8:00 – 8:20 | Registration Check-in

8:30 | WELCOME
Patrick Deane, President, McMaster University.

Opening Remarks:
Janet Rossant, President and Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation.

– Stephen Collins, Associate Dean for Research and Director, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.
– John Dirks, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of Toronto. President and Scientific Director Emeritus, Gairdner Foundation.

8:45-9:30 | Translating Microbiome Science to the Clinic – a Perspective.
Fergus Shanahan, Director Alimentary Pharmacobiology Institute, University College, Cork.

– Jon Schertzer, Assistant Professor, Farncombe Institute and the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.
– Gregory Steinberg, Professor, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Childhood (MAC) Obesity Research Program, McMaster University.

9:30-10:10 | Deciphering the Nutrition-Microbiome-Metabolism Axis.
Eran Elinav, Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

10:10-10:50 | The Microbiome and Gluten Immunogenicity – Implications for Novel Approaches to Celiac Disease.
Elena Verdu, Director Axenic Gnotobiotic Facility, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.

10:50-11:10 | BREAK

– Deborah Sloboda, Associate Professor, Farncombe Institute and Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University.
– Dana Philpott, Associate Professor, Canadian Human Immunology Network, University of Toronto.

11:10-11:50 | Maternal Programming of the Immune System and Susceptibility to Chronic Inflammatory Disease.
Andrew Macpherson, Director, Mucosal Immunology Laboratories, University of Bern, Switzerland.

11:50-12:30 | The Microbiome and Healthy Aging; a Friend or a Foe?
Sven Pettersson, Professor, Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

12:30-13:30 | LUNCH

– Wali Khan, Professor, Farncombe Institute, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University.
– Ken Croitoru, Director GEM Project, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto.


The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis: Implication for Understanding Functional Intestinal and CNS Disorders.
Associate Professor, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.

PREMYSL BERCIK graduated as MD from Charles University, Prague, Czechoslovakia. He obtained a fellowship from the Swiss National Foundation to work with Professors Pavel Kucera and Andre Blum at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, where he studied myogenic and neural control of gastrointestinal motility as a theme of his doctoral thesis. After clinical residency training in Charles University and the Central Military hospital in Prague, he worked as postdoctoral research and clinical fellow at McMaster University with Professor Stephen Collins focusing on animal models of functional gastrointestinal diseases and the role of low grade inflammation on gut function. Currently, he is Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, and director of Clinical Motility Laboratory and Celiac Clinic at McMaster University. His basic and clinical research, funded by CIHR and NIH, investigates the role of intestinal bacteria in gut-brain axis signalling, and its pathogenic importance in functional gastrointestinal diseases and gluten-related disorders. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers, with current h-index of 33.

The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis: Implication for Understanding Functional Intestinal and CNS Disorders.

Accumulating evidence suggests that gut microbiota plays an important role in many chronic gastrointestinal diseases, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as well as in their psychiatric co-morbidities. While clinical studies provide evidence that patients with IBS have different microbiota composition and metabolomic profiles compared to healthy controls, causal evidence is lacking. Gnotobiotic mouse models provide an ideal tool to investigate the effects of human intestinal microbiota on the immune system, gut function as well as behaviour and brain chemistry. Our recent data demonstrates that clinical features found in patients with IBS, or primary psychiatric disorders, can be transferred into gnotobiotic mice by colonization with patient microbiota. The results of these studies, and their implications, will be discussed in this presentation.

The Role of the Microbiota in Asthma.
Director, The Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia.

