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Chief Investigators

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley, AC

Professor of Medicine and Neurogastroenterologist, University of Newcastle, Staff Specialist John Hunter Hospital, NHMRC Leadership Fellow

Professor Nicholas J. Talley, AC, MD (NSW), PhD (Syd.), FRACP, FAFPHM, is a distinguished neurogastroenterologist and clinician, with a special interest in functional and eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders. He is currently Professor of Medicine at the University of Newcastle, NHMRC Leadership Fellow, Chief Investigator NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Digestive Health and Editor-in-Chief, Medical Journal of Australia. He has over 1000 publications and is considered an international authority in the field. In 2018, he was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for his research, NSW Scientist of the Year, and the Peter Wills Medal from Research Australia. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Mayo Clinic, University of North Carolina and the Karolinska Institute

Professor Gerald Holtmann

Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Princess Alexandra Hospital and Associate Dean Clinical, Health Faculties, University of Queensland, QLD

Professor Gerald Holtmann is an academic gastroenterologist with an outstanding track record in the field of Neurogastroenterology and Health Service Innovation. He is currently Director of the Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland and Director of Clinical Innovation for the Faculty of Health & Biomedical Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland. Prof Holtmann is Chair for the Functional Gastrointestinal Area within the Asian Pacific Association of Gastroenterology (APAGE) and Chair of Queensland’s State-wide Gastroenterology Clinical Network. He also serves as Vice-President of the German “Gastro-Liga and has experience as Chief Executive Officer and Non-Executive Director of large national and international health care organizations. He has authored more than 300 original peer-reviewed publications, review articles and book chapters.

Professor Marjorie Walker

Professor of Anatomical Pathology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Staff Specialist John Hunter Hospital, NSW

Professor Walker is Professor of Anatomical Pathology at the University of Newcastle, HMRI and holds an honorary staff specialist post at John Hunter Hospital. She relocated to Australia in 2012, previously, Reader GI pathology, Imperial College and Honorary Consultant St Mary’s Hospital, London UK. Her expertise as a histopathologist is in interpretation of clinical or molecular events in tissue sections, correlating clinical patient data with pathology and in immunocytochemistry to demonstrate cellular function or secretion. In clinical and animal studies histopathology makes a diagnosis, determines subtle alterations of immunity and inflammation by quantitative methods (cell counting) and confirms the presence of upregulated gene expression by immunocytochemistry as evidenced by studies on spirochaetosis as a cause for IBS. She is a founding member of AGIRA, the Australian GI Research Alliance, a coalition of GI researchers. Professor Walker has 187 peer reviewed publications, including 51 reviews, with contributions to 4 major international clinical guidelines in gastroenterology practice.

Professor Michael Jones

Professor of Psychology, Faculty of Human Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW

Professor Mike Jones is Deputy Head (Research) in the Psychology Department at Macquarie University, Sydney. Professor Jones’ dominant stream of research is the epidemiology of functional gastrointestinal disorders with a focus on understanding the mechanism of their association with psychological conditions and disorders and how psychological therapies benefit some FGID patients. Professor Jones primary training is in biostatistics and biology, BSc(Hons-1), PhD, and he has been accredited as a statistician by the Statistical Society of Australia (A.STAT) and the Royal Statistical Society (UK, C.STAT). He is an applied statistician with experience in both experimental and epidemiological studies and is particularly skilled at the interface between statistics and clinical research, with over 250 peer-reviewed publications. Professor Jones has been a member of the Cochrane Collaboration Statistical Methods group for over ten years. He also sits on the advisory board of a general practice accreditation authority.

Professor Mark Morrison

Chair of Microbial Biology and Metagenomics - The University of Queensland Diamantina Institut

Mark Morrison’s scientific expertise resides in the fields of microbial physiology, genetics and genomics, with a career-long focus on the gastrointestinal microbiota of humans and other herbivores. He provides leadership for the microbiome research and outreach activities for the CRE in Digestive Health. Professor Morrison joined the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in October 2013, as chair and principal group leader in microbial biology and metagenomics, and in addition to this role, he now serves as science lead for gastrointestinal function with the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. During his academic tenure in the USA, he led the team that produced the first genome sequences for Ruminococcus and Prevotella spp., with both genera now widely acknowledged to play a key role in establishing human gut “enterotypes”. His abilities to translate genomic and metagenomic datasets into a sound biological framework include a world-first: the metagenome-directed isolation of a “new” bacterium from a species-rich microbial community. He is Australia’s science representative to the International Human Microbiome Consortium, and serves on a number of Institute and industry advisory boards for gut microbiome research.

Professor Simon Keely

School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle and Group Leader, Hunter Medical Research Institute Gastrointestinal Research Group, NSW

Prof Keely is a Professor of Immunology and Microbiology in the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle and group leader of the Hunter Medical Research Institute Gastrointestinal Research group. Prof Keely’s work has focused on how intestinal tissues adapt to the metabolic stresses associated with intestinal inflammation and infection. His research approach is translational, employing in vitro molecular assays, in vivo models and ex vivo clinical assays. The majority of these works have been published in high ranking journals, and have contributed to our fundamental understanding of GI biology.

