Since the beginning of my research career, I have focused on investigating how bacteria interact with their mammalian hosts. I have now gained international recognition, particularly for my discovery that the gut microbiota can be considered an environmental factor that modulates adiposity and host metabolism. I am currently Professor and Director of the Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular Research, Co-director for the SSF-sponsored Center for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, Professor at Copenhagen University, and guest Professor at Oslo University.
During my PhD training, I investigated how bacteria are recognized by different mucosal linings of the body. I addressed the hypothesis that tissue-specific microbial recognition pathways exist and that gut and urinary tract perceive E. coli differently. My thesis work promoted my interest in the normal gut microbiota and I moved to Jeffrey Gordon’s laboratory at Washington University in St Louis to investigate how the normal gut microbiota affects the physiology and metabolism of the host. We found that obesity is associated with an altered gut microbiota and that germ-free mice have reduced fat mass and are resistant to diet-induced obesity. These studies were the first to suggest that the gut microbiota is an environmental factor that contributes to obesity and other related diseases and have spurred researchers around the world to study the gut microbiota.