The Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) is Australia’s first research centre solely dedicated to studying the microbiota in health and disease. The MRC was established at St George Hospital in 2017 with a federal government grant awarded to the SSMRF.

Mission

The MRC’s mission is to tackle the health priorities of the Australian Government. The MRC uses the National Health Priority Areas (NHPA) as the template for expanding the research collaborations and infrastructure, drawing together the best available talent and expertise locally, nationally and internationally. Clearly the translational impact of this research will take several years to be fully realised but the agenda is very clear: to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.

The MRC continues to expand its collaborative research agenda and now has 127 research projects including 28 international projects spanning across global hospitals, universities and medical research institutes. 

Research themes

The MRC’s research is focused on the following five key pillars:

  • Cancer
  • Women and children’s health
  • Infection, inflammation and immunity
  • Critical care
  • Mental health and neuroscience

The MRC is particularly interested in gastrointestinal cancers including gastric, oesophageal and colorectal, liver cancer and skin cancer. The MRC is are also studying the role of the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease, Helicobacter pylori infection and its associated diseases, fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, pregnancy and pregnancy-related diseases, urogynecological diseases, thrombosis, schizophrenia and various autoimmune diseases.

Funding

Over the past four years, MRC researchers have achieved significant success with research grant funding, securing over $21 million in addition to the $6 million federal grant to SSMRF.

Clinical research projects

Two of our MRC Seed Grant funded studies have evolved into major Australian clinical research projects, the MothersBabies Study and the Australian IBD Microbiome (AIM) study

The MothersBabies study aims to investigate the role of the microbiome in pregnancy and its outcomes in the mothers and their babies. It is unique in starting at the preconception stage and following women for up to a year postpartum and their babies for the first few years of life. The study outcomes will include defining signatures of outcomes of pregnancy, for example, healthy, preeclampsia, diabetes, obesity, etc, as well as constructing multi-omic predictive signatures based on preconception microbiome.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an incurable chronic disabling disease that impacts the health and quality of life of many people. Australia has high incidence/prevalence rates of IBD, with an annual cost to society of $3.6 billion. The ever-growing population of St George and Sutherland Shire currently stands at 0.5 million and includes ~2,000 IBD sufferers.

The intention of the AIM study is to generate crucial data relating to the Australian IBD microbiota signature. This information will help to generate novel predictive models for translational utility to the clinic. The ultimate aim is to change the course of this lifelong disease thus enriching the health of the community through medical research at St George and Sutherland hospitals.

Visit the MRC website.

Microbiome Research Centre team