Saturday 27 June is World Microbiome Day, a global celebration of all thing’s microbe, designed to raise awareness of the vibrant and diverse world of microbes – the name given to the enormous collection of microorganisms that live within and on our bodies. The most common microbes that live in or on our bodies are bacteria, archaea, viruses, protozoa and fungi.
The St George Hospital is the home to Australia’s very first microbiome research centre based in a clinical setting, the UNSW Microbiome Research Centre (MRC). The MRC is a comprehensive world-class microbiome-focused research centre solely dedicated to studying the microbiota in health and disease.
Officially opened in 2019, MRC has continued its drive to tackle the health priorities of the Australian Government. It 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.
MRC Director, and Professor of Medicine at UNSW, Professor Emad El-Omar commented “Clearly the translational impact of this research will take several years to be fully realised but our agenda is very clear: to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians”.
The 2020 World Microbiome Day theme is ‘Diversity’- celebrating diversity of microbes, microbiome habitats, diets to feed and fuel microbiomes and the diversity among microbiome researchers.
With a strong core research in the following five themes: Cancer, Women’s and Children’s Health, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Critical Care and Mental Health and Neuroscience, the MRC is a prime example of the diversity among microbiome research and researchers.
The MRC Team is now 32 strong, this includes several higher degree students. Over the last 12 months, the MRC has expanded its collaborative research agenda to include over 90 projects that cut across the National Health Priority Areas. These studies did not exist prior to the Federal Government funding that enabled the setting up of the MRC.
In 2019 the St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation, which was instrumental in the formation of the Microbiome Research Centre was awarded a MRFF, Accelerated Research Grant of $2 million from the Department of Health. This grant will support two iconic microbiome studies, the MothersBabies and the Healthy Optimal Australian Microbiome (HOAM) studies for a period of two years.
RELATED: The MothersBabies Study will examines how a mother’s health affects baby.
Professor El-Omar said determining how to prevent or treat disease from pre-pregnancy and into childhood had the potential for positive health outcomes for future generations
SSMRF provides vital research funding to its doctors, researchers and allied health workers.
SSMRF chief executive Leanne Dib said the Foundation was proud to support the Microbiome Research Centre.
Another study underway is The Building Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Research Capacity – The St George and Sutherland IBD Project will see the creation of a database to help improve treatments and patient care.
In celebration of World Microbiome Day on 27 June 2020, the MRC have planned several activities including exclusive interviews, daily microbiome facts, and a 5-Day Microbiome Quiz! Head to http://microbiome.org.au for more information.