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Symposium Brief – The Microbiome in Human Health London


By bringing together researchers across different areas of expertise, including microbiology and anthropology, CIFAR’s Humans & The Microbiome program is producing new insights regarding how the microbes living on and inside of us shape our lives. On May 30, 2017, CIFAR hosted a roundtable at Canada House in London, England to explore recent advances in understanding the microbiome’s role in human health, development, and evolution. The goal of the roundtable was to engage in a discussion with researchers and public health experts in the UK community to explore opportunities for collaboration and research impact.

The roundtable highlighted the program’s current understanding and gaps in knowledge about how microbes affect human health, development and cultural evolution, as well as their plans to drive further research progress in these areas. Discussions with participants explored where the program’s research intersects with core issues and areas of interest of participating organizations. This report summarizes the key discussion points from that roundtable.

The roundtable was held at the High Commission of Canada in London, England and featured opening remarks by Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


Dr. Brett Finlay is a professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Finlay‘s research explores how the microbiome of humans can affect conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, and cardiovascular disease. He is also interested in treatment and prevention of infections, such as by C. difficile bacteria, and was the leader of the successful initiative to develop a SARS vaccine in 2003. He is co-director of CIFAR’s Humans & the Microbiome program and co-author of the book “Let Them Eat Dirt.”

Dr. Philippe Sansonetti is a professor and head of the Unité de Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculaire at the Pasteur Institute of Paris and chair of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the Collège de France. Dr. Sansonetti’s research investigates how bacteria influences gut homeostasis and pathology. His work investigates how unharmful bacteria affect the physiology of intestinal crypts, a critical area where stem cells achieve renewal of the epithelial tissue that lines the surfaces of blood vessels and organs. His research into pathogenic bacteria focuses on Shigella, a bacteria that causes dysentery, as a model.

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