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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Marcus de Goffau

Dr Marcus de Goffau

Research Associate


Born in Sri Lanka 1982. Attended schools in Cameroon, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. Did Masters in Wageningen University (cum laude), PhD and 1st Postdoc in Groningen University and 2nd Postdoc at the Sanger Institute. Married 10 years ago (2009) resulting in becoming the father of three girls (7, 8 & 9).

Subject groups/Research projects

Infection and Immunity:

Departments and Institutes

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute:

Research Interests

1: Specialized in the human fecal microbiome research, linking up complex composition (developments) with health and disease. Focus on Diabetes and on the early microbial composition (first 3 years of life) development in relationship to autoimmune disease development.


2: Analyzing large datasets of any kind. Using principal component and /or correlation analyses to find the main patterns of interest within any complex dataset. Examples include plasmid absence/presence data from various species possibly combined with antibiotics resistance gene data and/or phenotypic data, general gene absence/presence data or simply indeed microbiome data.


3: Making fun out of microbiome fields that attempt to characterize low microbial biomass niches. Many of these articles should only be read out of historical curiosity as most/many of them have failed to realize they are merely describing the contamination resulting in nonsense that can be likened to reporting blue whales in the Himalayas or African elephants in Antarctica.


  • Microbiome
  • Analysis of large datasets
  • Gut ecology
  • Sequencing contamination recognition
  • Type 1 diabetes

Key Publications

1: de Goffau MC, Lager S, Sovio U, Gaccioli F, Peacock SJ, Parkhill J, Charnock-Jones DS,Smith GCS. (2019), Human placenta has no microbiome but can harbor potential pathogens. Nature. Accepted.

2: de Goffau MC, Lager S, Salter SJ, Wagner J, Kronbichler A, Charnock-Jones DS, Peacock SJ, Smith GCS, Parkhill J. (2018) Recognizing the reagent microbiome Nature Microbiology 3:851–853.

3: Heida FH, van Zoonen AGJF, Hulscher JBF, Te Kiefte BJC, Wessels R, Kooi EMW, Bos AF, Harmsen HJM, de Goffau MC. (2016) A Necrotizing Enterocolitis-Associated Gut Microbiota Is Present in the Meconium: Results of a Prospective Study. Clin Infect Dis. 62(7):863-870

4: de Goffau, MC, Luopajärvi K, Knip M, Ilonen J, Ruohtula T, Härkönen T, Orivuori L, Hakala S, Welling GW, Harmsen HJM, Vaarala O. (2013). Fecal microbiota composition differs between children with with β-cell autoimmunity and those without. Diabetes, 62(4):1238-44.

5: de Goffau, MC, van Dijl, JM, Harmsen, HJM. (2011) Microbial growth on the edge of desiccation. Environmental Microbiology, 13(8) 2328-2335.