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ASEAN Microbiome Nutrition Centre (AMNC)

About Us

Bacteria in your gut have the potential to help or harm your health. They secrete substances (metabolites) that regulate immunity, metabolism, behaviour and organ function throughout the body, including in the brain, liver, skeletal muscle and bone. Depending on the metabolite and location, the effect can either be beneficial and support healthy ageing or detrimental, causing neurodegenerative conditions including dementia.

Such age-related health problems are on the rise in Southeast Asia, as nations face ageing populations. The impact of these health conditions stretch beyond the individual, resulting in increased caregiver burden for families and societies.

Therefore there is a pressing need to find novel ways to diagnose, monitor and treat such conditions, and bacteria in the gut may hold the key. The ASEAN Microbiome Nutrition Centre (AMNC) has been established to discover how gut microbes and their metabolites communicate with organs and influence health and ageing biology.

AMNC aspires to undertake research activities that aim to maintain functional capacity that delays progression of chronic age-related symptoms, to work closely with the food industry to develop microbiome-informed next generation food products, and to engage in education programmes to disseminate information on the interplay between gut microbes, nutrition and aging are in line with these needs.

The pinnacle:
The microbiome interacts with the human host, ultimately influencing health and disease 
The core:
Scientific research forms our ‘path’ for understanding of microbiome-host interactions
The base:
Food products form an effective tool to alter our microbiome towards healthy ageing


The AMNC is a bidirectional partnership between Singapore and Malaysia engaging the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) in Singapore and Sunway University in Malaysia, and an international virtual network Centre engaging several universities and institutes world-wide and in Singapore:


  • Southeast Asia: National University of Singapore (Singapore), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), National Neuroscience Institute (Singapore), and Sunway University (Malaysia)
  • Australia: Murdoch University (Australia), and Adelaide University (Australia)
  • Europe: Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), Imperial College London (United Kingdom) and
  • North America: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR; Canada)

The Director of AMNC is Professor Sven Pettersson.

The key research activities at Singapore will be based at the S9 building, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore Kent Ridge Campus. At Malaysia, the key research activities will be led by Dr Say Yee How and will be based at the Department of Biological Sciences labs, School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University, Sunway City.


Our Vision and Mission

  • Identify mechanisms and molecules by which gut microbes prolong health span or attenuate effects of biological ageing.
  • Deliver outstanding research and create translatable outcomes for the prolongation of health-span applicable to all individuals, to healthcare institutions and stakeholders in the region.
  • Become an intellectual attractant that work closely with clinicians and local food companies to develop next generation food products, targeting gut microbes to slow down biological ageing.
  • Work closely with relevant partners to educate and disseminate knowledge on the interplay between gut microbe functions and human health  

AMNC forms an integral part in advancing the investigative research studies on various neurological and age-related diseases at NNI, including but not limited to Parkinson's disease, dementia, neuroinflammation, metabolic syndrome (type II diabetes, obesity).

Our main focus is the identification of gut microbe related mechanisms that regulate biological aging and validation of the identified microbe signaling pathways and metabolites that respond to food interventions and promote healthy aging in animal models and human pilot trials.

Food intervention guides gut microbes to promote a prolonged health span. Accelerated aging-related symptoms occur when communication between organs and gut microbes deteriorates and are strongly associated with changes in the gut microbe composition. While the eukaryotic genome is fixed, gut microbes, in stark contrast, are malleable and accessible to intervention strategies using food products.

We aim to set up collaborations and work closely with the local food industry to develop next generation food products that influence age-specific microbe-signaling pathways and undertake translational research in small clinical trials aiming to promote a healthy metabolic balance by manipulating the gut microbiota.

Our goal is also to engage in education programmes that aim to disseminate information on the interplay between gut microbes, nutrition and aging, ensuring training of next generation investigators and healthcare professionals and by participating in the development of self-instructive education programmes for families and the public at large.

News Release: New research centre to study how gut microbes in the human body affect health and ageing


Our NNI Team

Professor Sven Pettersson, MD, PhD;

Executive Director
Dr Anusha Jayaraman

Personal Assistant to Prof Sven
Mavis Meng Wei

Senior Research Fellow
Dr George Zhang Wei

Research Officer II
Sofia Erin George


Our Scientific Advisory Board


Our Programmes & Collaborations


  • National Neuroscience Institute (Singapore)
  • Sunway University (Malaysia)
  • Murdock University, University of Adelaide (Australia)
  • UK Dementia Research Centre (United Kingdom)

Oral Health

  • KK Women's and Children's Hospital (Singapore)
  • National Dental Center Singapore (Singapore)
  • National Cancer Centre Singapore (Singapore)
  • Karolinska Institute (Sweden)

Disease Diagnostics

  • National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  • Singapore General Hospital (Singapore)
  • KK Women's and Children's Hospital (Singapore)
  • Sunway University (Malaysia)
  • Murdoch University (Australia)

Food & Aging

  • At-Sunrice, SG Veg Farms (Singapore)
  • Sunway University (Malaysia)


Our Publications

  • Melby, M.K., Tharmabalan, R.T., Sällberg Chen, M., Pettersson, S., Jayaraman, A*. (2023). Gut Microbes: Gateway to Reshaping Biological Aging. In: Handbook of Aging, Health and Public Policy. Springer, Singapore.
  • Jayaraman A*, Pettersson S. Happy ageing by trusting our gut microbes. BBRC Invited Review 2022; 633:88-91.
  • Low DY, Hejndorf S, Tharmabalan RT, Poppema S, Pettersson S. Regional Diets Targeting Gut Microbial Dynamics to Support Prolonged Healthspan. Front Microbiol. 2021;12:659465. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.659465. PMID: 33995322.
  • Wang Q, Luo Y, Ray Chaudhuri K, Reynolds R, Tan EK, Pettersson S. The role of gut dysbiosis in Parkinson's disease: mechanistic insights and therapeutic options. Brain. 2021 Oct 22;144(9):2571-2593. doi: 10.1093/brain/awab156. PMID: 33856024.
  • Wei GZ, Martin KA, Xing PY, Agrawal R, Whiley L, Wood TK, Hejndorf S, Ng YZ, Low JZY, Rossant J, Nechanitzky R, Holmes E, Nicholson JK, Tan EK, Matthews PM, Pettersson S. Tryptophan-metabolizing gut microbes regulate adult neurogenesis via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 6;118(27):e2021091118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2021091118. PMID: 34210797; PMCID: PMC8271728.


Contact Us

Looking to collaborate with the AMNC or have any queries?

Contact Mavis at