A loaded microbe - the science

This is the science that links the eight panels used to make rubbings, reflecting links between microbes and health.

The Bacterium and The Digestive Tract
Scientists at the Quadram Institute are working to understand how the trillions of microbes (tiny life forms) that live in our gut help us maintain a healthy state and the changes that occur that lead to disease.

The Hand
The hand symbolises bones and joints, which can be affected by arthritis occuring at any age. Recent research shows that the use of antibiotics can increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. (Quadram Institute and Keele University)

The Heart
The Quadram Institute is studying why diets rich in colourful fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are focusing on natural compounds found in berries, red cabbage, purple potatoes and broccoli.

The Brain
The Quadram's current 'Motion' study is investigating gut microbes and the role they may play in healthy ageing and in particular, declining mental health and the risk of developing dementia. People over 60 can get involved in this study.

The Smiley Face
The microbes in your gut can send messages to and receive messages from your brain, making you feel happy or stressed and crave unhealthy food! Eat your veg to send the right messages to your brain and to help you feel happy.

The Baby
The Pregnancy and Early Life (PEARL) Study is looking at babies and pregnant mums to understand the importance of the ‘good’ microbes that are passed on from mother to child, during birth and in the first stages of life. The aim is to understand how these affect the risk of developing conditions including defects of the immune system, allergies and chronic intestinal diseases.

The Lungs and Anti-Microbiol Resistance
Scientists at the Quadram Institute and the University of East Anglia have developed a rapid way of diagnosing lung infections in hours rather than days by analysing their genes. This allows fast effective treatment and slows the spread of antibiotic resistance. Also known as anti-microbial resistance (AMR), this means that dangerous bacteria evolve so that they are not treatable with current antibiotics; this is one of the greatest threats to our health.