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Student excellence in research at the Medical Sciences Research Day


Graduate research excellence was on display at the Medical Sciences Research Day 2017. Of the research presented, two Farncombe graduate students were recognized for the high calibre of their work. Elizabeth Perez, a Masters student in the Collins/Bercik lab,247-farncombe-2015 won a first place prize for her oral presentation entitled: “Gnotobiotic mice colonized with GAD microbiota display anxiety-like behaviour, innate immune activation, and altered BDNF expression”. Luna ElDakiky, a Masters student in the Stearns lab, IMG_7205 EDITwon second place for her poster presentation on “Development of a Targeted Bacterial Culture Strategy to Study the Impact of Solid Food Introduction on Development of the Infant Gut Microbiome”. Congratulations to both of them.

Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute and Social Media

The Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute would like to reach extended audiences through social media in order to educate, inform and inspire. We want to reach not only the scientific community but all publics with trusted content on healthy gastrointestinal development and diseases, the interaction with diet, the environment, the microbiota and psychology.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to name a few of the very popular social media active platforms, are constantly creating a space of collaboration between peers and in higher educational fields (EdTechReview, read more). These platforms are not limited to personal experiences, they have been the motor to propel social change and has changed the way information is manipulated.

To continue with our labour we invite you all to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google +, and to collaborate with us by mentioning us in your posts or posting directly to our Facebook page.


2016 Gold medal project done in the Surette lab

The Surette lab is beaming after hearing that Maggie Williams, a grade 11 student from Ancaster high school, won a Gold Medal at this year’s Bay Area Science and Education Fair. Maggie has spent the last 4 months working in the Surette lab on her project entitled The Role of Fabric in the Prevention of Nosocomial Illness: Environmentally-Friendly Solutions. As part of her project, Maggie exposed various types of bacteria, including E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus, to different types of fabrics to see which were best able to prevent their growth. According to her research, fabrics made from natural fibres touted to have antibacterial activity did not prevent bacterial survival; however, silver and copper impregnated fabric did kill these bacteria.  Hospital garments made of antibacterial fabric could reduce nosocomial transmission of pathogens.

Read more here

Multiple 2016 prizes won for a project done in the Huizinga Lab

At BASEF 2016, the Bay Area High School Science fair, grade 11 student Ruihan Wei, working with Jan Huizinga and Sean Parsons won big with “Properties of the Intestinal Pacemaker Network revealed by Mathematical Modeling”. The project received the Best Biology Project award, the Mu Alpha Theta award for most creative mathematics project, the Mohawk Mathematics award and the BASEF Gold Medal award. Congratulation Ruihan!



Dr. Sloboda’s team awarded a $1.5 million grant

The Healthy bugs for healthy babies DOHaD team, integrated by Dr. Sloboda (PI) and the co-apps: Atkinson, Barker, Bowdish, Braun, McConnell, McDonald, Moffat, Murray-Davis, Ratcliffe, Schertzer, Steegers-Theunissen, and Surette was awarded a 5 year funding of $1.5 million by CIHR.

Maternal obesity and/or excess gestational weight gain are primary risk factors for childhood obesity and metabolic compromise, perpetuating a feed forward cycle of chronic disease risk for future generations. In this program we ask, how is it that exposure to an obesogenic environment in utero gives rise to children that are destined to become obese and what are the signalling pathways? Excess adipose is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation, which has been implicated in many chronic diseases such as diabetes. It is also associated with significant changes in gut health; where changes in the composition of intestinal bacterial communities are associated with inflammation in metabolic tissues. We hypothesise that similarly, during pregnancy, excess adiposity changes the bacterial populations in a mothers gut and that these changes could cause placental inflammation modifying placental and/or fetal development, predisposing offspring to obesity and chronic disease.

In this integrative multidisciplinary program we will evaluate basic biological pathways that regulate gut health and immunity in pregnancy, and whether these pathways are impaired in pregnancies characterized by excess adiposity. We will use both animal models to understand molecular mechanisms and human studies to investigate relationships between adiposity, pregnancy weight gain and the maternal gut bacteria to uncover novel pathways that mediate the early origins of childhood obesity. We will take our data, and translate it into an informative community-based, fully-developed, intervention program to support diet and lifestyle improvement in women before and during pregnancy, with a special focus on high risk populations.

