University of Adelaide
Research Field: Paleomicrobiology
The human body contains over 1.4 kg of beneficial microorganisms (microbiota) which perform critical functions including digestion of food, production of vitamins, and protection against infectious disease. Changes in the microbiota are associated with a wide range of diseases linked with modern lifestyles such as obesity, diabetes, poor oral health and depression.
Dr Weyrich studies the ancient DNA preserved within dental plaque of ancient human specimens, allowing her to identify and compare the bacteria that once lived within the human body at different points in time and at various locations around the world. This research provides information on how and why our microbiota changes in response to lifestyle, diet, climate and environment. In addition to providing insight on past civilisations, Dr Weyrich’s research aims to uncover mechanisms of microbiota change that may be used to develop new therapies to treat or prevent diseases worldwide.
Laura’s research has been widely covered by international media outlets and was featured on ABC’s Catalyst program. She also leads the microbiology outreach program for under-privileged children with the Children’s University.