BRETT FINLAY is a Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories, and the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of British Columbia.  He obtained a B.Sc. (Honors) in Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, where he also did his Ph.D. (1986) in Biochemistry under Dr. William Paranchych, studying F-like plasmid conjugation. His post-doctoral studies were performed with Dr. Stanley Falkow at the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he studied Salmonella invasion into host cells.  In 1989, he joined UBC as an Assistant Professor in the Biotechnology Laboratory.  Dr. Finlay’s research interests are focussed on host-microbe interactions, at the molecular level.  By combining cell biology with microbiology, he has been at the forefront of the field called Cellular Microbiology, making several fundamental discoveries in this area, and publishing over 460 papers (h index=110).  His laboratory studies several pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella and pathogenic E. coli, and more recently microbiota.  He is well recognized internationally for his work, and has won several prestigious awards including the E.W.R. Steacie Prize, the CSM Fisher Scientific Award, CSM Roche Award, a MRC Scientist, five Howard Hughes International Research Scholar Awards, a CIHR Distinguished Investigator, BC Biotech Innovation Award, the Michael Smith Health Research Prize, the IDSA Squibb award, the Jacob Biely Prize, the prestigious Canadian Killam Health Sciences Prize, the Flavelle Medal of the Royal Society, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Prix Galien, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, is a Member of the German National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Microbiology, Chair d’État, Collège de France and is the UBC Peter Wall Distinguished Professor.  He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and Order of British Columbia. He is a cofounder of Inimex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Microbiome Insights, scientific cofounder of Vedanta Pharmaceuticals and CommenSe, Director of the SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative, and Founding Director and Senior Fellow of CIFAR’s Microbes and Humans.  He is also the co-author of the book Let Them Eat Dirt.

The gut-lung axis. The Role of the Microbiota in Asthma.

Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs whose incidence is increasing rapidly, making it a major problem worldwide.  Although the exact cause is not known, environmental conditions such as the use of antibiotics, mode of delivery, etc. impact on asthma.  Using an experimental murine asthma system, we demonstrated that shifts in microbiota triggered by antibiotics affected asthma outcome.  We were able to show that this shift needs to occur very early in life, and that certain microbes are associated with it.  We also found that intestinal Treg cells were affected, but not lung Tregs.  Using a clinical cohort of children (CHILD) we analyzed feces from 3 month old and one year old children.  Remarkably, we found that certain microbiota species from the 3 month old population were associated with protection from asthma.  Additionally, there were significant metabolic changes mediated by microbiota in those at risk for asthma.  By transplanting these particular microbiota, along we feces from an asthmatic child, we found that these microbiota decreased lung inflammation in the murine asthma model. We have also studied a cohort of children from rural Ecuador.  Similar to what we had previously found in Canadian babies, at risk Ecuadorian babies also exhibit gut microbial dysbiosis very early in life. However, the microbial alterations between healthy and at risk children were different and more pronounced in Ecuadorian babies. Predicted metagenomic analysis showed significant differences in genes involved in carbohydrate and taurine metabolism.  Collectively, we have found that microbiota play a profound impact on the host very early in life, which has later effects in asthma susceptibility.

Mining the Secondary Metabolomes for Novel Therapeutic Agents.
Associated Professor, Canada Research Chair in Chemical Biology and Natural Products , Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University.

NATHAN MAGARVEY, PhD, is currently Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Natural Products and Chemical Biology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences & Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University.

Dr. Magarvey obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at Dalhousie University and his PhD in Microbiology and Chemical Biology at the University of Minnesota studying biosynthetic reactions leading to secondary metabolites. Post-graduate research at Harvard Medical School was on enzymatic reaction mechanisms and antibiotic biosynthesis. Prior to joining McMaster University, Magarvey had also spent time in the pharmaceutical industry working for Wyeth Research where he was directly involved in the discovery of new antibiotic and therapeutic microbial natural product small molecules. In 2008 Dr. Magarvey joined the faculty at McMaster University and is the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of a drug discovery company – Adapsyn Bioscience Inc. that is focused on the discovery of new therapeutic natural products.

Dr. Magarvey’s research focuses on disrupting how the discovery of microbial metabolites is done- and in particular how to leverage the ability to connect Genomes to Natural Products. Historically our search for antibiotics and other microbial small molecules had not started from genomic information and the tools Magarvey and coworkers have assembled have made this possible. It is particularly relevant in a wide range of new biology where a wealth of genomic data is accumulated and will be the initiation point for advanced study. With respect to the mining of microbiomes where genomic data will be plentiful – Dr. Magarvey’s team have advanced the discovery of new microbial small molecules. The interdisciplinary nature of the lab leads to research intersecting the interfaces of medicine, biology, chemistry and computer science.  Dr. Magarvey’s lab is currently supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.

Mining the Secondary Metabolomes for Novel Therapeutic Agents.

