The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF) Group and Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) are pleased to announce its esteemed Michell-McGrath Fellowship has been awarded to University of Adelaide gastroenterologist Associate Professor Robert Bryant, to advance novel treatments in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The $1.8 million five-year Fellowship will be undertaken at the BHI and is focused on translational research which addresses a clinical need within The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH).
A/Prof Bryant is currently Head of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Department of Gastroenterology, TQEH; Research Lead, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Group, BHI; and Clinical Associate Professor, Adelaide Medical School, The University of Adelaide.
He is also a co-founder of biotech company BiomeBank, which pioneered the use of faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT – or stool transplants) to treat bowel disease.
A/Prof Bryant’s Fellowship will focus on “microbial manipulation” – using both diet strategies and FMT to improve the diversity and quality of a patient’s gut microbiome, which in IBD patients is often lacking.
“Inflammatory bowel conditions are debilitating and ongoing for patients, with high rates of surgery, hospitalisation, poor quality of life and disability,” A/Prof Bryant said.
“Studies have shown a progressive loss of people’s gut microbial diversity in developed countries like Australia, often attributed to Western diets. These changes have been linked to increased rates of many diseases, including IBD.
“Microbial manipulation represents a new treatment paradigm that has the potential to bridge the therapeutic gap in IBD, using faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and prescribed dietary strategies.
“I am so grateful to The Hospital Research Foundation Group, Basil Hetzel Institute, Central Adelaide Local Health Network and The University of Adelaide for providing this opportunity to deliver high-quality clinical studies direct to patients and have a positive impact on patients’ quality of life.”
A/Prof Bryant will commence his Fellowship in January 2023, based at the BHI. The Fellowship was awarded via a competitive, application-based process.
Paul Flynn, CEO of THRF Group, said improving IBD treatments was a huge area of need, with Australia having one of the highest rates of IBD in the world.
“With such debilitating and painful symptoms, the need for research and patient support for inflammatory bowel conditions is crucial,” Mr Flynn said.
“We wish to extend a huge thank you to our generous donors, fundraisers and ticket buyers in the Hospital Research Foundation Home Lottery for enabling this important research program.”
Professor Guy Maddern, Director of Research at the BHI, said the focus on patient outcomes was critical for this Fellowship.
“The BHI prides itself on producing collaborative, high quality and internationally recognised research which aims to improve clinical care for South Australians,” Prof Maddern said.
“A/Prof Bryant is taking a novel and innovative research approach that will develop world-leading knowledge of microbial fermentation processes and metabolomics to advance towards a cure.”
The Michell-McGrath Fellowship is named in honour of former long-time Board Members of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Research Foundation (now The Hospital Research Foundation Group), John Michell and Ray McGrath.