Microbes cause some of the world’s most critical health problems and are responsible for approximately one-third of deaths worldwide each year. Emerging and re-emerging pathogens such as Zika virus, Salmonella and multidrug resistant Escherichia coli are a constant and rapidly evolving threat. Microbes interact with host organisms in both health and disease and therefore it is critical to understand how they survive, evolve and replicate.

UNSW School of Biotechnology & Biomolecular Sciences is committed to fostering a collaborative and vibrant community of diverse researchers, educators and students. We are dedicated to a broad range of research and teaching activities providing the groundwork for combating critical infectious disease problems.

Our research focuses on transmission, evolution, pathogenesis, replication, prevention and treatment, with an aim to combat the invisible microbes that remain a huge biological challenge affecting both human and animal health.

The burden of infectious disease continues to be significant in Australia. The potential for serious outbreaks presents a major public health challenge and requires rapid detection, and effective control and prevention strategies. Microbes in health and disease research is conducted in collaboration with other research institutions, public health organisations, quarantine services, and agricultural and animal production sectors.

We bring together a wide range of internationally recognised research expertise to investigate the microbiological factors affecting a range of vital health issues including:

  • tracking the evolution of pandemic norovirus responsible for millions of cases of acute gastroenteritis globally
  • the use of mathematical, computational and statistical methods to understand biological systems, including the dynamics and evolution of pathogens
  • understanding the molecular evolution and genomic epidemiology of bacterial pathogens including Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough), Salmonella, Shigella and Vibrio cholerae
  • investigating the role of human-hosted Campylobacter species such as Campylobacter concisus in chronic gastrointestinal diseases and the molecular mechanisms by which gut bacterial species impact on immunotherapy
  • determining the role Helicobacter pylori virulence determinants, the immune response and host genetic factors in the causation of H. pylori-related disease.
  • the role of the gut microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease
  • understanding whether viruses such as human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr initiate carcinogenesis
  • deciphering how Candida albicans (the major fungal pathogen) grows, divides and colonises the human colon, and exploting this basic knowledge to develop novel antifungal strategies
  • exploring the regulatory networks that control and coordinate expression of virulence genes in microbial pathogens like toxin-producing E.coli and multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus.

Related people

Head of the Transplantation Immunology Laboratory Garvan Institute of Medical Research Shane Grey
Head of the Transplantation Immunology Laboratory Garvan Institute of Medical Research
Associate Professor Li Zhang
Associate Professor