Dialogue between intestinal microbiota and the brain

Published on August 25, 2017

Explaining complexity has always fascinated Amandine Everard. Recently appointed FNRS research associate, this young woman is celebrating her tenth year of scientific research. After having been a student researcher during her pharmaceutical studies at UCL, she wanted to understand in greater detail how nutrition affects our health. By contacting UCL’s Metabolism and Nutrition Laboratory directed by Nathalie Delzenne and Patrice Cani, she found herself in the right place at the right time. While completing her PhD thesis on obesity and related complications, she helped demonstrate the beneficial role of the Akkermansia muciniphila bacterium in fighting metabolic disorders. She also revealed how the microbiota and cells of our intestines talk to each other in order to control minor inflammation and obesity-related metabolic diseases. After an enriching and intense PhD experience, Dr Everard did a postdoctorate at the Université de Paris Diderot-Paris 7, where she studied how and why deregulation of the brain’s reward system can lead to obesity. More precisely, she investigated how the intestine can communicate with this system and influence our eating behaviour.

As a research associate, Dr Everard will continue her investigations into the links between the reward system, intestinal microbiota and obesity. Her expertise in the reward system and eating behaviour is unique at UCL and the hypothesis according to which microbiota play a role is completely original – fertile ground for surprising new discoveries.

Her passion for complex systems that talk to each other in order to operate something as complex as a human being is today fuelled mainly by her daughter. Her little source of joy is just over a year old and occupies most of her free time. And when the researcher and mother needs to clear her mind and escape, she finds freedom in running, which requires perseverance and endurance. These same qualities have already helped and will surely continue to help her make important discoveries in the physiopathology of obesity and metabolic disorders, discoveries that might one day be used for treatments that improve patients’ quality of life.