Dr. Ruairi Robertson obtained a B.Sc in Human Nutrition from University College Dublin, Ireland. He subsequently conducted a Ph.D in University College Cork within APC Microbiome Ireland studying the interaction between maternal and early-life dietary lipids, the developing microbiome and meta-bolic health outcomes. During this time, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct part of his PhD research in Harvard University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2017 he was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust to conduct research within the Centre for Genomics and Child Health in the Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London and the University of British Columbia, Canada. His research investigates the influence of commensal microbiomes, particularly the gut microbiome, on child growth and un-dernutrition. This research explores the mechanistic pathways linking the gut microbiome with infec-tion, nutrition, metabolism and growth. His research is predominantly based in large mother-infant studies in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Centre: Genomics and Child Health
My research examines the influence of the intestinal microbiome in early child growth, particularly in the context of malnutrition. The acquisition of complex microbial communities in the early stages of life, and their interaction with the host, plays an important role in many growth and developmental pathways. I am examining how disruption of this optimal microbial succession, via suboptimal diet, breast-feeding practices, unhygienic environment, infection, antibiotic use etc may impair the path-ways involved in normal growth, thereby leading to malnutrition. For this work I am carrying out combined ‘omics techniques including whole metagenome shotgun sequencing and metabolic pheno-typing via 1H NMR and UPLC-MS. I am currently involved in three large cohort studies in Zimbabwe and Zambia:
- The SHINE study (Sanitation, Hygiene, Infant Nutrition Efficacy Project) – As part of the SHINE study, a birth cohort of >4000 mother infant pairs followed-up from pregnancy to 18 months, I am examining the association between the infant gut microbiome and growth, oral vaccine responses and breast-feeding status.
- HOPE-SAM (Health Outcomes, Pathogenesis and Epidemiology of Severe Acute Malnutrition) – The HOPE-SAM study is a cohort of 745 children hospitalized with complicated severe acute malnu-trition. As these individuals have high mortality rates and faltered growth post-discharge, my re-search is examining whether signatures of the gut microbiome are associated with SAM, mortality, growth recovery and metabolic disturbances associated with severe malnutrition
- COMBI (Cotrimoxazole for Mothers to Improve Birthweight in Infants) is a randomized clinical trial of 1000 mothers in rural Zimbabwe examining the influence of a daily antibiotic on infant birthweight. My research within this study is examining the influence of maternal gut, vaginal and oral microbi-omes on adverse birth outcomes (preterm birth, low birthweight, small for gestational age) and the influence of antibiotic treatment on these interactions in both mothers and infants.