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Barwon Health / Research

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Child Health Research Unit at Barwon Health (CHeRUB)

It is well recognised that most non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, allergy, asthma, autism, ADHD, anxiety and depression have their origins in pregnancy and early childhood; a period described as ‘the crucial first 1,000 days of life’.

At the Child Health Research Unit at Barwon Health (CHeRUB) we study the origins of disease in the first 1,000 days and design strategies to provide our children with a healthy start. Our research brings together community effort and some of our best research minds; combining people-power with cutting-edge science. CHeRUB is leading paediatric research in Australia, if not the world.

Keen to find out more about clinical trials at Barwon Health?

Click here to watch CHeRUB trials in childhood asthma and wheeze: Prof Peter Vuillermin, Director of Research and Research Lead, Child Health Research Unit at Barwon Health (CHeRUB) (4 min)


Research Areas

Collaborating Organisations

Deakin University University of Auckland

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute 

The University of Melbourne  The University of Sydney

The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

Technical University of Denmark Mater Research Institute Griffith University Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
University of California

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)

Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics  Beijing Genomics Institute The University of Queensland

Children’s Inpatient research collaboration of Australia and New Zealand

University of Copenhagen Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Australian National Phenomes Centre  


Research Team

Research Staff

  • Professor Peter Vuillermin, Director
  • Nicola Cooley, Executive Assistant
  • Nakita Clements, Project Coordinator
  • Dr Martin O'Hely, Bioinformatician
  • Dr Luba Sominsky, Paediatric Research Fellow
  • Dr Yuan Gao, Research Fellow, Epidemiology
  • Mikayla Hoffman, BIS Operations co-manager
  • Carlie Butterworth, Research Assistant
  • Jasmin Foster, BIS Operations co-manager
  • Jacinta MaMahon, Research Assistant
  • Aneeshya Nidhin, Research Assistant
  • Thao Tran, laboratory Assistant
  • Callum Hollis, Research Officer
  • Malia Lardelli, Research Assistant
  • Todd Wallace, Research Assistant
  • Jordan Levinter, Research Assistant

Research Students

  • Viet Nguyen, PhD
  • Chloe Love, PhD
  • Jess Costa-Pinto, PhD
  • Rachel Morgan, PhD

Research News

Research Grants

  • NHMRC - Prevention of wheeze-associated hospitalisation in preschoolers with the immunomodulator OM85: a multi-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial: 2021-2025

  • NHMRC - A longitudinal population-based study of the development of Cardiovascular risk in early childhood: 2019-2024

  • Western Alliance – Pregnancy Research Translation Ecosystem: 2021-2022

Featured Publications

Gao Y, Stokholm J, O’Hely M, Ponsonby A-L, Tang MLK, Ranganathan S, Saffery R, Harrison LC, Collier F, Gray L, Burgner D, Molloy J, Sly PD, Brix S, Frøkiær H and Vuillermin P (2023) 'Gut microbiota maturity mediates the protective effect of siblings on food allergy', Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,

Luba Sominsky, Martin O'Hely, Katherine Drummond, Sifan Cao, Fiona Collier, Poshmaal Dhar, Amy Loughman, Samantha Dawson, Mimi LK. Tang, Toby Mansell, Richard Saffery, David Burgner, Anne-Louise Ponsonby, Peter Vuillermin. Pre-pregnancy obesity is associated with greater systemic inflammation and increased risk of antenatal depression. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity,
Volume 113, 2023, Pages 189-202 ISSN 0889-1591,

Dawson SL, O'Hely M, Jacka FN, Ponsonby AL, Symeonides C, Loughman A, Collier F, Moreno-Betancur M, Sly P, Burgner D, Tang MLK, Saffery R, Ranganathan S, Conlon MA, Harrison LC, Brix S, Kristiansen K, Vuillermin P and the BISIG (2021) 'Maternal prenatal gut microbiota composition predicts child behaviour', EBioMedicine, 68,

Maternal carriage of prevotella during pregnancy associates with protection against food allergy in the offspring. Vuillermin PJ, O’Hely M, Collier F, Allen KJ, Tang MLK, Harrison LC, Carlin JB, Saffery R, Ranganathan S, Sly PD, et al. Nature Communications. 2020;11: 1452.

Vitamin D insufficiency in the first 6 months of infancy and challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy at 1 year of age: A case-cohort studyMolloy J, Koplin JJ, Allen KJ, Tang MLK, Collier F, Carlin JB, Saffery R, Burgner D, Ranganathan S, Dwyer T, et al. Allergy. 2017;72: 1222-1231. 

Cord blood monocyte–derived inflammatory cytokines suppress IL-2 and induce nonclassic “T H 2-type” immunity associated with development of food allergy. Zhang Y, Collier F, Naselli G, Saffery R, Tang ML, Allen KJ, Ponsonby A, Harrison LC, Vuillermin P. Science Translational Medicine. 2016;8: 321.

Perinatal microbial exposure may influence aortic intima-media thickness in early infancy. McCloskey K, Vuillermin P, Carlin JB, Cheung M, Skilton MR, Tang ML, Allen K, Gilbert GL, Ranganathan S, Collier F, et al. Int J Epidemiol. 2016;46: 209-218.

The association between higher maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index and increased birth weight, adiposity and inflammation in the newbornMcCloskey K, Ponsonby A, Collier F, Allen K, Tang MLK, Carlin JB, Saffery R, Skilton MR, Cheung M, Ranganathan S, et al. Pediatric Obesity. 2016;13: 46-53.

Cohort profile: The Barwon Infant Study. Vuillermin P, Saffery R, Allen KJ, Carlin JB, Tang ML, Ranganathan S, Burgner D, Dwyer T, Collier F, Jachno K, et al. Int J Epidemiol. 2015;44: 1148-1160.


Support Our Research

Participate in a Clinical Trial

To find out about clinical trials currently underway at Barwon Health, click here.


Clinical trials require ongoing investment and there are several ways to support this amazing work.

You can make a donation today and contribute to an item on our research wish list, consider a bequest in your will, or establish a lasting legacy fund in your name. No matter what size, your philanthropic support with deliver an immediate impact.

To donate now or for more information and further discuss your support, please contact the Barwon Health Foundation.

Wish List

  1. $15,000 would fund of the Vivid –IQ a portable ultrasound machine to use on the BIS bus to assess cardiac function.
  2. $36,000 would fund the spirometry equipment and consumables to complete the lung function assessment in the primary school review.
  3. Funding for PhD student and early-career researchers is urgently required. The productivity of the BIS team is dependent on recruiting the highest quality research students and early-career researchers. Young researchers form the ‘engine room’ of any large-scale project, and represent a highly cost-effective investment not only in BIS, but in Australian research more broadly. Funding a PhD student and early career researcher for three years costs approximately $500,000. Given the quality of the data and biological samples assembled in BIS, with this level of investment the team will be able recruit and develop the best emerging research talent in the country.

Last Modified: Thursday, 21 September 2023

Research Lead


Professor Peter Vuillermin MBBS BMedSci FRACP PhD

NHMRC Career Development Fellow
Chair in Medicine | Director of Research
Deakin University | Barwon Health
Level 2, Health Education & Research Building (HERB), Barwon Health
Rear, Kitchener House, 299 Ryrie St, Geelong 3220


Contact Details

Nicola Cooley, Research Officer ([email protected]) 03 4215 3389

Related Links

Barwon Infant Study