Why is the microbiome of Irish Travellers important for everyone?

Project specs




Fergus Shanahan



Funding agency

1) ICARE – an Irish research charity based in Cork supporting chronic disease research 2) Science Foundation Ireland




Using 21st century microbiome science, research shows Irish Traveller microbiomes are not only different to that of the non-Traveller settled Irish but is more closely connected to other ancestral non-industrialised societies.

It is believed that this retention of an ancient microbiome is linked with large family size, living in close quarters and with animals. The findings show how a nomadic microbiome can reduce risk and protect against chronic diseases, which will have health implications for everyone.

Researcher Profile

Fergus Shanahan MD, DSc is a clinician scientist who loves people, words and microbes. He is author of over 600 scientific articles and numerous books and was the founding director of APC Microbiome Ireland at University College Cork, a research centre funded by industry and by Science Foundation Ireland. His work on the microbiome of Travellers was performed in collaboration with his colleagues Prof. Michael Molloy and Prof. Paul O’Toole without whom the study would have been impossible. The work was expertly conducted by Drs. David Keohane with Tarini S. Ghosh and Ian Jeffery.

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