Gut microbiome: getting to the guts of weight control

Investigating the influence of gut microorganisms on weight

Gut microbiome Nutrition Describing populations: the phenonomology of disease Biology of disease

As many of us know only too well, attempts to lose weight often fail, despite our best efforts to modify our diet. One reason for this is thought to be the relationship between our weight and conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression. While this link is believed to relate to the activity of microorganisms found in the gut, the mechanisms involved are not well understood.

The Charles Perkins Centre has brought together a multidisciplinary team of microbiologists, neuropathologists, nutrition scientists and behavioural psychologists to investigate exactly how our gut microorganisms interact with the rest of our bodies. Their aim is to develop strategies that will take these interactions into account in helping us to maintain a healthy weight.

Our gut houses an enormous population of microorganisms, with each of us having an individual gut microorganism ‘profile’. The activity of these microorganisms modifies the chemical composition of the food we eat, influencing how our bodies use it to produce energy and fight disease. Despite their microscopic size these tiny living things therefore hold significant sway over the major regulatory control systems of the body, including our metabolic, immune and nervous systems, and ultimately over our food choices and other behaviours.

The primary aim of this research group, led by Associate Professor Andre Holmes from the School of Molecular Bioscience, is to determine both the nature and the extent of the influence of these gut microorganisms on the overall functioning of the human body.
By uniquely collaborating across complementary but traditionally separate disciplines, the group will then correlate its findings to develop personalised lifestyle interventions that take into account each individual’s gut microorganism profile, making successful weight management more achievable.

The project leader

Andrew Holmes is an Associate Professor in Biochemistry, School of Molecular Bioscience.

The collaboration team



Dr Eline Klaassens

Postdoctorate Microbiology

School of Molecular Bioscience

Elissa Liew


Yi Vee Chew


Laura Woolfenden


Mia Zeric


Connie Ha

PhD Candidate

School of Molecular Bioscience

Jayden Huynh


Claire Thompson


Professor Stephen Simpson

ARC Laureate Fellow

Academic Director, Charles Perkins Centre

School of Biological Sciences

Professor Ian Caterson

Boden Professor of Human Nutrition

Director, The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders

The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders

Dr Markus Hofer

Lecturer for Molecular Biology and Genetics

School of Molecular Bioscience

Professor Peter Reeves

Professor of Microbiology

Australian Genomic Information Centre

School of Molecular Bioscience

Dr Kim Bell-Anderson

Senior Lecturer, Human Nutrition, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin and Leptin Signal Transduction

School of Molecular Bioscience

Anand Hardiker


Professor Len Storlien

Director of Obesity Research

Boden Institute of Obesity Nutrition & Excersise

Sydney Medical School

David James


Greg Cooney


Ian Paulsen


Jon Iredell


Sally Partridge