Microbial natural products possess unique bioactivities and are of significant therapeutic importance. Secondary metabolism creates small natural products that not necessary for survival of the producers – but often serve to promote chemical communication between cells. This chemical language of microbes can now be mined more efficiently using the merger of Big Data genomic and metabolomic tools. With these tools and the large microbiome genome sequencing efforts we are now able to interrogate the data to target the search of novel therapeutic agents. Approaches taken to uncover these known unknown natural products will be presented.

Bacteriophage – Tailoring the Microbiome for Therapeutic Gain.
Alimentary Pharmaco-biology Institute, University College Cork, Ireland.

PAUL ROSS graduated from UCC with a B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Microbiology, and a Ph.D. in Microbiology. Following postdoctoral research and an Assistant Professorship at Wake Forest University, NC, he moved to Teagasc’s Moorepark Food Research Centre to lead the Food Biotechnology programme, which encompasses aspects ranging from gut flora to novel antimicrobials, including bacteriocins and bacteriophage.  Until recently he was Head of Food Research at Teagasc and  Adjunct Professor at UCC. Paul is now Head of College of Science Engineering & Food Science at UCC and is a Principal Investigator in the APC’s Microbes to Molecules Research Spoke and the Food Health Ireland research centre. He was awarded a D.Sc. in 2009 based on published work and received the William C. Haines Dairy Science in 2007 and the Enterprise Ireland Commercialization award in 2008.

Bacteriophage – Tailoring the Microbiome for Therapeutic Gain.

While the human microbiome is teeming with a variety of living organisms including bacteria, archaea, protists and fungi, it also contains bacteriophages and viruses that prey on them. We have shown that gut bacterial diversity rapidly increases following birth but decreases during old age 1; however, little is known about the role of bacteriophage in modulating these changes. To redress this, we have examined the human  “virome” of both infants and elderly subjects and compared it in terms of diversity with their corresponding microbiomes. The results demonstrate major difference between the viromes at these extremes of human life and have led us to hypothesize that viral predation is a dominant feature in moulding microbiome diversity.  If correct, this would mean that viromes/phage themselves could find therapeutic application in shifting microbomes towards non-disease states or in removing undesirable/pathogenic bacteria.  As an example of the latter, we have shown that a mixture of two phage can kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the murine lung or as a biofilm on a pulmonary cell line suggesting that phage are a viable antimicrobial therapy for treatment of pulmonary infections such as in cystic fibrosis.

Translating Microbiome Science to the Clinic – a Perspective.
Director Alimentary Pharmacobiology Institute, University College, Cork.

FERGUS SHANAHAN is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at University College Cork (UCC), National University of Ireland.  Born and educated in Dublin, he attended medical school at University College Dublin where he graduated with honours in 1977.  After internship and residency in internal medicine in Dublin, he did a two-year fellowship in clinical immunology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, followed by a two-year fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  After completion of his fellowship at UCLA, he was appointed to the faculty there, rising to the rank of Associate Professor before making the decision, in 1993, to return to his native Ireland.
Together with colleagues from several departments and different faculties within University College Cork and Teagasc (a research agency of the Irish Ministry of Food and Agriculture), Dr. Shanahan led a team of clinicians, clinician-scientists, and basic scientists to successfully compete for seed funding from Science Foundation Ireland to create a multi-disciplinary research center, the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, which investigates host-microbe interactions in the gut in health and disease.  Under Dr. Shanahan’s directorship, the center now has a membership of 168 staff, scientists, and students and has expanded its funding and research base by securing research alliances with indigenous and multinational companies within the food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Dr. Shanahan has published more than 450 scientific papers and several on the medical humanities and has co-edited several books.  He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, Canada, and the United Kingdom as well as of the American College of Physicians.  He served as President of the Irish Society of Gastroenterology from 2007-2009.  He was recently named to the “Irish Life Science 50” a list of the top 50 Irish and Irish Americans in the life science industry. In 2013, Science Foundation Ireland named him as its Researcher of the Year.
His interests are in mucosal immunology, gut microbiota, inflammatory bowel disease, and most things that affect the human experience.

Translating Microbiome Science to the Clinic – a Perspective.

