Barr Lab


I am always looking for new and exciting ways to present and share my research and knowledge about bacteriophage – the viruses of bacteria. If you have any exciting and collaborative ideas, please contact me.

First phage therapy case with Barr-lab produced phages

Old Cure Revived | The Age 

"A treatment first used more than a century ago, that uses bacteria-killing viruses, to counter a growing crisis of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne has become the first health service in Victoria to begin using the pioneering phage therapy."

A recent article in The Age highlighted our clinical collaborators at The Alfred Hospital with a state-first use of phage therapy to treat a patient's antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.

The phages used were produced by The Barr Lab using our in-house phage production facility - The Monash Phage Foundry.

Beating the Superbugs | A Different Lens

Episode in A Different Lens by Monash University

Antibiotic resistance is the number one global challenge in the battle between mankind and microbes and has been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the three greatest threats to human health. 

The widespread use of antibiotics since the 1940s has resulted in the emergence of super-smart superbugs and “we don’t have the drugs or the chemicals to combat it any longer”, warned Monash research fellow Jeremy Barr.

“I define a superbug as a micro-organism that we’ve pushed to its evolutionary limit in the sense that we’ve been using antibiotics and antimicrobial agents against it for decades and it’s now starting to fight back,” he said.

This increasing resistance to antibiotic treatments means that the risk of complications from surgeries – even minor scratches – could be fatal.

If the current trend in antimicrobial resistance is not altered, it is estimated that, by 2050, 10 million people a year will die from superbug-related infections, outstripping cancer and heart disease as our number one killer.

Watch this latest episode of A Different Lens to learn more about how we can beat the superbugs.


As antibiotic resistance threatens millions of lives, is phage therapy the best alternative?

Phage Therapy | Sydney Morning Herald

"With a new wave of deadly superbugs seriously threatening public health across the globe, scientists are hoping phage therapy will become a weapon of mass bacterial destruction."

Good Weekend magazine discussing our lab's experience in phage therapy and the role phages will play in combating the antibiotic-resistance crisis.

We Might Absorb Billions of Viruses Every Day | The Atlantic

Article in The Atlantic by Ed Yong.

An article written by Ed Yong from the Atlantic about our latest bacteriophage transcytosis research published in mBio. An exert of the article is below:

The viruses, Jeremy Barr realized, were in the wrong place.

Barr and his colleagues at San Diego State University and Monash University had grown a layer of gut cells in a dish, much like those that line the surface of our own twisting intestines. The cells formed such tight connections with each other that bacteria couldn’t sneak past them. Even a dye couldn’t get through. The layer was meant to be impermeable, until the team infused the water on one side of it with viruses called phages.

After a few hours, they found a few of these phages on the other side. The cells had absorbed them at one end, and shoved them out the other. “It took us a while to realize what we were seeing, but when we did, it was really exciting,” Barr says.

Barr believes that the same process happens in our bodies, frequently and relentlessly. If he’s right, it means that our guts are absorbing billions of viruses every day, sending a steady stream of them into our bloodstream and the rest of our organs."

Gut Feelings exhibition at Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum | Gut Feelings exhibit

Did you know that 1-2kgs of your weight is made up of around 38 trillion microbes? Melbourne Museum launched the Gut Feelings exhibition on Friday 15 March, offering visitors a chance to discover helpful gut microbes, walk through the gut tunnel and find out how microbes affect our thoughts, behaviour and bodies.


The Barr Lab contributed interactive displays communicating how antibiotic resistance emerges and the role bacteriophages can play in combatting these infections.

The Invisible War | Small Friends Books

the invisible war artThe Invisible War: A Tale on Two Scales is an illustrated science-history story exploring parallel experiences during World War I on two different physical scales. On a macro level – the collective battle taking place between allied and enemy troops, on a micro level – a microbial fight for survival in dysentery-riddled trenches of the gut. The story will be fiction, but is based on scientific and historical facts.

The history of the microbial world during World War 1 was undoubtedly fascinating. During the human-scale battles that we know so much of, hidden beneath the trenches was a battle of a different kind. The servicemen and women’s own bodies served as micro-frontlines where microbes of all kinds waged war in a valiant attempt to save their human symbiont from infection and disease. The enormous number of Australians who suffered and died from dysentery during WW1 makes this an important story to be told.

 Our lab’s recent discoveries from the bacteriophage adherence to mucus (BAM) model demonstrate that there is an amazing symbiosis that takes place between us, and the bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) living inside our mucus. This research formed some of the scientific inspiration behind this story.

Novel phage therapy saves patient with multidrug-resistant bacterial infection

A recent EurekAlert! aritlce out discussing a recent phage therapy case that The Barr lab was involved in.

Scientists and physicians at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, working with colleagues at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Center (NMRC), Texas A&M University, San Diego State University, a San Diego-based biotech and elsewhere, have successfully used an experimental therapy involving bacteriophages — viruses that target and consume specific strains of bacteria — to treat a patient near death from a multidrug-resistant bacterium.

 The bacteriophage cocktails used in this study were prepared by our lab using our previously published methodology; “Phage on tap–a quick and efficient protocol for the preparation of bacteriophage laboratory stocks” that was published in PeerJ.


Discovered in WWI, bacterial viruses may be our allies in a post-antibiotic age | The Conversation

Artilce in The Conversation

Written by Gregory Crocetti and Jeremy J. Barr

As we again reflect on the sacrifices our Anzac soldiers, nurses and doctors made during the first world war, another centenary goes by unnoticed by most Australians.

It celebrates a scientific discovery made behind the Western Front, one that might soon affect the health and life of many Australians. Bacteriophages (viruses that attack bacteria) – described by Felix d'Herelle in 1917 – may now be the answer to a world where antibiotics are losing effectiveness.

So when remembering our troops, doctors and nurses this Anzac Day, consider also tipping your hat or your glass to the vital role bacteriophages play in our world. One day our health might just depend on them.

Going Viral | The Scientist Magazine

From therapeutics to gene transfer, bacteriophages offer a sustainable and powerful method of controlling microbes.

By Breeann Kirby and Jeremy J. Barr


As little more than carriers of DNA, bacteriophages serve to shuttle genes between diverse ecosystems. The viruses take up genetic material from their bacterial hosts and donate it to future hosts, both near and far. Such genetic movement can spread bacterial traits such as virulence, antibiotic resistance, or adhesion capability–and even introduce novel genes to new environments. While viruses can only move short distances outside of a host, the migration of bacteria, or of the megafauna that bacteria infect, allows phages to traverse the globe.

BAM | Press Coverage

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