Associate Professor (Keith) Chee Ooi
Associate Professor

Associate Professor (Keith) Chee Ooi


Medicine & Health
School of Clinical Medicine

A/Professor (Keith) Chee Y. Ooi (MBBS, DipPaed, PhD, FRACP) is a Clinical Academic at the Discipline of Paediatrics, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine, UNSW and Specialist Paediatric Gastroenterologist at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, Australia. Clinically, he sees children with all aspects of gastrointestinal, pancreatic and nutritional conditions.


Dr Ooi graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2000, with the Clara Myers Prize in Paediatrics. He commenced training in paediatric gastroenterology at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, supported by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation Subspecialty Fellowship Award (2006, 2007). He accepted the offer of a 3-year clinical research fellowship (2007-2010) at the prestigious Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, to pursue a research path, undertake a PhD and broaden his clinical experience. He was supervised and mentored by late Dr Peter Durie (, a giant in the field of paediatric gastroenterology, CF and pancreatology. This was supported by the Sydney Children’s Hospital Travelling Fellowship Award (2007), Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Fellowship Award (2008-2010) and Career Enhancement Award, Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (2009-2010). He was awarded both the Dick Hamilton and Clinical Research awards in 2010 by the Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto respectively, for his research excellence. He returned to Sydney in mid-2010 as a clinical academic in pursuit of research and academia, while having opportunities for clinical interface within a tertiary hospital setting. He completed his PhD on genotype-phenotype correlations in CF at UNSW in 2014 and was awarded the Dean's Rising Star award (UNSW Medicine) in 2015.

Present and Future: 

Dr Ooi is a translational clinician scientist aimed at improving patient health outcomes. He is recognised internationally as an expert in gastrointestinal (GI) and nutritional issues in cystic fibrosis (CF). 

He established and leads a research program that has been continually funded since 2015 (PhD conferred in 2014).  Despite his clinical duties, he has led a successful program on CF Gastroenterology focused on GI inflammation, microbiome & pancreatic diseases related to CF and individuals who carry CF mutation(s). He built his research team from scratch to now include post-doctorals, research assistant, higher degree research (PhD and Masters) students and undergraduate research students.

He initiated/leads/collaborates with a local and international network of clinicians, allied healths and scientists. He has established industry partnerships for translational goals. He is the lead Chief Investigator a probiotic trial for children with CF (funded by the CF Foundation, USA). He is the only Australian (and only non-North American and non-European) Chief (Principle) Investigator of INSPPIRE (INternational Study Group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In search for a cuRE), which is the largest and most successful paediatric recurrent/chronic pancreatitis consortium globally (funded by the NIH, USA).

He has published widely (>100) in peer-reviewed journal articles and textbook chapters including as either first or last author in the highest ranked journals in the fields of gastroenterology (Ooi et al. Gastroenterology 2010; Ooi et al. Gastroenterology 2011), CF/pulmonology (Ooi et al. Thorax 2012; Ooi et al. Thorax 2014) and paediatrics (Ooi et al. Pediatrics 2015; Kumar, Ooi et al. JAMA Peds 2016). 

He is regularly invited to speak at prestigious international and national conferences. He has won numerous awards and receives research funding nationally and internationally.

His research expertise and leadership have been widely sought after, and has been leveraged into broader fields:

  • GI inflammation & microbiome program related to: (1) colon cancer in adults with CF; (2) impact of serious medical illness in infancy on childhood mental health; and (3) autism spectrum disorder. 
  • Pancreatic diseases program, including international studies in acute pancreatitis and as the only paediatric founding member of the Australia-New Zealand Alliance for Pancreas Research.
(02) 9382 5500
Centre for Child Health Research & Innovation Level 8, Bright Alliance Building Cnr of Avoca & High Streets Randwick, NSW 2031

Dr Ooi has secured a total research income >AUD $8 million.

