Media releases

University to conduct major microbiota research

Posted: Thursday 19 October 2017

Federation University Australia has signed an agreement with Vedanta Biosciences to conduct research investigating the role of the gut microbiota in infant health in Papua New Guinea.

The US$100,000 project will be led by Dr Andrew Greenhill from the Faculty of Science and Technology at the Gippsland Campus.

Dr Greenhill will lead a collaboration between FedUni, the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, James Cook University and international collaborators to determine whether the community composition of the gut microbiota correlates with risk of infection or other adverse health outcomes.

“The gut microbiome has received a lot of attention in recent years, but to date most studies have focused on the impact the microbiome might have on people living in high income countries, in particular in relation to non-communicable diseases such as obesity and immune disorders,” Dr Greenhill said.

“We believe there are likely to be interactions between the gut microbiota and infectious diseases as well.

“Our preliminary work in Papua New Guinea has revealed some interesting patterns to date, but has not addressed this specific issue. The infant mortality rate in Papua New Guinea remains higher than in most other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and diarrhoeal diseases are a common cause of illness and death in young children,” Dr Greenhill said.

“This grant provides us with the opportunity to explore relationships between the development of the gut microbiome and immunity in children in the first 12 – 15 months of life.”

The grant has been in the planning stages for some time. Dr Greenhill acknowledged the work of the many administration staff at FedUni who have helped bring the grant to fruition.

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