Dr Ruairi Robertson, BSc, PhD
Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Centre: Centre for Genomics and Child Health
Dr. Ruairi Robertson obtained a B.Sc in Human Nutrition from University College Dublin, Ireland, during which time he spent a year as a research student in the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Ageing in Tufts University Medical School in Boston. 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 metabolic 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 4-year 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. He is conducting part of this research Fellowship in University of British Columbia as a visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2018/2019).
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, antibiotic use etc may impair the pathways 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 phenotyping via 1H NMR and UPLC-MS. I am currently involved in two 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 800 children hospitalized with complicated severe acute malnutrition. As these individuals have high mortality rates and faltered growth post-discharge, my research is examining whether signatures of the gut microbiome are associated with SAM, mortality, growth recovery and metabolic disturbances associated with severe malnutrition.