Our group studies the role of the gut microbiota in health and disease with a specific focus on immune-mediated digestive diseases and disorders. We also conduct research with colleagues in the cancer theme to characterise the role of the skin microbiota in cell transformation and wound healing. It appears that microbial “dysbiosis” is a hallmark associated with these conditions, but the triggers and functional bases of this phenomenom are still largely undefined.

In collaboration with clinican scientists and industry partners, we use innovations in sampling, genomic-, and culture-based systems to shine light on microbial dark matter, with the goal of using genetic-, organismal and dietary approaches to restore a healthy microbiota, resilient to disease recurrence.  

As such, our laboratory uses a combination of “omics” techniques with contemporary methods of microbial and cell biology, to discover “new” microbes and their genetic potential to affect host response via inflammatory and/or tumorigenic processes.

We have developed novel methodologies to quantify microbial load on digestive tissue, as well as to capture and characterize mucosa-associated microbial communities along the gastrointestinal tract. By doing so, we have been able to establish how these communities influence clinical-based indices of symptom severity and gut health. This knowledge offers new opportunities for the risk stratification of patients in terms of their responsiveness to pharmacological and/or immunotherapeutic interventions for disease remission.

  • Professor Mark Morrison

    Chair & Group Leader Metagenomics & Chair & Group Leader Metagenomics
    Frazer Institute
    Affiliate Professor & Affiliate Professor
    School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences

Our current research projects focus on:

  1. The Eastern IBD gut microbiota (ENIGMA) project, comparing the microbial communities in Australia and SE Asia in incident Crohn’s disease patients. 
  2. The NHMRC Centre for Excellence in Digestive Health, which uses novel ex-vivo combinations in microbe- and cell-culture methods to examine the pathophysiology of functional gastrointestinal disorders.
  3. Methanogensis and methanogens in IBD and related digestive disorders.
  4. Bringing genomes to life by the culture of “new” gastrointestinal and skin microbes.

Student projects

  • Wanted live not dead, bringing genomic data to life via novel culture-based methods.
  • Novel ex vivo combinations of microbe- and cell-culture studies to characterise the roles of the mucosa-associated microbiota in digestive diseases and disorders.


We have received funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council, the Helmsley Charitable Trust via the Australasian Gastrointestinal Research Foundation, and various industry partners.


We have long-standing collaborations with Professor Michael Kamm (University of Melbourne) and Professor Siew Ng (Chinese University of Hong Kong), as well as Dr Phillipe Langella and Dr Marion Leclerc (INRA, France). We lead the microbiome studies for the Australian Gastrointestinal Research Alliance and the NHMRC Centre for Digestive Health, which is a multicentre initiative involving Australian and international partners.

Professor Morrison serves as the Australian science representative to the International Human Microbiome Consortium.