COVID-19 Critical Research Programme

ANPC in front line response to COVID-19

Our COVID-19 Critical Research Programme is addressing the most important health problem on the planet right now.

The global impact of COVID-19 has already been profound. The health and possible public order threat is complicated by the highly linked economic fragility and volatility the uncertainty brings. The Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) is undertaking major research to better understand and mitigate the COVID-19 virus pandemic threat. The team, led by world-renowned phenomics pioneer Professor Jeremy Nicholson, will look at improving the identification of carriers and assessing the efficacy of treatments for COVID-19.


A singular threat to society

The COVID-19 virus poses a singular threat to society if immediate action is not taken. The virus is new and there is much to learn about infectivity and individual and population risk in a very short time.

Since its emergence, there has been considerable progress made in developing tests for COVID-19 with a reasonably rapid turn-around time of a few hours. However, there is still a critical unmet need in understanding how the virus establishes itself in the host with substantial variation in susceptibility in impact; from little or no apparent effect to death.

Understanding the pathways to infection and the biological consequents will enable the development of effective treatments and vaccines to mitigate the current threat. This will also prepare us for subsequent viral threats.


Uniquely positioned to contribute to the solution

The Australian National Phenome Centre is situated in the Harry Perkins South building in Perth, Western Australia. This is co-located with the South Metropolitan Health Service COVID-19 Research Response (CRR) team, Western Australian DNA Bank, and close to PathWest Laboratories and major clinical facilities.

Collectively, these entities are uniquely placed to deliver hard science about the COVID-19 infections as they occur in the general population and set the benchmark for international research into the virus.

The outcome will be a genuinely unique WA driven translational response to the viral threat and a critical part of the clinical trials conducted at the Fiona Stanley Hospital site.

Australian National Phenome Centre
This is the most important healthcare challenge on the planet and there is no better equipped metabolic lab in Australia, or possibly anywhere, to undertake this type of work in an excellent clinical framework. Our goal is to deliver a real solution for real people in an accelerated time-frame.Professor Jeremy Nicholson

Our research approach

The ANPC’s COVID-19 Critical Research Programme embraces the next generation of medical practice beyond genomics known as metabonomics and metabolic phenotyping, also known as biological fingerprinting.

It is anticipated that all new COVID-19 patients at major Perth hospitals will be consented for testing on admission and later for clinical trials, with the ANPC running the samples from those trials and tests, including longitudinal urine and plasma metabolic monitoring.

Broad and deep metabolic analysis of blood plasma and urine samples will be performed in the laboratories of the ANPC. It will use a range of state-of-the-art NMR, mass spectrometry and data modelling approaches to create informative translational models.

The research programme will extend over the next 12-18 months. This timeframe will accommodate the current and predicted waves of infection.


Our laboratories

The ANPC laboratories are at PC2 level of biosecurity accredited (suitable for COVID-19 containing samples) and have some of the best instrumentation in the world for this type of diagnostic and prognostic discovery.

The Health Futures Institute at Murdoch also houses one of the most advanced genotyping facilities in Australia, led by Associate Professor Mark Watson, and has already developed a COVID-19 test capability.

The ANPC will work closely with this group and PathWest laboratories to create new diagnostic and prognostics markers of COVID-19 for WA, the nation and the world.

Learn more about our technology

Our team

Professor Jeremy Nicholson

An internationally renowned pioneer in metabolic phenotyping and systems medicine, Professor Nicholson leads the ANPC. He currently holds the appointment of Pro Vice Chancellor for the Health Futures Institute at Murdoch University.

Professor Nicholson is a Highly Cited Scholar who has published more than 800 peer-reviewed papers on molecular aspects of body systems medicine. A Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Science, Professor Nicholson comes to WA from Imperial College London where he was the founding director of the MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre and previously Head of Surgery and Cancer. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Biological Chemistry at Imperial College London.

Professor Elaine Holmes

Professor of Computational Medicine and Premier’s Fellow, Australian National Phenome Centre, Murdoch University, Professor of Chemical Biology, Imperial College London.

Dr Ruey-Leng Loo

Professor of Computational Medicine and Premier’s Intermediate Fellow, Senior Lecturer, ANPC, Murdoch University.Fellow, Australian National Phenome Centre, Murdoch University, Professor of Chemical Biology, Imperial College London.

Professor Toby Richards

Michael Lawrence Brown Chair of Surgery UWA, Honorary Professor Institute of Clinical Trial Methodology University College London, Director COVID Research Response.

Professor Merrilee Needham

Senior Consultant, Director of Research, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch University & University of Notre Dame Australia.


Download our brochure for the full list of ANPC research leaders.


Research partners

Bruker Biospin and Bruker Daltonics

The ANPC is proud to have a strategic alliance with Bruker who have supplied all NMR spectroscopic instrumentation and the major proportion of our mass spectrometry instrumentation.

We look forward to working with them on new analytical solutions to create diagnostic methodologies for COVID-19 and other emergent clinical challenges.


Contact us

General enquiries

Professor Jeremy Nicholson
Pro Vice Chancellor (Health Futures Institute)
+61 8 9360 2893

Postal address

Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC)
Murdoch University, Perth campus
90 South Street, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150.