Humans & the Microbiome
How do microbes that live in and on us affect our health, development and even behaviour?
Micro-organisms cover our skin and fill our guts. These bacteria, viruses, and fungi — collectively called the human microbiome — have significant impact on human health. This program brings together anthropologists, biologists, and other scholars to address questions about the microbiome’s impact on human health and development, and how it is affected by individual and societal behaviour.
RESEARCH AND SOCIETAL IMPACT HIGHLIGHTS
Microbiome studies with distinct communities
A new Catalyst Fund collaboration between Program Co-Director and anthropologist Melissa Melby (University of Delaware) and Fellow and microbiologist Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello (Rutgers University), will explore interconnections between the microbiome, lifestyle, environment, and health. By working with study participants from the indigenous Jotï of the Venezuelan Amazon, who have had minimal influence from stressors derived from modern medical, hygienic, and dietary practices, the researchers hope to understand the associations between lifestyle changes and microbiome changes, as well as the resulting health implications.
Developing the next generation of public health experts
Program members continued their work to support the next generation of public health leaders by co-creating public health curriculum materials grounded in microbiome research and public health priorities. This year saw the development of pilot course content covering four critical themes: breastfeeding, diet and nutrition, antimicrobial resistance, and health inequities.
A step forward in Parkinson’s research
Co-Director Brett Finlay (University of British Columbia) established that there is a major link between diet, the microbiome, and Parkinson’s disease. His research shows that by following the MIND diet (a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets), the onset of Parkinson’s was delayed by 17 years in women and 10 years in men. This represents a major advance in fighting the disease, for which there is no cure.
Exploring biological rhythms through cattle
CIFAR Fellow and breastmilk expert Meghan Azad (University of Manitoba & Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba), and CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar and animal microbiome expert Jessica Metcalf (Colorado State University), partnered on an exciting new Catalyst Fund project with the potential to inform our understanding of how daily cycles of milk contents impact newborn development and health. They are overcoming the persistent challenge of studying milk chronobiology in humans through a previously unexplored approach: studying dairy milk and its potential as a model to understand similar systems in humans.
Path to Societal Impact
We invite experts in industry, civil society, healthcare and government to join fellows in our Humans & the Microbiome program for in-depth, cross-sectoral conversations that drive change and innovation.
Leaders from public health schools and CIFAR fellows in the Humans & the Microbiome program are working together to develop new public health curricula.
Areas of focus:
- Integrating emerging evidence from microbiome research into health systems
- Developing microbiome-based public health curriculum materials that enhance public health messages
Brain Canada Foundation through the Canada Brain Research Fund
Developmental, evolutionary and stem cell biology
Fellows & Advisors
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars
How the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the physical and mental health of childrenNovember 10, 2021
The virus (and our reactions to it) affects our health through the microbiome.January 26, 2021
Research on the human microbiome is disrupting our understanding of healthy development and aging.May 04, 2020
Three CIFAR research programs will be renewed and one program will be closed in 2020/21March 26, 2020
A new research paper proposes that “non-communicable” diseases may be transmitted through the microbiomeMarch 26, 2020
Health & Well-being
An understanding of the human microbiome has a major role in an integrated approach to public health.March 16, 2020
An expert panel on antimicrobial resistance chaired by B. Brett Finlay releases its reportNovember 14, 2019
Fourteen inspiring early-career researchers named across five CIFAR research programsSeptember 04, 2019
Rapid advances in research on the human microbiome are leading to new insights on the role of our body’s microorganism...July 29, 2019
CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.