Summer School I

Microbiota, Symbiosis and Individuality

Most multicellular organisms from plants to animals are hosts to a vast array of microorganisms. In recent years it has become apparent that the microbiota is not just a silent tenant to the host, but that its presence can shape the development, health and behavior of the host. Thus the question of individuality arises. To what extent does our microbiota influence who we are? And is our microbiota part of ourselves?

From July 1st-5th 2019 the ERC IDEM team organized a summer school exploring conceptual issues related to Microbiota, Symbiosis and Individuality. 20 young philosophers, biologist and medical students came to Biarritz to learn, discuss and develop new interdisciplinary approaches.

Course leaders

Thomas Bosch (via video-conference) is Professor of General Zoology at Kiel University. His research focuses on how organisms, together with their colonizing microorganisms, have evolved into a multi-organismic unit in the course of evolution.

Scott Gilbert, Professor emeritus at Swarthmore College, he is a specialist of ecological developmental biology, developmental genetics, embryology, and the history and critiques of biology.

Rob Knight is a Professor at the University of California San Diego and the co-founder of the American Gut Project. He is also a co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project, and the founding Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation.

Jan-Pieter Konsman is a CNRS investigator in neuroscience (neuroimmunology) at the INCIA lab, Bordeaux, France. He also works in philosophy of science.

Johannes Martens is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the FNRS Institut Supérieur de Philosophie of the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Thomas Pradeu is a Senior CNRS Investigator in philosophy of science and PI of the ERC IDEM project. He focuses on philosophy of immunology, especially immune-microbiota interactions, developmental biology, and physiology.


Please click here for more information on our course leaders.

Preliminary program

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Thank you

The ERC IDEM Summer School is over and we would like to thank all course leaders and participants for making this summer school a roaring success.


The ERC IDEM (“Immunity, DEvelopment, and the Microbiota”) project explores the problem of biological identity at the interface between immunology, microbiology, and developmental biology. It has been funded by the European Union with an ERC starting grant.