Gastrointestinal research has been a strength at McMaster University for over 30 years following the establishment of the Intestinal Diseases Research Unit in 1983. The successes of that unit resulted in the establishment of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute in 2008.

The Institute maintains our longstanding philosophy of interdisciplinary research in which there is an iterative relationship between basic and clinical research. We use this integrated approach to understand how changes in the gut environment can lead to chronic diseases in the gastrointestinal system and beyond.

The Institute enjoys a close relationship with the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine, enabling a seamless transition from bench-to-bedside and vice-versa. The Institute also has strong connections with the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and the Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, that enhances our integrated multidisciplinary research philosophy.

The Institute has a strong commitment to education. It provides an innovative and nurturing environment to train the next generation of groundbreaking investigators.

The Institute Director is Dr. Stephen Collins and its Executive Board includes:

Dr. Paul Moayyedi, Director of Clinical Research and Head of the Division of Gastroenterology

Dr. Elena Verdu, Director of the Axenic-Gnotobiotic Facility

Dr. Michael Surette, Director of the Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research Laboratory

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  • Understand the causes of chronic gastrointestinal diseases that are prevalent in society, and develop new strategies for their diagnosis, treatment and prevention
  • Provide a productive and innovative training environment
  • Maintain excellence in research at an international level

There are 20 full members of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute. These members conduct their primary research within the institute's facilities. There are 13 associate members who conduct collaborative research with the institute's members. There is a strong focus on the role of the intestinal microbiota in health and disease and the Institute contains Canada's only gnotobiotic laboratory, a metagenomics platform and a microbiology laboratory specializing in the culture of human commensal bacteria. There is a clinical research centre within the Institute that conducts clinical trials, meta-analyses epidemiological studies conducted in affiliated hospitals as well as on a national and international basis. The Institute has a large complement of technical staff, graduate students and research fellows as well as administrative staff.

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