Division of Microbiome and Cancer

Prof. Dr. Eran Elinav

Microphotograph of mouse colon with co-staining of bacteria by FISH (green, arrow heads; 16S universal probe) and mucus layer (red, arrows; lectin [visualizes also goblet cells]) with nucleus counterstaining (blue; DAPI).
© dkfz.de

The impact of the intestinal microbiota on health and disease has become increasingly clear in the last decade, and microbial imbalances are considered relevant for a variety of diseases.
Inflammation, IBD and infection. The Microbiome Research Division is interested in the cross-talk of the microbiota and innate and adaptive immune responses. We are studying microbial triggers of altered immune responses, e.g., pathobiont colonization, and deficient host defense or environmental sensing via the inflammasome. We also investigate the role of host glucose metabolism and effects on mucosal homeostasis, immune responses and infection.
Metabolisms and nutrition. Our division pursues personalized medicine to study the effect of diet and microbiota on body weight, metabolic and digestive functions. For instance, we found that individual postprandial glycemic responses are predictable with a machine-learning algorithm, enabling personalized diets that maintained normoglycemia.
Cancer. The microbiota has recently emerged as an important factor in carcinogenesis and anti-tumor immunity. Our division studies the cross-talk between cancer cells, immune cells, and the microbiota. We investigate how diet or antibiotic-induced dysbiosis affects carcinogenesis in mouse models, and study the role of selected commensal bacteria. We also study the longitudinal cross-talk of anti-cancer therapies - chemo- and immunotherapy - with the microbiota in patients and in laboratory mice.

In the Microbiome Research Division, we are currently developing new wet-lab techniques and bioinformatic tools to sequence and analyze the microbiota from the gastrointestinal tract, and also low-biomass samples such as the skin, the genitourinary tract, the pancreas and the thymus. Using translational research approaches we aim to model microbiota perturbations of human disorders including cancer, IBD and infections in gnotobiotic mouse models to understand the mechanisms of microbiota-host cross-talk in these disorders. In order to transfer this knowledge back into the clinic for the wealth and benefit of patients, we are performing precision medicine-based, clinical studies with patient microbiota interventions using specific dietary modifications (Zeevi et al., Cell 2015) or fecal microbiota transfer (Suez et al., Cell 2018).


Prof. Dr. Eran Elinav
Microbiome and Cancer (F220)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg

Administrative Assistant:
Ellen Burkard
e.burkard (at) dkfz.de

Selected Publications

  • Suez J, Zmora N, Zilberman-Schapira G, Mor U, Dori-Bachash M, Bashiardes S, Zur M, Regev-Lehavi D, Ben-Zeev Brik R, Federici S, Horn M, Cohen Y, Moor AE, Zeevi D, Korem T, Kotler E, Harmelin A, Itzkovitz S, Maharshak N, Shibolet O, Pevsner-Fischer M, Shapiro H, Sharon I, Halpern Z, Segal E, Elinav E. (2018) Post-Antibiotic Gut Mucosal Microbiome Reconstitution Is Impaired by Probiotics and Improved by Autologous FMT. Cell, 174,1406-1423.
  • Thaiss CA, Levy M, Grosheva I, Zheng D, Soffer E, Blacher E, Braverman S, Tengeler AC, Barak O, Elazar M, Ben-Zeev R, Lehavi-Regev D, Katz MN, Pevsner-Fischer M, Gertler A, Halpern Z, Harmelin A, Aamar S, Serradas P, Grosfeld A, Shapiro H, Geiger B, Elinav E (2018). Hyperglycemia drives intestinal barrier dysfunction and risk for enteric infection. Science, 359, 1376-1383.
  • Zeevi D, Korem T, Zmora N, Israeli D, Rothschild D, Weinberger A, Ben-Yacov O, Lador D, Avnit-Sagi T, Lotan-Pompan M, Suez J, Mahdi JA, Matot E, Malka G, Kosower N, Rein M, Zilberman-Schapira G, Dohnalová L, Pevsner-Fischer M, Bikovsky R, Halpern Z, Elinav E, Segal E (2015). Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell, 163, 1079-1094.
  • Levy M, Thaiss CA, Zeevi D, Dohnalová L, Zilberman-Schapira G, Mahdi JA, David E, Savidor A, Korem T, Herzig Y, Pevsner-Fischer M, Shapiro H, Christ A, Harmelin A, Halpern Z, Latz E, Flavell RA, Amit I, Segal E, Elinav E (2015). Microbiota-Modulated Metabolites Shape the Intestinal Microenvironment by Regulating NLRP6 Inflammasome Signaling. Cell,163,1428-43.
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