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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


Staff Scientist


The foundation of Hilary's work is based upon culturing of the strict anaerobic bacteria that comprise the majority of the human intestinal microbiota. Whole genome sequencing of the isolated bacteria facilitates genomic and metagenomic analyses, this combined with in vitro phenotypic studies leads to functional insights and a move towards establishing causation in different disease states.
We have developed techniques to culture most of the intestinal microbiota. This provides a valuable resource to understand the underlying biology of these health-promoting bacteria and also to study their role in different diseases using in vivo and in vitro models. In addition, these bacteria can be used to develop therapeutics to treat diseases associated with the intestinal microbiota. Hilary is particularly interested in the role of spore-forming bacteria in the human intestinal microbiota, their ecology and evolution, how they differ functionally from non-spore-forming bacteria and how spore-formation promotes transmission of anaerobic bacteria between individuals.




Key publications: 
  • A human gut bacterial genome and culture collection for improved metagenomic analyses.

    Forster SCKumar NAnonye BOAlmeida AViciani E et al.

    Nature biotechnology 2019;37;2;186-192

  • Transmission of the gut microbiota: spreading of health.

    Browne HPNeville BAForster SC and Lawley TD

    Nature reviews. Microbiology 2017;15;9;531-543

  • Culturing of 'unculturable' human microbiota reveals novel taxa and extensive sporulation.

    Browne HPForster SCAnonye BOKumar NNeville BA et al.

    Nature 2016;533;7604;543-546

  • HPMCD: the database of human microbial communities from metagenomic datasets and microbial reference genomes.

    Forster SCBrowne HPKumar NHunt MDenise H et al.

    Nucleic acids research 2016;44;D1;D604-9

  • Epithelial IL-22RA1-mediated fucosylation promotes intestinal colonization resistance to an opportunistic pathogen.

    Pham TAClare SGoulding DArasteh JMStares MD et al.

    Cell host & microbe 2014;16;4;504-16

  • Functional genomics reveals that Clostridium difficile Spo0A coordinates sporulation, virulence and metabolism.

    Pettit LJBrowne HPYu LSmits WKFagan RP et al.

    BMC genomics 2014;15;160

Wellcome Sanger Institute
Intestinal microbiota; evolution of intestinal spore-forming bacteria in human gut.
Dr Hilary   Browne
Not available for consultancy


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