Microbiome science has already delivered several advances that have been successfully translated to clinical medicine. Arguably, the most therapeutically significant discovery was before the molecular era of microbiology – the association of Helicobacter pylori with peptic ulcer disease, gastric cancer and gastric lymphoma.  Other advances range from the modification of the microbiota with fecal transplantation to the selective harnessing or inhibition of microbial enzymes for therapeutic modification of prescribed drugs. Microbial compositional changes also offer the real prospect of new biomarkers of the risk of diseases such as colorectal cancer. Such biomarkers also provide a potential means of altering disease risk long before the disease process becomes established.  However, the most striking examples of translational microbiome science may arise from exploration of the microbiota as a repository of natural agents for deployment as new drugs.  Examples of successful mining of ‘bugs to drugs’ include the discovery of new smart antibiotics such as thuricin for treatment of C. difficile-associated disease, immunomodulatory bacterial components for inflammatory disorders and microbial-derived cytoprotective peptides that may promote healing in mucositis and other chronic diseases. Proof of principle has already been established for several new chemical entities mined from the human microbiota and three examples in various stages of development will be addressed to provide perspective and to illustrate the promise and the pitfalls of this pursuit.

The Microbiome and Gluten Immunogenicity – Implications for Novel Approaches to Celiac Disease.
Director Axenic Gnotobiotic Facility, Canada Research Chair, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.

ELENA VERDU studied medicine at the University of Buenos Aires where she lectured on Human Physiology. She obtained a fellowship from the Swiss National Foundation, to work with Professor Andre Blum at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, on the interaction between inhibition of gastric acid secretion, Helicobacter pylori infection, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and chronic gastritis in humans. During her PhD studies in the Department of Gnotobiology and Microbiology at the Czech Academy of Science (working with Professor Helena Tlaskalova), she gained experience in animal models of inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal microbiota. As a post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University with Professor Stephen Collins, she worked on the role of probiotics in animal models of gut functional diseases. Dr. Verdu is currently a Canada Research Chair and associate professor and the Farncombe Institute at McMaster University. Her research focuses on the pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders. She investigates host-microbial and dietary interactions in the gastrointestinal tract as it relates to the pathogenesis of celiac disease and IBD.

The Microbiome and Gluten Immunogenicity – Implications for Novel Approaches to Celiac Disease.

Partially-degraded gluten peptides from cereals trigger celiac disease, a common autoimmune enteropathy occurring in genetically susceptible persons. Susceptibility genes are necessary but not sufficient to induce autoimmunity. This, together with the recent increasing prevalence of celiac disease, has led to the proposal that additional environmental factors play a role in its pathogenesis. Clinical studies have demonstrated alterations in the duodenal microbiota of celiac patients compared with healthy controls, and animal studies have determined that gluten immunopathology is modulated by commensal colonization. Similarly to other autoimmune disorders, these associations raised the hypothesis that microbial factors modulate celiac risk in genetically predisposed people. However, the potential underlying mechanisms remain unknown. We undertook a translational and reductionist approach to investigate gluten metabolism by opportunistic pathogens and commensal bacteria isolated from duodenum of subjects with and without celiac disease. We characterized the capacity of the produced peptides to activate gluten-specific T-cells from celiac patients. Bacterial colonizations of germ-free mice produced distinct gluten degradation patterns in the mouse small intestine. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Psa), an opportunistic pathogen from celiac patients, exhibited elastase activity and produced peptides that better translocated the mouse intestinal barrier. Psa-modified gluten peptides activated gluten-specific T-cells from CeD patients. In contrast, Lactobacillus spp. from the duodenum of non-CeD controls degraded gluten peptides produced by human and Psa proteases, reducing their immunogenicity. Thus, small intestinal bacteria exhibit distinct gluten metabolic patterns in vivo, increasing or reducing gluten peptide immunogenicity. This microbe-gluten-host interaction may modulate autoimmune risk in genetically susceptible persons and may underlie the reported association of dysbiosis and celiac disease.

13:30-14:10 | Managing Infections in the Future: The role of the Intestinal Microbiota in Antimicrobial Resistance.
Gerry Wright, Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University.

14:10-14:50 | The Role of the Microbiota in Asthma.
Brett Finlay, Director, The Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia.

