Paul O’Toole Bio

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Paul O’Toole – Principal Investigator


     Contact details:       E-mail: pwotoole@ucc.ie;

                                    Tel: +353 21 4903997
                                     Web site: http://eldermet.ucc.ie

 

For a full publication list please see:   http://www.researcherid.com/rid/G-1593-2012

Career profile:

Following industry and academic positions in Sweden, Canada, New Zealand and the US, Paul O’Toole is now Professor of Microbial Genomics at University College Cork, Ireland. His main research theme is the genomics of gastrointestinal bacteria in humans with emphasis on commensal species and host interaction. In recent years he has co-ordinated and participated in several major projects that examine the composition and function of the gut microbiota, its interaction with habitual diet, and its relationship to health, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and ageing. The ultimate aim of these investigations is to develop novel therapeutics, foods and food ingredients to programme the intestinal microbiota towards promoting health. He co-ordinated ELDERMET (eldermet.ucc.ie), a nationally funded project that established diet-microbiota health interactions in 500 elderly persons, and he leads a project called ELDERFOOD that is investigating dairy-derived foods for healthy aging.  He is a Principal Investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (apc.ucc.ie), in which he leads projects on microbiota in aging, and lactobacillus genomics. He leads the metagenomics workpackage in NuAge, an EU FP7 project on microbiota in the elderly that is anchored by University of Bologna. He is a partner in MyNewGut, another European Union project on gut microbiota, diet and behaviour in infants anchored by CSIC Valencia. As well as national and European agencies, his lab in Cork is also supported by the US NIH (oral microbiome and childhood caries; anchored by NYU). He has published over 150 articles and has an H-index of 38 (Web of Science). He has delivered >200 conference presentations.

Scientific detail:

I employ comparative and functional genomics to study host-microbe interaction, through programmes on lactobacilli and the innate immune system (TLRs; ligands); lactobacillus as oral and opportunistic pathogens (NYU and the WT Sanger Centre); motility and flagellum assembly in lactobacilli, enterococci, and H. pylori. I also collaborate with the Rowett Centre/Univ. Aberdeen in establishing genetic systems for anaerobic gut commensals.

I extended from reductionist models of host-microbe interaction to intestinal metagenomic analyses, which generate hypotheses that leverage smarter reductionist studies. In 2007, I started the ELDERMET project (eldermet.ucc.ie) investigating diet-microbiota health interactions in 500 subjects >65 years. Simultaneously, we used our microbiota platform to determine the microbiota changes in a Swedish cohort of Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients. We provocatively suggested [22180058] stratification of IBS subjects into normal microbiota but higher anxiety and depression, or altered microbiota, thus potentially explaining the low therapy response rate and high placebo response rate in IBS. We are extending this to several hundred IBS patients in Cork, and we are about to conduct an open label antibiotic therapy trial stratified by microbiota composition.

ELDERMET successfully provided insights into how diet modulates microbiota in seniors, and how a low diversity microbiota caused by a narrow diet correlates with frailty and lower scores for cognition, higher inflammation, and more severe sarcopaenia     [ Pubmed ID 22797518]. I lead the metagenomics workpackage of a Univ. Bologna-led EU projects (http://www.nu-age.eu/) in which 1250 subjects receive supplementation with elements of a Mediterranean diet for one year. Analysis of metagenome, inflammasome and metabolome will allow us to probe causation, mechanisms and pathways if the diet changes the microbiota and if this impacts on health. Through local, national and international colleagues, I am also involved in projects studying the oral microbiota, and potential involvement of the gut microbiota in Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease. The backbone of all of these projects in an 8-member pure bioinformatics lab, 5 of these at post-doctoral level, two Research Nurses, and a group of 6-10 wt lab scientists. We develop, apply and refine new solutions for bioinformatic challenges in comparative genomics, genome evolution, and bacterial community structure.

Research interests:

I am a Professor of Microbial Genomics in the School of Microbiology UCC, and a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute.  My role in the APC is to co-lead the Microbiota in Extremes of Life programme, particularly studies on the elderly. I also employ reductionist models for studying diet-microbiota health interactions, through programmes on lactobacilli and the innate immune system (TLRs; ligands); lactobacillus as oral and opportunistic pathogens (NYU and the WT Sanger Centre); motility and flagellum assembly in lactobacilli, enterococci, and H. pylori. I also collaborate with the Rowett Centre/Univ. Aberdeen in establishing genetic systems for anaerobic gut commensals.

I extended from reductionist models of host-microbe interaction to intestinal metagenomic analyses, which generate hypotheses that leverage smarter reductionist studies. From 2007-2013, I co-ordinated the ELDERMET project (eldermet.ucc.ie) investigating diet-microbiota health interactions in 500 subjects >65 years. ELDERMET successfully provided insights into how diet modulates microbiota in seniors, and how a low diversity microbiota caused by a narrow diet correlates with frailty and lower scores for cognition, higher inflammation, and more severe sarcopaenia     [22797518]. I lead the metagenomics workpackage of a Univ. Bologna-led EU projects (http://www.nu-age.eu/) in which 1250 subjects receive supplementation with elements of a Mediterranean diet for one year. Analysis of metagenome, inflammasome and metabolome will allow us to probe causation, mechanisms and pathways if the diet changes the microbiota and if this impacts on health. With Prof. Catherine Stanton in Teagasc Moorepark, I am examining the gut microbiota in breast-fed infants as a function of the birth mode (INFANTMET project).  I also co-ordinate SFI and DAFM projects on diet-microbiota-health interactions including use of dairy ingredients to target sarcopaenia in older consumers (ELDERFOOD); use of lipid ingredients to modulate inflammation and metabolic disease (IMMUNOMET), and several APC projects on targeted microbiota modulation by dietary ingredients to promote health.

Professional activities:

Please see http://research.ucc.ie/profiles/D010/pwotoole

 

Publications:

For a full publication list please see:

http://www.researcherid.com/rid/G-1593-2012

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