The University of Western Australia

Mark Nichol


Presentation Title


Early life microbial exposures and health outcomes in young African children



Our exposure to microbes in early life shapes our immune system, impacts on growth and neurodevelopment and affects our risk of infection. Mark will draw from his experiences studying children participating in a birth cohort in a low-income South African community to explore how detailed study of these microbial exposures can help us better understand the role of the microbiome in early child health. In particular, he will describe recent work exploring the relationship between the nutritional content of breast milk, the breast milk microbiome and lactational outcomes, and discuss how the microbiome of the upper airways may modulate the risk of pneumonia in children.


Mark Nicol is Professor of Microbiology in the Division of Infection and Immunity within the School of Biomedical Sciences at UWA. He also holds an honorary appointment at the University of Cape Town. He studied medicine and medical microbiology at the University of the Witwatersrand and completed his PhD in childhood tuberculosis in Cape Town. His group uses modern molecular tools to study the complex microbial communities in the human body, investigating how imbalances in these communities cause illness. He also has an interest in developing and evaluating better diagnostic tests for infections, particular for diseases of poverty. Much of his work focuses on respiratory infections in children, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.