OUTBREAK industry partner Microba is a Brisbane-based biotech company that specialises in analysing microbial genomics, specifically – gut bacteria. Dr Ken McGrath is Microba’s Technology Liaison Manager…

Q: What is your role with OUTBREAK?

My background is molecular genomics, so I’ve done a number of research projects looking at the composition of microbial communities and how they interact with their environment.

Microba is helping the OUTBREAK project by providing insights into the background levels of antimicrobial resistance in the Australian population. That’s done through the opt-in research project that Microba runs through our Insights program.

Q: How long has your company been looking at the issue?

Microba has been around for a little over two years. In that time, we’ve been able to capture what the gut microbiome of Australians looks like and, through that, we can look for the presence of antibiotic resistance in the population.

Using Microba’s database of Australian gut microbiomes, we can start to tease apart the background levels of antibiotic resistance. We can look through time and understand if it’s increasing or decreasing and respond accordingly.

Q: To that end, how useful is OUTBREAK going to be to Australians?

I think we can all agree that infectious diseases are high on the priority list for the globe. So, systems and programs that aim to monitor the potential risks, but also act as an early detection system so we can respond more effectively and efficiently to those threats, are really needed.

OUTBREAK has the chance to lead the world in showing a system and a model of how this can work in practice.

Q: Why do you think it’s important?

The threat of antibiotic resistance is real and we’ve known this for some time.

OUTBREAK gives us the opportunity to use advances in technology to improve public health, and it’s really exciting to be a part of that.

Dr Ken McGrath has a PhD in Molecular Pathology from the University of Queensland, with a research background in microbial community genomics, including human and environmental microbiomes and metagenomics analysis. Ken has also been a part of several international microbiome research projects.

Find out more at microba.com


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