Associate Professor Andrew Holmes
Associate Professor Andrew Holmes is a microbial ecologist, with expertise in the description of microbial communities, and the linkage between the microbial communities in the gut and health. The gut is the key interface between the environment and an animal’s health by virtue of being the site of nutrient uptake, a major endocrine organ and a major immune organ. One of the surprises of the last decade is the finding that the communities of microbes in the gut differ from individual to individual and that these individual differences in composition of the microbial community in the gut are associated with variations in metabolic, endocrine and immunological health.
The aim of Associate Professor Holmes’ research is to develop tests based on analysis of the microbial composition of fecal samples that will enable improved clinical management of patients with health conditions that are influenced by the microbial communities in the gut. These conditions include obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Holmes has made a number of significant contributions to the development of molecular microbial ecology. These include the development of strategies to identify organisms contributing to novel biochemical processes and integration of patterns in microbial communities across multiple spatial scales. He received the 2006 Fenner Prize from the Australian Society for Microbiology.
A key aspect of the structure and goals of the new centre is that it will contribute and lead to sustainable healthcare. By approaching healthcare issues from a systems perspective, the new centre will generate solutions that can be applied at the population scale such as lifestyle interventions, as well as at the individual level such as specialised pharmaceuticals.