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Community Outreach


The Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute (FDHRI) is committed to supporting the next generation of scientists and has actively participated in BASEF for the last decade. BASEF is a regional fair for young students to explore their interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and gain recognition for their efforts. Farncombe Institute faculty members Dr. Elena Verdu, Dr. Jan Huizinga, Dr. Mike Surette and Dr. Alberto Caminero have participated as special judges and adjudicators of Farncombe Institute Student Awards.

In 2023 BASEF returned to an in-person event format for the first time since the 2019 COVID-19 pandemic and took place at Mohawk Collage in Hamilton where Merit and Special award winners were announced from the 222 projects presented at the event. Our Institute awards cash prizes and interviews with potential for an internship at our Institute to the best 3 projects that explore digestive health, related disease, general nutrition, or the human microbiome in health or disease through experimentation or in-depth literature review. The judging was completed this year by Dr. Caminero along with a team of Farncombe graduate students:  Amber Hann, Mark Wulczynski, and Liam Rondeau.

Congratulations to The Farncombe Institute BASEF 2023 winners!

1st Place: Isra Bashir, grade 12, Westdale Secondary School for the design of novel integrated glucose and ketone test strip prototype that could simultaneously provide patients with an accurate reading of their current glucose and ketone concentrations.

2nd Place: Anthony Efthimiadis, grade 7-8, W. H. Morden Public School; 7-8 level for an artificial intelligence convolutional neural network for accurate detection of basal cell carcinoma.

3rd Place: Jeena Chhinzer, grade 7-8, Dr. David R Williams Public School; for finding the “dirtiest” locations in her school using microbiology culture techniques to identify which surfaces have the most bacteria.

Gutsy Walk

Trainees and faculty join together in social events aimed at raising money for charities. An example is the Gutsy Walk in support of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Over 300,000 Canadians are living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a debilitating group of diseases for which there is no cure. The Gutsy Walk is an annual fundraiser put on by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. The McMaster GI community has been participating in the Gutsy Walk for over 10 years! Our team, the McMaster GUT-in-ARMs, is led by co-captains Heather Galipeau and Alberto Caminero and includes students, faculty, clinicians, and staff within the McMaster GI community. Fundraising events, like bake sales, raffles, YOGA, and poker nights, are held throughout the year to support the team and the Gutsy Walk in their effort to support Canadians living with IBD. Every dollar raised through the Gutsy Walk helps Crohn’s and Colitis Canada in their efforts to:

  • Raise awareness of the diseases
  • Provide support for patients and their families
  • Advocate to governments and stakeholders on behalf of those affected by Crohn’s and colitis
  • Fuel research that will lead to more effective treatments, and ultimately, the cures

Local High Schools

In 2018, the Institute held its first international Symposium co-hosted by the Canada Gairdner Foundation in which a distinguished panel of international speakers spoke about their work on the microbiome. The Institute invited 60 science students from the Peel Education District to attend, hoping to galvanize their interests in a scientific career.