14:50-15:30 | The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis: Implication for Understanding Functional Intestinal and CNS Disorders.
Premsyl Bercik, Associate Professor, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.

15:30-16:00 | BREAK

Chairs Session A:
-Paul Moayyedi, Professor, Head of Gastroenterology and Director of Clinical Research, Farncombe Institute.
– Jonathon Bramson, Canada Research Chair in Translational Cancer Immunology, McMaster University.

16:00-16:40 | Optimizing Anti-Cancer Immunotherapy Via the Microbiota.
Bertrand Routy, Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale, Institut Grustave Roussy, France.

16:40-17:20 | Bacteriophage – Tailoring the Microbiome for Therapeutic Gain.
Paul Ross, Alimentary Pharmacobiology Institute, University College Cork, Ireland.

Chairs Session B:
– Stephen Vanner, Professor and Director, Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Unit, Queens University.
– Karen Maxwell, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto.

17:20-17:40 | Culturing the Uncultivable.
Michael Surette, Professor, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.

17:40-18:00 | Mining the Secondary Metabolomes for Novel Therapeutic Agents.
Nathan Magarvey, Assistant Professor, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, McMaster University.

18:00 | WRAP UP
Stephen Collins and Janet Rossant

Deciphering the Nutrition-Microbiome-Metabolism Axis.
Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

ERAN ELINAV heads a research group at the Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science. His lab focuses on deciphering the molecular basis of host-microbiome interactions and their effects on health and disease, with a goal of personalizing medicine and nutrition. Dr. Elinav completed his medical doctor’s (MD) degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Hadassah Medical Center summa cum laude,followed by a clinical internship, residency in internal medicine, and a clinical and research position at the Tel Aviv Medical Center Gastroenterology institute. He received a PhD in immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Elinav has published more than 90 publications in leading pear-reviewed journals, including major recent discoveries related to the effects of host genetics, innate immune function and environmental factors, such as dietary composition and timing, on the intestinal microbiome and its propensity to drive multi-factorial disease. His honors include multiple awards for academic excellence including the Claire and Emmanuel G. Rosenblatt award from the American Physicians for Medicine (2011), the Alon Foundation award (2012), the Rappaport prize for biomedical research (2015), the Lindner award (2016) and the Levinson award for basic science research (2016). Since 2016 he is a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR).

Deciphering the Nutrition-Microbiome-Metabolism Axis.

The Elinav lab studies the microbiome, the immense microbial ecosystem that resides within the mammalian intestine and in other mucosal surfaces. This microbial community is dominated by Bacteria but also includes Archaea, Eukarya, and viruses. The Elinav group aims to decode how the vast microbiome repertoire functions in ways that benefit the host. The gut microbiota is shaped and regulated by multiple factors including our genomic composition, the local intestinal niche and multiple environmental factors including our nutritional repertoire and bio-geographical location. The mucosal immune system, as one such example, co-evolves with the microbiota from birth, and intimately interacts with it through multiple mechanisms that remain elusive to date. Importantly, it has been recently highlighted that dysregulation of a number of genetic or environmental factors leads to aberrant host-microbiome interactions, ultimately predisposing to diseases ranging from chronic inflammation, obesity, the metabolic syndrome and even cancer. The Elinav lab has identified various important mechanisms participating in the reciprocal regulation between the host and the intestinal microbiome, and demonstrated that disruption of these factors, in mice and humans, lead to dysbiosis and susceptibility to common multi-factorial disease. Understanding the molecular basis of host-microbiome interactions may lead to development of new microbiome-targeting treatments.

Maternal Programming of the Immune System and Susceptibility to Chronic Inflammatory Disease.
Director, Mucosal Immunology Laboratories, University of Bern, Switzerland.

