Professor Gene Tyson awarded $3.3M ARC Laureate Fellowship

Prof. Gene Tyson

Professor Gene Tyson has received a $3.3 million ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship for a project titled, From a descriptive to a predictive understanding of the human microbiome.

An established, internationally recognised leader in microbial ecology, Professor Tyson has pioneered meta-omic and bioinformatic approaches for studying microbial communities from both clinical and environmental systems. He established the Centre for Microbiome Research at QUT in 2020.

Professor Tyson’s Laureate research will leverage meta-omic technologies, advanced bioinformatic tools developed by his team and the power of machine learning to create a platform that enables detailed exploration of the human gut microbiome.

“The human body is home to trillions of thriving bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, and viruses, yet science has only scratched the surface in our understanding of their importance,” Professor Tyson said.

“We know that disruptions in the gut microbiome are associated with systemic health problems such as chronic inflammatory disorders, metabolic disease, and cancer, which is why the human gut has become one of the most extensively studied ecosystems in microbiology.”

However, there is still a lot we don’t know about these microorganisms and the functions they perform.

“Collectively, we harbour more than 4500 different microbial species, but fewer than a third of them have been grown in the laboratory,” Professor Tyson said.

“Our team has developed new ways to isolate and grow this uncultured majority.

“This research will discover and characterise many microorganisms new to science and use this knowledge to simulate how microbial communities will respond to specific changes.

“With this new predictive capacity, scientists can design effective prebiotics, probiotics, and live biotherapeutics to promote a healthy human microbiome and to treat a range of chronic diseases.

“More broadly, the methods we develop to study microbial ecosystems will have utility across all life sciences, from agriculture and environmental science to ecology and biotechnology.”