Diverse mix of ages

The Healthy Optimal Australian Microbiome (HOAM) Study

What does the ultimate healthy microbiome look like? Researchers at UNSW Microbiome Research Centre are trying to find out.

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.  Through the HOAM Study, researchers at UNSW Microbiome Research Centre hope to shed some light on this by defining what the ultimate-healthy and normal microbiome looks like.

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) -read more here 

  • Adults (age 19 to 65) and not active more than 3 hours per week - Join now


  • Teenagers (age 13- 18) -Join now 

  • Very Senior adults (age 95 and older) -Join now

  • Elite and professional athletes (age 19-45) -Join now

This is a non-intervention study, so there is no medications or treatments to undergo. If you take part in the study, you would be asked to provide a sample of your poo (stool), a blood sample and an oral swab as well as some complete some clinical assessments.  Additionally, you will be asked to complete some surveys about your health, lifestyle and medical history and some tests of your cognition.


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
  • Have not had major gastrointestinal surgery such as bowel resection or bariatric surgery

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 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.

How to participate


Click the join the study link below, complete the short survey and a member or our team will get in touch with the next steps.



Email: HOAM_study@unsw.edu.au

Phone: +61 2 9348 0691

This study has been Approved by the South Eastern Sydney LHD Research Ethics Committee 2019/ETH13001.