ANDREW J. MACPHERSON is Professor of Medicine and Director of Gastroenterology at the University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland. He studied Biochemistry and Medicine at Cambridge University and did his PhD on sugar-proton symport systems in the laboratory of Sir Hans Kornberg and Peter Henderson. His clinical medical studies and clinical speciality training in Gastroenterology were in Cambridge and London. The results (of control experiments) during a project in London on immune-mediated damage to intestinal epithelial cells focused his interest on the way in which the mucosal immune system responds to commensal intestinal microbes. In 1997 he moved to work with Rolf Zinkernagel at the Institute of Experimental Immunology in Zürich. Between 2004 and 2008 he was Farncombe Professor of Medicine and a Canada Research Chair holder at McMaster University in Hamilton.His work has shown that there are different pathways of induction of immunoglobulin (Ig)A in the intestinal mucosa by commensal intestinal microbes, with and without help from T cells. He has also shown a compartmentalization between the mucosal and systemic Ig responses to commensals, since mucosal immune responses are driven locally in the mucosal compartment by dendritic cells that have sampled commensals at the epithelial surface. More recently his lab has developed methods of reversible colonization of germ-free mice to allow intestinal colonization with commensals and mucosal immune priming to be experimentally uncoupled, to address mucosal immune memory and the functional consequences of mucosal immune responses in host-microbial mutualism.

Maternal Programming of the Immune System and Susceptibility to Chronic Inflammatory Disease.

Postnatal colonization of the body with microbes is assumed to be the main stimulus to postnatal immune development. By transiently colonizing pregnant female mice, we show that the maternal microbiota shapes the immune system of the offspring. Gestational colonization increases intestinal group 3 innate lymphoid cells and F4/80(+)CD11c(+) mononuclear cells in the pups. Maternal colonization reprograms intestinal transcriptional profiles of the offspring, including increased expression of genes encoding epithelial antibacterial peptides and metabolism of microbial molecules. Some of these effects are dependent on maternal antibodies that potentially retain microbial molecules and transmit them to the offspring during pregnancy and in milk. Pups born to mothers transiently colonized in pregnancy are better able to avoid inflammatory responses to microbial molecules and penetration of intestinal microbes.

The Microbiome and Healthy Aging; a Friend or a Foe?
Professor, Karolinska Institute, Sweden.

SVEN PETTERSSON is a Professor of Metabolic Disease in Lee Kong Chain School of Medicine, NTU and Professor at Karolinska Institutet (KI). He received his PhD (immunology) and MD from Umeå University in Sweden in 1985 & 1986 respectively. He was postdoc at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, MRC, in Cambridge, UK (1987-1990) having Professor Michael Neuberger, FRS as mentor. In 1991 he was recruited to KI and in 1996 he initiated research related more towards innate immunity and microbe-host interactions in the alimentary tract. In 2000 he was appointed as Full professor at KI in the field of host-microbe interactions. His research aims to understand how the gut microbiome influence host physiology and organ function with a strong interest on energy homeostasis and behavior. His work on immunity and microbe – host interactions has been highly recognized and for this work he has received several prices and awards. He has published some 150 articles in top ranked journals, book chapters and editorials. Since 2015 he is also a senior investigator of CIFAR- Canadian Institute of Advanced Research.

The Microbiome and Healthy Aging; a Friend or a Foe?

The postnatal vertical transmission of microbes from the female to the offspring, at birth, enables the expanding incoming microbes to connect to host communication systems which will begin to impact on physiological pathways including muscle growth, energy homeostasis and behaviour of the growing host. The host, in turn, will reciprocate by launching a myriad of host signals to modulate the expanding microbiome. This bilateral cross talk is presumed to be fully established around adolescence, by the formation of an adult microbiome that together with its host forms a symbiotic relationship. Diet, locomotion, behavior and immunity are among the factors that will regulate this symbiosis throughout life. In my lecture, I will discuss this microbiome-host symbiosis in regard the life cycle of the host by presenting data of a microbiome – muscle axis which regulate muscle mass and thus energy homeostasis. Some unexpected and surprising effects that is mediated by the microbiome of an aged mouse (two years old), relevant for host metabolic organ and neurogenesis will also be presented. 

Optimizing Anti-Cancer Immunotherapy Via the Microbiota.
Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale, Institut Gustave Roussy, France.