Professor Peter Gibson

Director of Gastroenterology, Alfred Health and Monash University, VIC

Professor Peter Gibson is a gastroenterologist who is Professor and Director of Gastroenterology at Alfred Health and Monash University, and Adjunct Professor at RMIT University. From a 20-year background of research in epithelial cell biology and gut immunology, he now runs a large program of translational research He is actively involved in studying the effects of dietary components on the healthy gut, and has ongoing clinical interests in inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Major aspects of his work include the use of diet to control gut symptoms and influence outcomes in chronic intestinal conditions, manipulation and assessment of the gut microbiota and its function, and optimisation of therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. His achievements have included leading the Monash team that developed and validated the low FODMAP diet for functional gut symptoms, and better defined the role of gluten in non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, work which has had profound effects on attitudes to and use of dietary therapies in chronic intestinal diseases. He has published more than 150 reviews and 230 peer-reviewed publications of his original work. He won several awards including the Distinguished Research Prize, Gastroenterological Society of Australia in 2010, Ten of the Best, National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia in 2016 and Monash University Vice Chancellor’s Award in Research Impact (Economic and Social Impact) in 2016.

Professor Sally Chan

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Singapore), University of Newcastle, NSW

Prof Sally Chan (BSc, MSc, PhD, FAAN) is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Singapore). She is also the Deputy Director of the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health at the University of Newcastle (UoN). She has extensive international connection and has been appointed as visiting professor in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the UK. Prof Chan is a world recognised research leader and pioneer in mental health and psychosocial intervention research. Her work involves adults and older people with chronic diseases, severe mental illness, dementia, cancer and psychosocial interventions to promote quality of life, coping and resilience of patients and family caregivers.

Professor Jan Tack

Professor of Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, TARGID (Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders), KU Leuven

Professor Jan Tack is Professor of Internal Medicine, University of Leuven, Belgium. He is also Head of Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Leuven, Belgium and Head of Clinic, Division of Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Leuven University Hospitals. Prof Tack is currently President of the Rome Foundation. He is editor of the United European Gastroenterology Journal and on the editorial boards of the Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Journal of Internal Medicine, Annals of Gastroenterology and Journal of Neurogastroenterology & Hepatology. Prof Tack has an outstanding academic track record. He has over 600 publications.

Professor Jeff Coombes

Professor of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland, QLD

Professor Coombes is Professor in clinical exercise physiology at The University of Queensland (UQ) and Chair of the Exercise is Medicine Australia initiative. His main research area involves understanding the role of exercise and cardiorespiratory fitness in health and disease. With expertise in physiology and biochemistry he investigates mechanisms related to the health benefits of exercise and approaches to keep people active. Prof Coombes is accredited as an Exercise Physiologist and Nutritionist and is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and Exercise and Sports Science Australia.

Associate Investigators

Professor Andrew Searles - University of Newcastle

Prof Searles leads the health economics unit at Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI). He also holds a conjoint appointment with the University of Newcastle. Andrew’s education is in economics (BEc), education (Dip Ed), medical statistics (MMedStat) and health economics (PhD). His research experience focuses on impact assessments, health economics and economic evaluations.

Dr Ayesha Shah - Princess Alexandra Hospital/University of Queensland

Dr Ayesha Shah is an early career researcher and junior academic Gastroenterologist based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. She has completed her PhD project at the University of Queensland that explored the relationship between the gastrointestinal microbiome and gut function.

Professor Emad El-Omar - University of New South Wales

Professor Emad El Omar (B.Sc. (Hons) in Pathology, M.B., ChB, M.R.C.P (UK), M.D) is Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. He also holds an appointment as Consultant Gastroenterologist at St George Hospital, Sydney. Prof El-Omar’s research interests lie in examining the role of gut microbiota in pathogenesis of colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, exploring the pathogenesis of Helicobacter pylori infection and its role in peptic ulcer disease, dyspepsia and gastric cancer, and understanding the role of host genetic factors in the pathogenesis of GI malignancy and the role of chronic inflammation in GI malignancy. He is the Director of the Microbiome Research Centre at St George Hospital/UNSW.

Kerith Duncanson - University of Newcastle

Dr Duncanson is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who works as a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle and rural research manager for NSW Health. She has a PhD in Nutrition and Dietetics and her primary research interest areas are the dietary aspects of functional gastrointestinal disorders and dietary assessment methodology.

Associate Professor Luke Wolfenden - University of Newcastle

A/Prof Wolfenden is a behavioural scientist and health services researcher. His work in health services research and health behaviour intervention is acknowledged through his work with the World Health Organization (WHO). Nationally, he is the Director of an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Implementation for Community Chronic Disease Prevention.

Dr Marcus Gray - Princess Alexandra Hospital

Dr Marcus Gray, BA (Psych, UniMelb), P.Grad Dip (Psych, UniMelb), PhD (Swinburne) is an NHMRC clinical research fellow at the Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland. Dr Gray is currently investigating how GI and circulating immunological markers in IBD/IBS mediate altered neural function underlying depressive and anxious symptoms. In addition he is investigating how dietary and anti-inflammatory interventions in these patients may alter neural function underlying psychiatric comorbidities which may lead to better defined FGID phenotypes, and thus personalizing treatment approaches.

