Robert Koch Award 2013
The microbiologist Jeffrey Gordon was honored for his pioneering work on the molecular analysis of microbial communities that live in the human gut. His work has contributed to our knowledge that microbes are not just ‘enemies’ to be dealt with because they can cause disease, but rather beneficial ‘friends’, and that we are a splendid amalgamation of microbial and human cells and genes. As such, microbes form an interactive alliance with the body, shaping many aspects of our physiology, metabolism and immunology. Professor Gordon’s work on the genomic and metabolic foundations of our alliances with gut microbes has contributed significant new understanding about the basis for health and well-being, including our nutritional status, and has opened the door to new therapeutic approaches for 21st century medicine.