses on the functional and molecular interactions between the mucosal immune system and the intestinal microbiome in health and disease.

Mammals are born sterile, and consecutive microbial colonization is fundamental for the imprinting and maturation of the immune system. This crosstalk early in life establishes a resilient and homeostatic host-microbe relationship, and perturbations during this period might result in increased susceptibility to diseases later in life. We are interested in how certain commensal members of the microbiota shape the immune system in the newborn and how this affects the subsequent development of autoimmunity and inflammatory diseases. Moreover, we study different aspects of host-pathogen interactions with a particular focus on opportunistic pathogens such as E. coli. The goal is to better understand the pathogenicity of E. coli in patients with intestinal inflammation and during systemic infections in immunocompromised patients. Consequently, we aim to increase our understanding of the clinical aspects of the microbiota and, ultimately, to inform the choice of treatment.

Gerner RR, Hossain S, Sargun A, Siada K, Norton GJ, Zheng T, Neumann W, Nuccio SP, Nolan EM, Raffatellu M. Siderophore Immunization Restricted Colonization of Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli and Ameliorated Experimental Colitis. mBio. 2022 Oct 26;13(5):e0218422.

Gerner RR, Nuccio SP, Raffatellu M. Iron at the host-microbe interface. Mol Aspects Med. 2020 Oct;75:100895.

Gerner RR, Macheiner S, Reider S, Siegmund K, Grabherr F, Mayr L, Texler B, Moser P, Effenberger M, Schwaighofer H, Moschen AR, Kircher B, Oberacher H, Zeiser R, Tilg H, Nachbaur D. Targeting NAD immunometabolism limits severe graft-versus-host disease and has potent antileukemic activity. Leukemia. 2020 Jul;34(7):1885-1897.

Gerner RR, Klepsch V, Macheiner S, Arnhard K, Adolph TE, Grander C, Wieser V, Pfister A, Moser P, Hermann-Kleiter N, Baier G, Oberacher H, Tilg H, Moschen AR. NAD metabolism fuels human and mouse intestinal inflammation. Gut. 2018 Oct;67(10):1813-1823.

Moschen AR*, Gerner RR*, Wang J, Klepsch V, Adolph TE, Reider SJ, Hackl H, Pfister A, Schilling J, Moser PL, Kempster SL, Swidsinski A, Orth Höller D, Weiss G, Baines JF, Kaser A, Tilg H. Lipocalin 2 Protects from Inflammation and Tumorigenesis Associated with Gut Microbiota Alterations. Cell Host Microbe. 2016 Apr 13;19(4):455-69. *These authors contributed equally.