We all have our own unique, diverse communities of microbes, our microbiomes, which are key to our health. I work to understand these species, how we can help them and how they can help us as treatments for disease.

Learn more about my group's research

Associate Professor Sam Forster

Areas of interest

Antimicrobial resistance COVID-19 Gastroenteritis Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) Microbiome in health and disease

Research group

Microbiota and Systems Biology


Associate Professor Sam Forster’s research is focused on gaining a fundamental understanding of the microbial communities that inhabit our bodies.

Termed the microbiome, these communities play an essential role in many aspects of our life. While we modify them every day through diet, medications, and lifestyle, we know practically nothing about their fundamental functions and properties. By gaining this knowledge A/Prof Sam Forster is developing the next generation of medicines that target and enhance the microbiome.

A/Prof Sam Forster’s research brings together expertise in microbiology, immunology, and computational biology to understand the function of the microbiome.

The key focus of A/Prof Sam Forster’s research is developing technologies to modify the microbiome in a rational and targeted way. This work ranges from better methods to characterise the microbiome in diseases from Inflammatory Bowel Disease to early life diseases and cancers, understanding the impact of diet, antibiotics, phage and microbiome composition on community structure and resilience to development of novel therapeutic combinations to treat disease.

A/Prof Sam Forster has made key contributions to foundational technologies for studying the microbiome. These include world-first methods to grow the bacteria from the human gut (Nature, 2016; Nature Biotechnology, 2019), cutting-edge methods to measure the microbiome (Bioinformatics, 2022) and ways to better model, understand and modify microbiome composition using MES scores and microfluidic organ systems.

In 2019 A/Prof Sam Forster established and continues to manage the Australian Microbiome Culture Collection – Australia’s first and largest publicly available microbiome culture collection. The collection is a critical resource for the scientific community in the identification and testing of treatments for microbiome-related conditions.

A/Prof Sam Forster works closely with leading industry partners in medical and agricultural settings, most notably the Adelaide-based biotechnology company BiomeBank. In partnership with A/Prof Sam Forster’s team, BiomeBank has become a world-leader in the development of rationally selected microbiome therapeutics and achieved world-first market authorisation for a microbiome-based therapeutic in 2022.

Awards and fellowships


Publication highlights