Monash academic Professor Dena Lyras awarded Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship

Professor Dena Lyras, ARC Australian Laureate Fellow

Monash University Deputy Director of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute Professor Dena Lyras has received an Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellowship for her work in gut health.

Professor Lyras, who is also the President of the Australian Society for Microbiology, was awarded $3.3 million over five years towards her project: Understanding how bacteria adapt and function in the complex gut ecosystem.

She is the first female academic from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) to receive the prestigious Fellowship.

Professor Lyras’s project aims to investigate the role of the gut ecosystem in defining the structure and function of microbes. In particular, the research will explore how animals and humans interact, and how that affects gut health.

The research will examine avenues such as the effect antibiotics given to livestock animals can have on antibiotic resistance in humans and animals and also how living in close quarters with animals can also affect human gut health.

“Given that one of the current challenges in microbiology is our inability to study individual microbes directly from complex, multi-microbial niches, this project aims to develop multidisciplinary methods to study microbes in their native state, to understand how they adapt to live in the gut,” Professor Lyras said.

She said this understanding should provide fundamental insights into adaptation mechanisms that lead to bacterial proliferation, disease and antibiotic resistance. As well as enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations, this work should provide economic benefits by contributing to improved gut health of animals, and more efficient food production.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC congratulated Professor Lyras on her Fellowship.

“The Laureate Fellowship recognises the innovative research being undertaken by Professor Lyras in an important area of health knowledge and development,” Professor Gardner said. “I offer my sincere congratulations on this significant and well-deserved accolade.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Senior Vice-President, Professor Rebekah Brown, said the Laureate demonstrated the strength of Professor Lyra's extensive contributions toward gut health research and microbiology.

“The Laureate Fellowship is one of the most prestigious research awards in Australia. This fellowship is a testament to Professor Lyras' incredible research and will improve the gut health of animals and deliver economic benefits for Australia at both a national and international level. My warmest congratulations to Professor Lyras and to the Biomedicine Discovery Institute on this remarkable achievement,” Professor Brown said.

Professor Christina Mitchell, Academic Vice-President and Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “It is fitting that the first woman at Monash Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences to be awarded this prestigious Fellowship is someone of Dena’s calibre who has delivered outstanding research and research leadership over many years. We are so proud of her career and impact in microbiology.”