Recent major funding successes as Chief Investigator (CI) include (1) >$1M for probiotic and microbiome research in CF (as lead CI: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, USA; 2018); (2) >$2M in philantropic donations in CF (2016, 2017); (3) ~$3M for childhood recurrent/chronic pancreatitis (National Institutes of Health, USA; 2015).  

Competitive – Chief Investigator


2019                            SWSLHD Clinical Knowledge Exchange Seed Funding Application

Investigating the role of chronic stress in children with autism

$40,000 (18 months)

Chief Investigator – D

(CIA – Adam Walker and Valsamma Eapen)


2019                            UNSW Medicine Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction Theme and SPHERE Clinical Academic Group

Collaborative Research Seed Funding

$40,000 (1 year)

Identifying Behavioural and Biological Profiles to inform targeted intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chief Investigator – D

(Eapen V, Walker A, Zieba J, Ooi CY, Masi A, Kasparian N, Morris M)


2019                            Australian Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust

                                    $50,000 (1 year)

The use of non-invasive biomarkers as a screening tool and the role of gut inflammation and microbes in adult cystic fibrosis colorectal cancer.

Chief Investigator – A


2018                            Evaluating the Gut-Brain Axis in Autism

                                    UNSW Medicine Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addictions Theme and SPHERE

                                    $19,926 (12 months)

Chief Investigator – C

(Margaret M, Eapen V, Ooi CY, Kasparian N, Kendig M)       


2018                            Research computer for bioinformatics and complex statistical analysis

Equipment Grant

                                    School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Medicine, UNSW

                                    $8,723.92 (12 months)

Chief Investigator - A 


2018                            Supporting Children with Complex Feeding Difficulties (SuCCEED)


SPHERE “Maridulu Budyari Gumal” (Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise) - Early Life Determinants of Health (ELDoH) Stream

$20,000 (12 months)

Chief Investigator

(CIA – Chris Elliott)


2018                            The PEARL-CF Study

                                    Clinical Research Award

                                    Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

                                    USD $999,183 (3 years) = AUD $1,295,041

                                    Chief Investigator - A


2017                            RNA therapeutics : novel paradigm in mutation independent CF therapy

                                    Cystic Fibrosis Australia Innovation Grant

                                    $70,000 (2 years)

Chief Investigator – D

(Waters S, Jaffe A, Morris K, Ooi CY, Patel H)


2017                            The Heart-Gut-Brain Axis: Investigating the impact of serious medical illness in infancy on child and adolescent mental health, gut microbiota, and stress hormone levels.

UNSW Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addictions and SPHERE Mindgardens. $40,000 (1 year).

Chief Investigator – E

(Kasparian N, Kan J, Callaghan B, Sholler G, Ooi CY, Winlaw D, Coffey M.)


2016-2017                   University of New South Wales

                                    Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education)



                                    Chief Investigator - A 


2016-2017                   Thrasher Research Fund - Early Career Award Program

USD $25,000 = AUD $32,402

Probiotics in infants with cystic fibrosis: Effects of early intervention

                                    Chief Investigator - A


2015-2020                   U01 Grant (U01 DK108334-01)

National Institute of Health, USA

USD $2,235,241 = AUD $2,897,000

International Study Group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In search for a cure

(INSPIRRE) to Study Pediatric Chronic Pancreatitis

Principal Investigator

(CIA – Aliye Uc)


2015-2016                   University of New South Wales Learning and Teaching Innovation Grant


                                    A Novel Computer-based Approach to Educating Medical Students through an Online Experiential Role-playing Game

                                    Chief Investigator - A


2015-2016                   Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation Seed Funding


Early Feeding in Acute Pancreatitis in Children – A Randomised Controlled Trial

Chief Investigator - A


2012                            Cystic Fibrosis Australia Research Trust

AUD $75,049

                                    Project Title: The “gut-lung axis”: defining & understanding the gut microbiota in cystic fibrosis

Chief Investigator – A


2012                            Servier Staff Research Fellowship, Royal Australasian College of Physicians Research and Education Foundation Award