BERTRAND ROUTY obtained his medical degree from University of Montreal, and graduated from the McGill University Internal medicine program in 2012. Subsequently, he completed his hematology fellowship at Princess Margaret Hospital, University of Toronto in 2014. During his fellowship, he developed a strong interest for cancer immunology and he joined the team of Dr. Armand Keating (Director, Cell Therapy Program at Princess Margaret Hospital), who encouraged him to pursue a career in immunology and translational research.
Currently a PhD student in the laboratory of Pr. Laurence Zitvogel, Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale U1015, at Institut Gustave Roussy, the largest cancer center in Europe located in Paris-Villejuif. His dedication to the emerging field of microbiota and immuno-oncology has led him to obtain the Gustave Roussy Philanthropia MD/PhD course of excellence and the Townsend Hematology McGill research fellowship scholarships.
He has actively being involved in the development of an ‘avatar’ mouse model to demonstrate that specific mucosal dysbiosis could dictate sensitivity or resistance to chemotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICB) targeting CTLA-4 and PD-1. His PhD objective is to demonstrate the immunomodulatory role of the gut microbiota in lung and renal cell cancer patients treated with ICB.
Ultimately, his ambition is to develop new diagnosis tools, based on metagenomic signature of cancer patients’ feces, for the prediction of response to ICB and preventing immune toxicities.

Optimizing Anti-Cancer Immunotherapy Via the Microbiota.

Inhibition of immune regulatory checkpoints, such as CTLA-4 and PD-1/PDL-1 is at the forefront of cancer treatment. The limits of these monoclonal antibodies (mAb) are the unpredictable efficacy and the immune related toxicities. Our team demonstrated that intestinal commensals were part of the answer; specific mucosal dysbiosis could dictate sensitivity or resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors. We worked on the first-in-class immune checkpoint blocker (ICB), anti-CTLA-4 mAb/ipilimumab, and showed the mandatory role of microbiota (Bacteroidales and Burkholderiales) in its antitumor immune effects and the prophylactic role of such commensals against subclinical colitis in mice. In parallel, another group demonstrated the importance of Bifidobacterium in maturing intratumoral dendritic cells that allow the expansion of anti-cancer T cells in the tumor beds and their activation with anti-PDL-1 mAb.

We are now developing novel diagnosis tools based on metagenomic signatures of the feces of lung and renal cell cancer patients, to predict response/resistance to ICB. Our objective is to provide adjuvant compensatory therapies based on administration of oncomicrobiotics i.e. live commensal bacteria to promote clinical responses.

Culturing the Uncultivable.
Professor, Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research, Farncombe Institute, McMaster University.

MICHAEL SURETTE, PhD, is currently Professor and Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in the Department of Medicine, and Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University.  He is the co-director of the McMaster Genomics Facility.

Dr. Surette obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at Memorial University of Newfoundland and his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario studying DNA-protein interactions in DNA transposition. His post-graduate research at Princeton University was on bacterial signal transduction and motility.  He joined the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Disease at the University of Calgary as an Assistant Professor in 1997, where he’s currently an Adjunct Professor.  Dr. Surette moved to McMaster in 2010 joining the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research.

Dr. Surette’s research addresses the human microbiome of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts in health and disease, and the development of the microbiome in throughout the life-course.  This research direction was initiated with studies in cystic fibrosis patients and led to a redefining of the nature of CF airway infections as polymicrobial, and identifying common but over looked pathogens in CF.  This research was driven by combining culture based and culture –independent methods for examining the microbiome. The lab continues to focus on developing high throughput culturing and phenotyping methods to investigate the microbiome, and applying and improving next-generation sequencing approaches to characterize the microbiome. In addition to understanding fundamental questions about microbiome composition and microbe-microbe /host interactions, the lab is interested in developing methods for accurate rapid microbial profiling that could improve management of disease and exploiting secondary metabolic products of the human microbiome.  Disease specific projects are focused on cystic fibrosis, asthma, pneumonia, sepsis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.  Dr. Surette’s lab is currently supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Foundation of Innovation.

Culturing the Uncultivable.

There is a prevailing view that much of the human microbiome (and microbial diversity in general) is not readily accessible to cultivation in the laboratory.  Many studies are challenging this dogma and we have established culture strategies that capture the diversity of the microbiota of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.  Importantly, we demonstrated that a greater diversity of microbiota is revealed by combining culture with molecular methods than by culture-independent methods alone.  Moreover, our data has allowed us to define simple conditions for targeted enrichment of specific taxa of interest.  We are combining these approaches with genomics and culture-enriched metagenomics to explore the diversity and functionality of the human microbiome.

