Older couple man and woman looking at each other

The Healthy Optimal Australian Microbiome (HOAM) Study - Alzheimer's and Dementias Group

Dementia is a complex neurodegenerative disorder which leads to a decline in mental health.

Recent research has shown that Alzheimer's disease symptoms can be transferred from human patients into animal models by transplantation of human gut microbiome into the animals highlighting the important role of the microbiome in cognitive changes.

The Healthy Optimal Australian Microbiome Study hopes to understand what the microbiome of people living with dementia, including Alzheimer's dementia, looks like here in Australia.  We hope results from this work will enable new therapeutics to be developed to tackle this life altering condition.

What is the microbiome?

Living within each one of us are many communities of microorganisms (or microbes). While some microbes can coexist within our bodies without causing harm, or indeed promote health, others are responsible for causing disease. Microorganisms, just like humans and other organisms, contain DNA.  The collective term for DNA belonging to the microorganisms which live within us is called the “microbiome”.

Why is the microbiome important?

The microbiome plays an important role in maintaining the health of the person that they reside within, the host.  They can play an important role in the development and maintenance of the immune system, regulation of the metabolism through the production of short chain fatty acids.  Additionally, the microbiome has known roles in the gut brain axis as well as providing resistance to inflammation, infection and disease causing -pathogenic microorganisms.

There is an abundance of research demonstrating the interplay of the microbiome and diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and liver disease however, there still a massive gap in our understanding of what a “normal” and “healthy” microbiome looks like and what the microbiome looks like for people who are living with dementia.

What do we hope to do with the results?

When we understand what the microbiome looks like in health and also in dementia, we can determine what the difference is between both and develop therapeutics to replenish or replicate the healthy microbiome in people with dementia. With future work, we hope to test these therapeutics in a clinical trial.

How you can help

To make this study a success, we are seeking participants for several groups. These include.

  • Senior and very senior adults with a clinical diagnosis of dementia (age 65 plus) 

We are inviting anyone with a diagnosis of dementia, to take part. This includes all types of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia. 


You may be eligible to participate in this study if you:

  • Can provide a stool, blood, urine and oral swab samples
  • Can have some clinical measures taken e.g. height, weight and blood pressure
  • Can complete a survey about your diet, mood, and lifestyle
  • Can complete a computer-based ‘brain-game’ cognition test (optional)
  • Have not had antibiotics in the last 3 months (although please contact us if you have but would still like to take part)
  • Have not had major gastrointestinal surgery such as bowel resection or bariatric surgery

How to participate

To take part in the study call the study team on 02 9348 0691 or email hoam_study@unsw.edu.au 


Frequently asked questions

This is a single time point study. You provide your samples only once. The online surveys will take about an hour to complete. Sample collection is done at home however we ask you to come to St George hospital or one of our other hospital sites to provide a blood sample and to drop off your other samples.

Blood collection and sample drop off sites are across NSW. and include the following hospitals:

  • RPAH, Concord, Canterbury, Randwick, Sutherland, St George, Royal North Shore Hospital,
  • Liverpool, Campbelltown, Fairfield
  • Westmead, Blacktown/Mt Druitt, Nepean
  • Gosford, Wyong, John Hunter Hospital, Taree, Kempsey, Lismore, Tamworth
  • Wollongong, Shellharbour, Nowra

Many individuals with dementia have participated in our study, thanks to the help of family members and caregivers like yourself.

Based on our experience with previous participants, we understand that there are many questions about how to join the study and where to complete the necessary tasks.

We take pride in our ability to customise the study to fit your needs and the needs of the person you are caring for.

It's important to recognize that each person with dementia experiences the study in their own unique way.

For caregivers, a brief phone call is often the most effective way for us to understand your specific situation. This allows us to determine the best approach for both of you to successfully complete the study without any pressure.

Feel free to reach out to us at 02 9348 0691 for a casual conversation and to get more information. There's no obligation whatsoever.

At this time we are only able to take people on the study with dementia who are over 65 years of age. 

If you have early onset dementia or mild cognitive impairment or know someone who has either condition keep an eye on our website for other opportunities to help.