AUD $10,000

                                    Project Title: Molecular characterization and understanding the effects of altered gut microbiota in cystic fibrosis

Chief Investigator – A


Philantropic – Chief Investigator


2018-2019                   University of New South Wales Foundation (Evolution Health Pty Ltd)

                                    PEARL-CF study


                                    Chief Investigator - A


2017                            University of New South Wales Foundation (Bank Of Queensland)

                                    The early life effects of probiotics on the gut in CF (PEARL-CF “Plus”)


                                    Chief Investigator - A


2016                            University of New South Wales Foundation (Evolution Health Pty Ltd)

                                    PEARL-CF study


                                    Chief Investigator - A


2016                            Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation

Establishing Ex Vivo models for accelerating drug discovery and treatment in cystic fibrosis (CF): Development of the Cystic Fibrosis Avatar


Chief Investigator


Competitive – Associate Investigator/Co-Investigator/Collaborator


2019                            Australian Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust

David Millar Giles Innovation Grant

“An Australian Alliance of personalised lab grown mini-organs to save the rarest of them all”

$45,000 (12 months; CI – Shafagh Waters)

Associate Investigator


2018                            Breakthrough Research Grant

                                    UNSW Business School

                                    Good Decisions in Education: The Smart Tech & Education Project (STEP)

                                    $80,000 (12 months)

                                    Associate Investigator


2017                            Supporting Children with Complex Feeding Difficulties (SuCCEED)


SPHERE “Maridulu Budyari Gumal” (Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise) - Early Life Determinants of Health (ELDoH) Stream

$50,000 (12 months)

Co-Investigator (Collaborator)


2014-2015                   R21 Grant (DK096327-02S1)

National Institute of Health, USA

USD $107,662 = AUD $140,000

International Study Group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In search for a cure


                                    Co-Investigator (Collaborator)


2012-2015                   R21 Grant (DK096327)

National Institute of Health, USA

USD $275,000 = AUD $360,000

International Study Group of Pediatric Pancreatitis: In search for a cure


                                    Co-Investigator (Collaborator)


2012                            University of New South Wales/Goldstar-NHMRC – APP1027693               

Project Title: Investigation of the role of the intestinal microflora in the aetiology of Crohn's Disease

AUD $40,000

                                   Associate Investigator – H

He has received: 

  • 3 research awards, including the UNSW Medicine Dean’s Rising Star Award in 2015.
  • 1 Best Oral Presentation award (Australasian CF Conference 2019)
  • 4 Poster awards

Research Areas:

  • Cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • Gut microbiome and inflammation
    • In CF, autism spectrum disorder and other chronic diseases
    • Evaluation of taxonomic and functional alterations of the gut microbiome to identify pathogenic mechanisms, correlations with clinical phenotype, and uncover novel therapeutic interventions.
    • Role of diet - "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food." (Hippocrates)
    • Impact on mental health and quality of life (via the "gut-brain" axis)
  • Pancreatic diseases
  • Pancreatitis


Summary Metrics: (updated Jan 1, 2020)

  • He has 97 peer-reviewed journal articles (including letters and editorials) with 58 (60%) as first and/or senior author. 69 of them (71%) were published since 2015 (PhD conferred in 2014) i.e. upward publications trajectory of ~240%.
  • 46 invites as symposium speaker (26 at international conferences).
  • 42 oral abstract presentations at international conferences (including those as senior investigator and presented by his student/trainee)


Examples of Research Achievements:

CF gastroenterology

  • Dr Ooi has clinical-research expertise and interests in gastrointestinal issues in CF including gut inflammation, changes in the gut microbiome, pancreatitis, pancreatic insufficiency and the emerging issue of increased risk of gastrointestinal cancers.
  • OOI et al. Gastroenterology 2011;140(1):153–161 ( This is the first study to unravel the complex relationship between severity of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) mutations and risk of pancreatitis. Developed & validated a novel surrogate measure of CF mutation and genotype severity, known as the “Pancreatic Insufficiency Prevalence (PIP)” score, with wide clinical & research application.  This score has been used clinically to predict pancreatitis risk and for patient education. This score has been used in research to classify cystic fibrosis (CF) patients by CFTR genotype. Methodology to derive score also directly adapted to study other CF phenotypes. 
  • His recent works has extended into understanding the disease processes affecting the gastrointestinal tract in CF, using faecal biomarkers (Pang et al. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015, Dhaliwal et al. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2015, Ooi et al. Dig Dis Sci 2015, Garg et al. J Cyst Fibros 2017, Garg et al. J Cyst Fibros 2018). 
  • Nielsen,…OOI (SENIOR AUTHOR). Sci Rep 2016;6:24857 ( Identified potential window of therapeutic opportunity in early childhood for CF gut dysbiosis, and provided justification for a probiotic trial in very young children with CF (AUD1.3M by the CF Foundation, USA) & industry engagement (national & international) for probiotic research. 
  • Kumar, OOI et al (CO-FIRST AUTHORS). JAMA Pediatr 2016;170(6):562-9 ( NIH funded. Showed childhood recurrent/chronic pancreatitis has different causative factors compared to adults, with genetic causes most frequent. The most frequent mutation identified were CFTR mutations. Findings incorporated/cited by 3 international guidelines. Genetic tests now recommended as part of routine workup for children with recurrent/chronic pancreatitis. 

CF diagnostic issues and non-classic manifestations

  • Dr Ooi is passionate about diagnostic issues related to children and adults with single-organ manifestations of CF (Ooi et al. Thorax 2012, Ooi et al. Thorax 2014) and newborn screen positive infants with an indeterminate diagnosis of CF (Ooi et al. Pediatrics 2015). He has experience in electrophysiological diagnostic tests, including the nasal potential difference test and intestinal ion channel measurement. He developed a novel diagnostic test for CF known as the “combined ion channel measurement” (Ooi et al. Ann Am Thorac Soc 2014).
  • OOI et al. Thorax 2012;67(7):618-24 ( Found the same CF patients who undergo same diagnostic tests can have different diagnostic outcomes geographically due to different guidelines. Led experts to revise into a single, global CF diagnostic guideline. Received an editorial & voted one of best 2012 articles by Thorax editor.
  • OOI et al. Pediatrics 2015;135(6):e1377-85 ( Findings showed decades-old clinical practice of discharging infants with inconclusive CF diagnosis to be inappropriate. 10% of these infants developed CF and risked missing out early therapies. Informed new international management guidelines.

Pancreatitis and pancreatic diseases 

  • Dr Ooi is an international expert in childhood pancreatitis. He has developed clinical tools for predicting severe ( and biliary causes ( of acute pancreatitis in children. He is Chief Investigator of an international randomised controlled trial in paediatric acute pancreatitis. Dr Ooi is a founding member of ANZ Alliance for Pancreatic Research. 

My Research Supervision

Dr Ooi supervises medical students (e.g. Independent Learning Projects and Honours) and higher degree research (PhD or Masters) students in his areas of research (refer above and to keywords).

My Teaching

Dr Ooi is an innovator in medical education and serious game developer. He is interested in improving the quality of teaching through novel innovative approaches to medical education.

He received the Learning and Teaching Innovation Grant in 2015 to develop PlayMed. PlayMed is a novel educational game to teach medicine through immersive, experience-based learning. His achievements with PlayMed has been featured in media such as The Australian “Gaming injects medical practice into studies” ( or and The Australian Hospital Healthcare Bulletin “In Conversation….. with Dr Keith Ooi” ( He is conducting a randomised controlled trial in serious games using PlayMed.

He is also the co-creator of VirtualDoc, which is the world's first virtual reality game to teach paediatric resuscitation. 

He was the Convenor for Paediatrics (Phase 3 of the undergraduate medical program) for the Faculty of Medicine, UNSW between 2010-2013.