Managing Infections in the Future: The role of the Intestinal Microbiota in Antimicrobial Resistance.
Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, Canada Research Chair in Antimicrobial Biochemistry, McMaster University.

GERRY WRIGHT is the Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University (2007-present). He is Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and Associate member of the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology as well as Pathology and Molecular Medicine.
He received his BSc in Biochemistry (1986) and his PhD in Chemistry (1990) from the University of Waterloo working in the area of antifungal drugs. He followed this up with 2 years of postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School in Boston where he worked on the molecular mechanism of resistance to the antibiotic vancomycin in enterococci. He joined the Department of Biochemistry at McMaster in 1993.
Gerry holds the Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Infection and Anti-Infective Research, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Antibiotic Biochemistry and has received Canadian Institutes of Health Research Scientist (2000-2005) and Medical Research Council of Canada Scholar (1995-2000), Killam Research Fellowship (2011-1012), Premier’s Research Excellence (1999) and Polanyi Prize (1993) awards. He was the American Society of Microbiology Division ‘A’ (Antimicrobial Chemotherapy) lecturer in 2007, received the Faculty of Science Alumni of Honor Award from the University of Waterloo (2007) and was the 2012 Hopwood Lecturer (John Innes Centre, Norwich UK). He was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada in 2012 and to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2013. He is the past director of the American Chemical Society Short Course on Antibiotics and Antibacterial Agents. Dr. Wright was Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences for 6 years (2001-2007) and the founding director of the McMaster Antimicrobial Research Centre; he is co-founder, with Dr. Eric Brown, of the McMaster High Throughput Screening Facility.
He has consulted widely in the private sector (biotech and pharma) on aspects of antibiotic resistance and discovery and antifungal agents. He has published over 180 papers and book chapters and is a member of the editorial boards of Chemistry and Biology (2000-present), The Journal of Antibiotics (2004-present), Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Antimicrobial Therapeutics Reviews (2011-present) and Antimicrobial Agents Chemotherapy (2011-2013).
Gerry’s Batman job is drummer for the “Null Hypothesis”, a pants-dropping, hard rocking, booty-shaking cover band.

Managing Infections in the Future: The role of the Intestinal Microbiota in Antimicrobial Resistance.

The gut microbiome offers a vast reservoir of bacterial genomes, their mobile elements, and associated antibiotic resistance genes. The clinical use of antibiotics can impact the diversity and density of these genes resulting in a changing genetic landscape that can impact drug function and off target effects on non-pathogenic bacteria. Efforts to explore the resistome of gut microbes will be discussed along with their potential impact on health and drug efficacy.


Tweet using the hashtag
and mention us
@FFDHRI and @GairdnerAwards


Dr. Stephen Collins
Director, Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute
Dr. Janet Rossant
President & CEO Gairdner Foundation


The David Braley Health Science Centre
100 Main Street West (corner of Main Street West and Bay Street North)
Hamilton, ON L8P 1H6


Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 10.57.41 AM

From Toronto, Oakville, Burlington
Take Highway 403 West to the Main Street East exit. This exit merges onto Main Street going east. Continue along Main Street to the intersection with Bay Street.

From St. Catharines and the Niagara Peninsula
Follow the Queen Elizabeth Way over the Skyway Bridge as though going to Toronto. Take Highway 403 West towards Hamilton. Take the Main Street East exit. This exit merges onto Main Street going east. Continue along Main Street to the intersection with Bay Street.

From Kitchener/Waterloo
Take Highway 401 East to Highway 6 South to Highway 403 West, and take the Main Street East exit. This exit merges onto Main Street going east. Continue along Main Street to the intersection with Bay Street.

From Brantford and London
From Brantford travel on Highway 403 East to the Aberdeen Street exit. Turn left at the first lights at Longwood Road and proceed to Main Street. Turn right onto Main Street and continue along Main Street to the intersection with Bay Street.

Public Parking available at:
– Impark, 55 Bay St N, Hamilton
– Hamilton Municipal Parking, 80 Summers Ln, Hamilton
– Vinci Park Services, 100 King St W, Hamilton


Amber Leedham
Tel : 905-525-9140 Ext. 21267