Dr. Thomas Hitch is a post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Prof. Thomas Clavel at the University Hospital of RWTH Aachen. With a PhD in bioinformatics, his research utilizes a mixture of bioinformatic, and traditional microbiology approaches to address questions around the functional potential of gut microbes. In addition to functional analysis of gut microbes, his expertise extends to taxonomy, having led projects naming multiple novel taxa, including major members of the human gut microbiota. Using the functional information obtained from our in house strain collections, we have developed tools and methods to create synthetic communities consisting of both known, as well as novel taxa, which capture the key functions associated with a phenotype or health condition. While these can used within research as simplified communities, they may also have therapeutic applications as probiotics or a defined replacement method for faecal microbiota transplants.