Professor Emad El-Omar in front of MRC and UNSW logos

About MRC


UNSW Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) is nestled within the grounds of a major health care campus in southern Sydney, the St George and Sutherland Hospitals, it was founded in 2017 by Prof Emad El-Omar, Professor of Medicine at UNSW Sydney. Development of the MRC was boosted tremendously by the efforts of the St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation, which in 2017 was awarded a $4M grant from the Australian Federal Government and in 2018 an additional $1.5M by the NSW Government and $1M from the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District exclusively to support the setting up of the MRC.


Collaborative multidisciplinary microbiome research

The MRC is imbued with a collaborative multidiscipline ethos connecting national and international researchers, clinicians, bioinformaticians, innovators and entrepreneurs primarily through the partnership between St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation, UNSW Sydney, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District. It offers unrivalled opportunities for training for the next generation of researchers in medicine and allied health specialties. It is here that basic science discovery drives better patient care and champions a healthy microbiome for a healthy life. To find out more about our areas of interest, visit our research page.


Our facilities

The MRC epicentre and laboratories are based at the St George and Sutherland Hospital Campuses which are major teaching hospitals of UNSW.

What is the microbiome?

Humans are host to an enormous invisible ecosystem of microbes that influence almost every system in the body. The most common microbes that live in or on our bodies are bacteria, archaea, viruses, protozoa and fungi. This intriguing community of microbes are collectively known as our microbiota.

Our microbiota contributes to over fifty percent of our cellular makeup and can influence a wide range of physiological functions including our mood, appetite and immune responses. The collective genetic material of the microbiota, our microbiome, is remarkably dynamic. Our body harbours several niche composites of microbiome ecosystems within the gut, skin, reproductive tract, liver, eyes, mouth, nose and even within our belly button!

Why is microbiome research important?

We know very little about how our microbiome swings the pendulum between health and disease. What we do know is that there is an inextricable link between the diversity and balance of our microbiome and our susceptibility to disease.

The abundance of our thriving beneficial microbes keeps the pathogenic microbes in check and maintains a harmonious balance. However, when pathogenic microbes dominate, this balance is disturbed and we enter a state of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is associated with several diseases including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and asthma. Our lifestyle choices, our diet, our use of antibiotics and medications and the environment we live in can influence the composition of the microbiome.

Our research is realising the captivating potential of the human microbiome as a novel target for human health. By understanding how over 1 million genes contributed by the human microbiome, together with our 25,000 inherited genes nurture our state of health, we can better improve diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of several diseases.