Prof Mieke van Driel

Professor Mieke van Driel MD DTM&H MSc PhD FRACGP GCEL, is a general practitioner and an experienced primary care researcher with a strong track record in translation and implementation of research findings into the clinical setting.

Dr Natasha Koloski - Conjoint Princess Alexandra Hospital/University of Newcastle

Dr Koloski BA Hons (Psych), PhD (USyd) is an experienced researcher who holds a joint appointment with the UoN and Princess Alexandra Hospital. She holds an academic title of  senior lecturer at the University of Queensland. Dr Koloski has a PhD in psychological medicine. Her research is focused on the epidemiology and psychological associations of FGIDs including on the directionality of brain-gut pathways in these disorders.

Dr Patrick Hughes - University of Adelaide

Dr Hughes is an NHMRC CDA 1 (R.D. Wright) Biomedical Fellow (2016-2019). He is an experienced immunologist (human and animal colitis models) and sensory neuroscientist focussing on the lower GI tract, and curates a world-class biobank of well characterised human tissue from both IBS and IBD patients that includes mucosal biopsies, stool and blood.

Professor Paul Moayyedi - McMaster University

Dr Paul Moayyedi (BSc, MB ChB, PhD, MPH, FRCP, FRCPC, FACG, CAGF) qualified from Bristol University in 1988 and trained in Gastroenterology at Leeds’ General Infirmary.  He obtained a PhD and Masters in Public Health from the University of Leeds.  He was appointed Professor of Gastroenterology Health Services Research at the University of Birmingham in 2001 and then moved to McMaster University to be the first recipient of the Richard Hunt/AstraZeneca Chair of Gastroenterology in 2004 to 2016 and is currently the Audrey Campbell Chair of Ulcerative Colitis Research since 2017. Dr Paul Moayyedi has published over 400 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters which have been cited over 52,000 times with an h index of 109 according to Google Scholar. He is a proponent of evidence-based medicine and is the joint Co-ordinating Editor of the Upper Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Diseases Cochrane Review Group. He was also joint Editor-in Chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology 2010-2015.   He has led many large randomized controlled trials and observational studies.

Funded Research Fellows

Postdoctoral Fellow (ECR) Dr Nida Murtaza

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Functional Studies of Diet x Microbiota Interactions in Digestive Health.

Postdoctoral Fellow (ECR) Dr Yenkai (Kai) Lim

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Probiotics Research and Intestinal Spirochetosis.

Research Fellow (MCR) Dr Seungha Kang (UQDI, FoM)

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Metagenomics-Directed Characterization and Isolation of Novel Lineages of Gut Microbes.

Funded PhD Students

Nicola Bray

Supervisors: Dr Natasha Koloski, Professor Gerald Holtmann, Professor Nicholas Talley, Professor Michael Jones
University of Queensland

‘Gut you covered’: Delivering Effective and Acceptable Personalised Multidisciplinary Integrated Care for a Superior Treatment Approach for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGIDs).

Mudar Irani

Supervisors: Professor Nicholas Talley, Professor Marjorie Walker
University of Newcastle

Investigating the pathophysiology and treatment of rumination syndrome.

Jennifer Pryor

University of Newcastle

Microbiome and Immune-Phenotyping of Dietary Wheat Sensitivity.

Samwel Makanyengo

University of Newcastle

The Role of Microbial Oxygen Sensing in the Development of Anastomotic Leaks.

Veral Vishnoi

University of Newcastle

Microbiome of Surgical Site Infections.

Grace Burns

University of Newcastle

Immune characterisation of patients with functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.

Kening Fan

University of Newcastle

Modulation of the Microbiota in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Jessica Bruce

University of Newcastle

Mechanisms of Stress-Induced Intestinal Inflammation in GI Disease.

Kaylani Angerami Almeida

University of Newcastle

The Eosinophilc Microbiota – The Influence of Eosinophilia on the Mucosal Hostmicrobiota Homeostasis.

Analisa Cuskelly

University of Newcastle

The Impact of Perinatal Immune Challenge and Adolescent Stress on Gastrointesinal Inflammation and Integrity and the Relationship with Anxiety.

Georgia Carroll

University of Newcastle

The Impact of Surgery, Inflammation and Sepsis on Neutrophil Extracellular Trap (NET) Formation and Subsequent Metastatic Disease in Colorectal Cancer.

Raquel Cameron

University of Newcastle

Analysis of Diverticular Disease as a Comparative Study of Histology Tissue Sections using Laser Capture Microdissection to Determine Potential Microbiome Influences on Disease State.

Sharmila Prasad

University of Newcastle

Improving the Role of Pharmacists in Primary Care of IBD Patients.

Ms Lauren Schooth

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Defining the Role of the Mucosa-Associated Microbiota in Digestive Health and Diseases.

Mr Jing Jie Teh

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Defining the Role of the Mucosa-Associated Microbiota in Digestive Health and Diseases.

Mr James Volmer

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute

Comparative and Functional Analyses of the Methane-Producing Archaea from Gut Ecosystems.

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