McMaster University

McMaster University

Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute

Farncombe Family Degestive Health Research Institute

Improving Health From The Inside Out

The Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute is an integrated group of clinical and basic scientists dedicated to understanding the impact of digestive health and nutrition on disease across the life span.
[Read more about the Farncombe Institute]

News and Announcements

Celiac research here at the Farncombe Institute featured on CIHR's website


Despite the prevalence of genetic markers for celiac disease there is a much lower prevalence of actual disease symptoms. This suggests that factors other than genetics may have a big role in who develops the disease. Dr. Elena Verdu is doing important research on the role of bacteria in all of this and has found that while some bacteria can be protective for those at risk others can be detrimental. Read Dr. Verdu's interview on the CIHR website to find out more.


Support our team for the Gutsy Walk for Crohn's and Colitis

Farncombe Flatulence Fighters

Once again members of the Farncombe Institute are raising funds for Crohn's and Colitis Canada through fundraising for the Gutsy Walk on June 7th, 2015. Click here to donate to our team, the Farncombe Flatulence Fighters, or here to sign up for the Gutsy Walk.

Other fundraising events include a full-body workout bootcamp at Dundas Town Hall on May 4th at 6:30 pm and a bake sale in the Farncombe atrium from 9 am - noon on May 8th.

CDDW 2015

members of the Farncombe dressed up in costume

This year's Canadian Digestive Diseases Week (CDDW 2015) was well attended by members of the Farncombe Institute. The meeting program was packed with great talks and posters as well as some time for networking. See more here.

Scientific American discusses the work of Drs. Bercik and Collins on the gut-brain axis

Dr. Premsyl Bercik and Dr. Stephen Collins

In their in-depth segment on Innovation in the Microbiome, Scientific American discusses the role of gut microbes in mental health. The work of Farncombe members Dr. Premsyl Bercik and Dr. Stephen Collins on how the microbiota within the gut can affect personality is highlighted. See the article here.



High levels of circulating serotonin linked to obesity and metabolic diseases

Mice lacking Tph1 have increased metabolic rate and brown adipose tissue activity due to an inhibition of β–adrenergic signaling by serotoninThe bulk of the body's serotonin is found not in the brain but instead 95% of it circulates peripherally. In a new study coauthored by our own Dr. Waliul Khan, and published in Nature Medicine, high levels of serotonin in the gut have been found to reduce the metabolic activity of brown fat thus lowering the basal metabolic rate.They also found that a high-fat western diet triggered higher levels of circulating serotonin but that blocking the tryptophan hydroxylase (Tph1) enzyme that produces serotonin protected mice from high levels of obesity and fatty liver disease despite a high-fat diet. See coverage of this story on the CBC and the McMaster Daily News.

To Note ...

Farncombe faculty helps to develop new compound for treating celiac disease

Dr. Verdu helped to test the action of polymer BL-7010 now being formulated for a clinical trial in the treatment of celiac disease by the biopharmaceutical company Bioline RX Ltd. Before it made it to the the pharmaceutical industry, research on the compound was supported by the Canadian Celiac Association through awards to faculty and their trainees. read the full story

Trainee awards

Justin McCarville has been awarded the Dr. Jordan Page Harshman Bursary for the 2014-15 academic year by the School of Graduate Studies. Justin was selected because of his good citizenship, good social responsibility and leadership in society.

Dr. Heather Galipeau is the recipient of the Society of Mucosal Immunology Young Investigator Travel Award to attend the 17th International Congress of Mucosal Immunology 2015 in Berlin.

Drs. Ratcliff and Holloway receive funding from the Broad Foundation

Dr. Elyanne Ratcliff along with Dr. Alison Holloway were recently awarded the AGA-Athena Troxel Blackburn Research Scholar Award in Neuroenteric Disease to work on antidepressant use in pregnancy and risk of intestinal inflammation in the offspring.

Farncombe faculty receives CFI infrastructure funding to study human colon function

Dr. Jan Huizinga has been awarded Canadian Foundation for Innovation funding through the John R. Evans Leadership Fund to support work on human colon function. Specifically the funding will allow him to set up the equipment necessary to measure motility at 84 locations along the colon, giving fine scale information about gut function in health and disease. See the announcement here

Trainees awards

We're very proud to announce the many trainees who have received awards this year. Alberto Caminero and Giada DePalma were awarded CIHR/CAG postdocotral fellowships, Fiona Whelan was awarded two prestigious scholarships from CIHR and Cystic Fibrosis Canada and Justin McCarville was honoured by the Canadian Celiac Association. Read full details on trainee awards.

Alberto Fernandez receives an EBMO Fellowship

Congratulations to Alberto Caminero who was awarded a fellowship by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) to visit Dr. Elena Verdu's lab to work on the gluten metabolic activity of bacteria isolated from the human small intestine.

Dr. Stephen Collins has been appointed as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada

Congratulations to Stephen Collins on being elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. This was awarded in recognition for the work he has done in advancing GI research in improving our understanding of functional and inflammatory bowel disease. Well deserved Steve!

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