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Humans & the Microbiome

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How do microbes that live in and on us affect our health, development and even behaviour?

Microorganisms cover our skin and fill our guts. These bacteria, viruses and fungi – collectively called the human microbiome – were until recently only considered interesting if they led to disease.

But a growing body of research shows that a properly functioning microbiome has tremendous impact on human health. For instance, the ability to maintain a healthy weight is probably influenced significantly by the microbiota in your gut. A mother’s microbiome could affect the healthy development of her fetus’s brain. And researchers are learning about the effects of colonization on human groups by examining the microbes in dental tartar of human remains in West Africa.

This program brings anthropologists, biologists and other scholars together to provide biocultural context to host-microbiome interactions. They’re asking new questions about what aspects of individual and societal behaviour are critical to understanding the role of the microbiome in human health and development.

By gaining a complete picture of the relationship between the microbiome and human culture and biology, CIFAR’s Humans & the Microbiome team will open up new understanding of the roots of disease, issues of early development, our susceptibility to future pandemics, and even human behaviour.

Detailed Program Description for Applicants to the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Program, 2021-2023

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

Do you want to shape the future of how public health is taught? 

Contact: Amy Cook, Senior Director, Knowledge Mobilization

Founded

2014

Renewal Dates

2020

Partners

Brain Canada Foundation through the Canada Brain Research Fund, Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQs), Genome British Columbia, Genome Canada

Supporters

Canada Life, Anonymous (1)

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Microbiology
Developmental, evolutionary and stem cell biology
Bacteriology
Immunology
Anthropology
Biochemistry
Public Health
History
Neuroscience
Philosophy

CIFAR Contact

Kate Geddie

Fellows & Advisors

Program Directors

B. Brett Finlay

Program Co-Director

Humans & the Microbiome
University of British Columbia
Canada

Melissa Melby

Program Co-Director

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Delaware
United States
Fellows

Katherine R. Amato

Fellow
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018

Humans & the Microbiome
Northwestern University
United States

Meghan Azad

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Manitoba & Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba
Canada

Thomas Bosch

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Kiel
Germany

Naama Geva-Zatorsky

Fellow
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020

Humans & the Microbiome
Technion
Israel

Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Rutgers University
United States

Eran Elinav

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Weizmann Institute of Science
Israel

Tamara Giles-Vernick

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Institut Pasteur
France

Philippe Gros

Trottier Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
McGill University
Canada

Karen Guillemin

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Oregon
United States

Frédéric Keck

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Musée du quai Branly
France

Sven Pettersson

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Nanyang Technological University
Singapore

Hendrik N. Poinar

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
McMaster University
Canada

Tobias Rees

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Berggruen Institute
United States

Carolina Tropini

Fellow
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
University of British Columbia
Canada

Liping Zhao

Fellow

Humans & the Microbiome
Rutgers University
United States
Advisors

Martin Blaser

Advisor

Humans & the Microbiome
Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine
United States

Kate Brown

Advisor

Humans & the Microbiome
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States

Stanislav Dusko Ehrlich

Advisor

Humans & the Microbiome
INRA
King's College London
United Kingdom

Margaret J. McFall-Ngai

Advisory Committee Chair

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Hawaii at Manoa
United States

Mark Nichter

Advisor

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Arizona
United States

Janet Rossant

Advisor

Humans & the Microbiome
Hospital for Sick Children
University of Toronto
Canada
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

Katherine R. Amato

Fellow
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018

Humans & the Microbiome
Northwestern University
United States

Hiutung Chu

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
University of California San Diego
United States

Naama Geva-Zatorsky

Fellow
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020

Humans & the Microbiome
Technion
Israel

Jean-Philippe Julien

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
Hospital for Sick Children
Canada

Tal Korem

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
Columbia University
United States

Alexander Kwarteng

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017-2019

Humans & the Microbiome
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Ghana

Corinne Maurice

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018

Humans & the Microbiome
McGill University
Canada

Jessica L. Metcalf

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020

Humans & the Microbiome
Colorado State University
United States

Carolina Tropini

Fellow
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
University of British Columbia
Canada

Jennifer Zenker

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
Monash University
Australia

Wei Zhang

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Humans & the Microbiome
University of Guelph
Canada

Related News

Advances

COVID-19 may forever alter our microbiomes

The virus (and our reactions to it) affects our health through the microbiome.

Event Brief

Microbiome in Public Health: Laying a Foundation for a New Curriculum

Research on the human microbiome is disrupting our understanding of healthy development and aging.

Announcement

CIFAR completes review of four research programs

Three CIFAR research programs will be renewed and one program will be closed in 2020/21

Advances

Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes may be communicable

A new research paper proposes that “non-communicable” diseases may be transmitted through the microbiome

Support Us

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.

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