IMAGINE-SPOR Chronic Disease Network led by Dr. Moayyedi awarded $12.5 million

The IMAGINE Network, which stands for Inflammation, Microbiome, and Alimentation: Gastro-Intestinal and Neuropsychiatric Effects, is led by Dr. Paul Moayyedi, professor of medicine and clinical research lead of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.  IMAGINE will be developing innovative therapies and novel probiotics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Funding is from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) under Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). With 17 centres across Canada and 75 team members, this SPOR network will be a patient-centred investigation that engages patients as partners, focusing on patient-identified priorities to improve their health outcome, identify new treatments, and deliver a more effective health care system to Canadians.

See the official press release here


Farncombe Institute at CDDW 2016

Farncombe faculty and trainees will be highlighting their work at Canadian Digestive Diseases Week (CDDW), the annual scientific conference of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) in Montreal from February 23 – 26th. See below for details of the talks and session involving Farncombe members. 


  • Alberto Caminero Fernandez: Small intestinal bacteria determine gluten metabolism and immunogenicity
  • Premysl Bercik: What do I do with my degree and training: Work-life balance as a PI
  • Paul Moayyedi: Microbiota Directed Therapies for IBD: Focus on transplantation
  • Grigorios Leontiadis: Long-term Risks of Proton Pump Inhibitors: What should I tell my patient?
  • Jan Huizinga: 1. Mechanisms Underlying Colonic Motility. 2. Small Group Session on Colonic Motility
  • David Armstrong: 1. Small Group CDHF Session: Protecting the Human Gut Microbiota to Enhance Health. 2. Small Group Session on Unusual Causes of Abdominal Pain 
  • Jennifer Stearns: Small Group Session on Bioinformatics and the Microbiome
  • John Marshall: Should We Still Be Using Steroids and Immunosuppressants to Treat IBD?

Poster of Distinction

E. Denou  , J. Ghia , H. Wang , J. Kim , M. Shajib , M. Shah , M. Surett , S. Collins  & W. Khan “THE SEROTONERGIC ENDOCRINE- GUT MICROBIOTA AXIS IN EXPERIMENTAL COLITIS.”

CAG SYMPOSIUM – 2015 Papers That Influenced Your Practice

John Marshall – Vande Casteele N, Ferrante M, Van Assche G, et al. Trough concentrations of infliximab guide dosing for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology 2015;148(7):1320-9.

John Marshall – Khanna R, Bressler B, Levesque BG, et al. Early combined immunosuppression for the management of Crohn’s disease (REACT): A cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2015 Sep 2. pii: S0140-6736(15)00068-9.

Farncombe Trainee Awards

Thanks to a generous donation by the Farncombe family we will be offering two new trainee awards that will support excellence in digestive health research and clinical applications. These awards will be available each year until 2021. See below for eligibility and instructions for applying.

The Farncombe Studentships

Farncombe Studentships will be awarded once a year to support those seeking research training at the graduate student level (MSc or PhD students), non clinical post-doctoral fellows and clinicians seeking experience in laboratory or clinical research in areas relevant to the Institute.

The Farncombe Clinical Scholar Award

The Farncombe Clinical Scholar Award will be awarded once a year to support trainees involved in research that links Farncombe pre-clinical research with patients here at the Farncombe Institute. Clinical scholars not currently training within the Farncombe Institute are eligible to apply.

Application Form

Award Application
Give a brief description of your qualifications, why you should receive this award and how it will benefit you (maximum 500 words)


Pat Schenck awarded the Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement

Christmas Fundraising 2015

The McMaster Student Outreach and the Farncombe Social Committee want to say THANK YOU to everyone that helped raise enough goods to fill 20 gift bags to overflowing with personal care products, mittens, hats, gift cards, food and toys!

And a special THANK YOU to all of those that participated in December’s holiday bake sale. The proceeds were used to purchase gift cards for the gift bags and to help kickstart fundraising for the 2016 Crohn’s and Colitis Gutsy Walk.

Thanks again from your social committee!

Updates by the McMaster Student Outreach can be found on Facebook