Archive for category: News & Announcements

Congratulations to Jennifer Jury for 40 Years of Service

On June 21, 2019, Jennifer Jury was among 387 employees recognized at an event that marked milestone years of service to McMaster University.

With 40 years of service, Jennifer Jury is the most senior research assistant in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute (2008), previously the Intestinal Diseases Research Program (IDRP, 1986), and the Smooth Muscle Program (1979). She is the manager of the Lab, supports the activities of core research facilities in McMaster University such as the Axenic-Gnotobiotic Unit (AGU), and is an active organizer of fundraising events on behalf of patient’s associations. Her long-term dedication to service, professional ethics and personal qualities has made a difference to many people at McMaster and in our community.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your talent, attitude, friendship and commitment!

Honorary Degree Conferred to Dr. Fergus Shanahan of UCC

On May 23, 2019, Dr. Fergus Shanahan, Professor of Medicine at University College Cork Ireland, and Director of the Alimentary Pharmacology Institute was awarded an honorary degree by McMaster University at the Faculty of Health Sciences Spring Convocation. Professor Shanahan is a leading expert on the intestinal microbiome and in its exploitation for therapeutic gain.  He is also well-recognized for his interest in the use of art to portray the experience of medical illness.  He was introduced to research during his two-year postgraduate training at McMaster in the early 1980’s. Professor Shanahan has been a frequent visitor to the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster and is a member of its Scientific Advisory Board.

Farncombe Institute Researchers Win SSCD Investigator Award

Congratulations Drs. Premysl Bercik and Maria Ines Pinto Sanchez on receiving the Society for the Study of Celiac Disease Investigator Award.  This award was made possible with the support of the Nestle Research Center. The Award is intended to support a research project on a basic, translational, or clinical topic related to the investigation of NCG/WS pathophysiology, distinct clinical characteristics, implications of gut microbiota, epithelial barrier and/or innate immunity.


Farncombe Researchers Honoured at CAG Annual Awards Ceremony

April 1, 2019 – Dr. Elena Verdu was presented with the Canadian Association of Gastroenterologists’ Educational Excellence Award at the CAG Annual Awards Ceremony in Banff, Alberta, on Sunday, March 3.  This award recognizes a member of the CAG who is a health professional and has made an outstanding contribution to education on a national or international basis.

Dr. David Armstrong was also honoured that evening.  He received the CAG 2019 Excellence in Quality Innovations Award, which is presented to a CAG member who has made outstanding contributions through innovations that improve the quality and/or delivery of gastroenterology care in Canada.

Congratulations Dr. Verdu and Dr. Armstrong!

Dr. Moayyedi named Assistant Dean, Research, Faculty of Health Sciences

Dr. Moayyedi named Assistant Dean, Research, Faculty of Health Sciences

The Faculty of Health Sciences has announced the appointment of Dr. Paul Moayyedi as the assistant dean, research, for the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University, effective as of July 1, 2018.

As assistant dean, research, he will be primarily responsible for the operational management of selected biomedical and clinical research facilities, as well as for facilitating clinical investigations, in the Faculty.

Dr. Moayyedi is a professor of the Department of Medicine and currently holds the Audrey Campbell Chair of Ulcerative Colitis Research.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Moayyedi on this appointment.

Dr. Alberto Caminero awarded the prestigious Basmajian Award for Excellence in Post-Doctoral Research Work

Dr. Alberto Caminero awarded the prestigious Basmajian Award for Excellence in Post-Doctoral Research Work

We are honoured to congratulate Dr. Alberto Caminero, Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Verdu lab, on being awarded the prestigious Basmajian Award for Excellence in Post-Doctoral Research Work. Dr. Caminero’s field of research focusses on bacterial metabolism of immunogenic dietary proteins, and how this activity contributes to the pathogenesis of chronic intestinal conditions. His work on wheat protein metabolism by commensal bacteria and opportunistic pathogens has been published in Gastroenterology. Other exciting work from his PDF is currently under second revision in Nature Communications.

The Basmajian Award for Excellence in Post-Doctoral Research Work was established to honour the the late Dr. John Basmajian. Dr Basmajian was an internationally renowned professor of medicine at McMaster University, recognized for his work in the development of rehabilitation science and in the mentorship of scientists. This annual award celebrates post-doctoral fellows at McMaster who have made meritorious contributions in research during their training.

Congratulations Dr. Caminero!

Microbial signals may predispose to pre-leukaemic changes

According to a new study in Nature by Meisel and Hinterleitner et al, signals from the gut microbiota may help induce a pre-leukemic state in individuals with genetic predisposition. Mutations, or deficiency in the gene tet methylcytosine dioxygenase 2 (TET2), occur with advancing age and are often present in patients with leukemia. However, only a proportion of individuals with this mutation, or mice that lack TET2, progress to a pre-leukemic state, suggesting that additional environmental factors are needed to drive disease. Using mice that lack the TET2 gene, researchers at the University of Chicago show that increased small intestinal permeability was present in mice that developed pre-leukemic changes. This “leaky gut” allowed the translocation of microbes, normally residing happily in the lumen of the small intestine, to tissues beyond the gut. Increased IL-6, a molecule that promotes inflammation and that is released following systemic bacterial dissemination, was critical for the development of the pre-leukemic state in TET2 deficient mice. However, antibiotic treatment aborted the pre-leukemic changes.Interestingly, once the TET2 deficient mice were derived and bred in germ-free conditions at the Axenic Gnotobiotic Unit in McMaster University, no changes in IL-6 were observed, and the pre-leukemic state failed to develop”, said Dr. Heather Galipeau, research associate in Dr. Verdu’s lab. “Maintaining intestinal barrier function could be critical for preventing a pre-leukemic state in genetically susceptible people, in order to restrict intestinal microbes to the gut. The study opens the way to potential new strategies aimed at strengthening the intestinal barrier or preventing systemic infections to reduce the progression to leukemia in individuals that have a genetic predisposition”, said Dr. Verdu, co-author of the study and Canada Research Chair in Diet, Microbiota and Intestinal Inflammation.

Two Farncombe members receive CIHR funding

We are happy to congratulate two amazing Farncombe researchers who were awarded 5 years of funding from CIHR in the recent announcement. Dr. Lesley MacNeil will study the role of environmental factors in neuronal aging and Dr. Waliul Khan will study  the interactions between serotonin signalling and autophagy in the context of gut inflammation. Excellent work!

Dr. Mike Surette elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology

Mike Surette has been elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology.  The Academy, the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, recognizes excellence, originality, and leadership in the microbiological sciences, and his election to this group is a mark of distinction. 

Mike studies the human microbiome in health and disease conditions such as cystic fibrosis and inflammatory bowel disease. He is an integral part of the Farncombe Institute,  actively collaborating with clinical research and directing the McMaster Metagenomic Facility.  Congratulations Dr. Surette on this honour!