CRE Digestive Health Pilot Grants


Consumer Partnering and the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: Attitudes and Opportunities to Improve Participation for Rural and Remote Communities

Principal Investigator: Nicole Marinucci

Feasibility, Safety and Efficacy of Combined Aerobic and Resistance High-Intensity Interval Training for People with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Principal Investigator: Emily Cox

Patient-reported perceptions of dietary management in the ‘Diet in Crohn’s disease study’

Principal Investigator: Georgina Williams


Examining the impact of adolescent cannabinoid exposure on endocannabinoid signalling in the gut

There are significant links between adolescent cannabis use and the development of psychological disorders in adulthood. Given the link between the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system it is essential to understand the mechanisms underlying these changes. The endocannabinoid system (ECS), comprised of cannabinoid receptors, is a key neuromodulatory system that is critical to gastrointestinal functioning. The ECS is a potential pathway to examine GI functioning, gut-brain interactions and potential therapeutic options. Importantly, the effect of adolescent cannabinoid exposure on the ECS is lacking research and a better understanding of these impacts and mechanisms, both acutely and long-term, is needed.

Principal Investigator: Ms. Annalisa Cuskelly

Investigating mucosa-associated microbiome changes in patients with spirochete infection

Human colonic spirochetosis (CS) is usually caused by the infection of Brachypira pilosicoli and/or Brachyspira aalborgi, it is considered a rare gastrointestinal (GI) infection in the general population and the bacteria are traditionally believed to be commensals. However, recent research and our unpublished systematic review and meta-analysis has found significant associations between CS and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), CS and diarrhea symptom. Given the importance of infection-microbiome-immune-symptom axis, this study aims to investigate the variations in the spirochete community, and mucosa-associated microbiome (MAM) in CS cases with IBS-like symptoms.

Principal investigator: Dr. Kening Fan

A web-based interface for diet-microbiome-disease models

We aim to characterise and differentiate disease-specific microbiome associations with dietary intake in coeliac disease (autoimmune), Crohn’s disease (inflammatory) and functional dyspepsia (FD). To do so, we will develop a novel proof of concept analysis platform for dietary assessment and microbiome data to ‘talk to each other’. We will then use data from the Digestive Health Biobank (DHB) to test the model we develop. This study will progress understanding of disease-specific diet-microbiome interactions and generate a diet-microbiome-disease analysis tool for the Centre for Research Excellence, Digestive Health (CRE-DH). We predict disease-specific microbiome responses to different dietary and food components in the model.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kerith Duncanson


Effect of high intensity interval training (HIIT) on human gut microbiome functional diversity, inflammation and body composition in colorectal cancer survivors

The human gut microbiome influences tumour growth and spread in individuals with colorectal cancer, as well as indirectly influencing the risks of secondary cancers via inflammation and immune function. Exercise can mediate the burden of colorectal cancer, risk of recurrence and cancer-related mortality. Moreover, exercise interventions in healthy and obese-sedentary individuals have been shown to improve microbiome functional diversity, yet no studies exist in cancer populations. This study will examine changes in the microbiome, and its relationship with changes in body composition and inflammation, in response to high-intensity interval training in colorectal cancer survivors.

Principal Investigator: Associate Professor Tina Skinner

Impacts of food additives on the duodenal mucosa-associated microbiota

This project uses mixed cultures and select isolates of duodenal bacteria I have produced from tissue biopsies of subjects with no symptoms and negative endoscopy, as well as others with functional dyspepsia, to characterise how food additives commonly used in Western diets affect: 1) the growth and metabolism of these communities and select bacterial isolates 2) the immunomodulatory potential of the secretomes produced from these cultures The expected outcomes from this project are to determine how common food additives affect the ecological and/or immunomodulatory impacts on the duodenal microbiota, providing new insights relevant to managing diet-microbe interactions and digestive health.

Principal Investigator: Ms. Lauren Schooth

Investigating circadian rhythms and melatonin metabolism in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Functional gastrointestinal conditions (FGIDs) are heterogenous conditions that exhibit subtle gastrointestinal tract (GIT) inflammation and immune activation. Recent advances in immunology implicate circadian rhythms in regulation of immune responses, and FGID patients report fatigue and disordered sleep, suggesting circadian disruption. These pathways warrant investigation in the context of mechanisms underlying immune activation in FGIDs. As such, we wish to investigate if dysregulation of circadian rhythms (chronodisruption) is a feature of these conditions, which include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia (FD). If confirmed, modulation of circadian rhythms may be a promising therapy to reduce immune activation in these patients.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Grace Burns