Alexandra Zhernakova

Alexandra Zhernakova is Professor of Genome and Exposome in Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen Her group is focused on understanding the complex interaction of host genetics, environmental factors and intestinal bacteria in relation to aging, autoimmune diseases, gut and metabolic health. Her group has performed several large microbiome studies in Dutch population cohorts and identified more than 100 factors that play a role in shaping the human gut microbiome. She also leads the MiBioGen consortium – an international consortium aiming at understanding the role of genetics in the microbiome composition. She is the scientific head of the Lifelines-NEXT cohort: a prospective cohort of 1500 mothers and babies, aimed at understanding the role of prenatal and early life factors, gut microbes and host factors on babies’ health. Her current research is focused on the development of gut microbiome and virome during the first year of life, analysis of breast milk microbes, and integrated analysis of various environmental and host factors in the development of the gut ecosystem and in human health. Her research is funded by several personal and collaborative grants from the European Research Council (ERC) and Dutch Scientific Organization (NWO).