Mission and Vision
Our mission: Provide McGill investigators and their partners with infrastructure and resources for our university to become an international leader in translational microbiome studies. The primary objective of the McGill Centre for Microbiome Research is to support microbiome research activities and their outcomes to generate evidence-based knowledge for the benefit of medicine and public health.
Two McGill researchers are joining forces to set up this new Research Centre: Dr. Ken Dewar, Director of the Microbial Genomics Platform, and Dr. Irah King, Director of both the Microbiome Centre and the Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform. The Microbiome Centre is fortunate to have Dr. Corinne Maurice as Assistant Director with expertise in gut microbiome physiology, Dr. Benoit Cousineau, a molecular bacteriologist, leading the microbial isolation and cultivation laboratory component of the genomics platform and Dr. Jesse Shapiro, also involved in the genomics platform, bringing expertise in microbial evolutionary genomics.
The McGill Centre for Microbiome Research aims to integrate and synergize microbiome research activities by offering services through its two distinct but complementary McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4)-supported platforms. Using state-of-the-art technology, the Gnotobiotic Animal Research platform at the Research Institute – McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) will provide mouse models kept under controlled environmental conditions for various experimental applications, while the Microbial Genomics platform on the McGill University downtown campus offers expertise and specialized services for pathogen and microbiome sequencing as well as bioinformatics support. With the goal of reaching investigators across the McGill community, our Centre will offer consultation and experimental design services to make microbiome research accessible to a wide range of scientific domains.
Our vision: Be the one stop for everything microbiome related in Montreal.
Our Centre's researchers team combines diverse, yet complementary skills to offer remarkable expertise with a collaboration-oriented approach.
Irah King - Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Barrier Immunity, Department of Microbiology and Immunology - Director of the Microbiome Centre / Director of the Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform
Dr. King’s research focuses on understanding how immune cells communicate with their local environment to promote protective responses relevant to human disease. He is particularly interested in barrier tissues such as the intestine, lung and skin, which contain a complex network of immune cells patrolling just beneath the surface to protect us from environmental insults and pathogen invasion. His research team also investigates how the vast community of microbes that reside on or in us, referred to as our microbiota, shape immunity to infection and impact inflammatory diseases ranging from helminth infection to Alzheimer’s disease. Collectively, his work aims to identify tissue-specific mechanisms of immune defense that will inform clinical approaches to maximize health and minimize disease.
Click on the following link to learn more about Dr King's work! https://www.mcgill.ca/microimm/irah-king
Ken Dewar - Associate Professor, Department of Human Genetics - Director of the Microbial Genomics Platform
Dr. Dewar’s research interests straddle advanced DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics. He is interested in strategies for genome assembly and how to use bioinformatics to know that “we have got it right”, then using the assemblies as references to discern genetic variation and to annotate genetic processes. Dr. Dewar firmly believes that genomics is not only transforming human biomedical research, but is revolutionizing research across the full breadth of life sciences. The ability to use core instrumentation and expertise throughout biology is underpinning new advances in the fields of research including, but not limited to human and animal medicine, food safety, environmental assessment, and biotechnology.
Click on the following link to learn more about Dr Dewar's work! https://www.mcgill.ca/microimm/ken-dewar
Corinne Maurice - Assistant Professor, Canada Research Chair in Microbiome Physiology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology – Assistant Director of the Microbiome Centre
Dr. Maurice’s research strives to better understand the interactions between gut bacteria and the viruses that infect them, bacteriophages. Despite the central role of the gut microbiota for health, there is no clear information about “Who does what?” in gut bacterial communities and how bacteriophages can change this. Considering human health from a microbial standpoint, her research team explores how different members of the gut interacts in health, intestinal inflammation, and during early life.
Click on the following link to learn more about Dr Maurice's work! http://www.mauricelab.ca/
Benoît Cousineau - William Dawson Scholar, Chercheur-Boursier Senior FRSQ, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology - Associate Director of the Microbial Genomics Platform
The two main research topics of Dr. Cousineau’s laboratory focus on bacterial group II introns and the delivery of biologically active molecules for the treatment or prevention of various human diseases. His research program is multidisciplinary involving bacteriology, molecular microbiology, microbial genetics, microbiome and evolution. One the one hand, Dr. Cousineau’s laboratory studies the splicing pathways, mobility pathways, function and evolution of bacterial group II introns at the molecular level in vivo. Furthermore, his research group engineers the “food grade” and Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) gram-positive bacterium Lactococcus lactis to produce and deliver biologically active molecules in the treatment or prevention of various human diseases.
Click on the following link to learn more about Dr. Cousineau's work! https://www.mcgill.ca/microimm/benoit-cousineau
Jesse Shapiro - Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology - Associate Director of the Microbial Genomics Platform
Dr Shapiro's research uses genomics to understand the ecology and evolution of microbes, ranging from freshwater bacterioplankton to the human gut microbiome. His work has helped elucidate the origins of bacterial species, leading to a more unified species concept across domains of life, and has developed genome-wide association study (GWAS) methods tailored for bacteria. He is particularly interested in pathogen evolution, and their evolution within patients, and interactions with members of the resident microbiome. His laboratory currently has projects on the ecology and evolution of toxic cyanobacterial blooms, cholera infections, and antimicrobial resistance, among others.
Click on the following link to learn more about Dr. Shapiro's work! http://www.shapirolab.ca/
Our Research Platforms
Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform
After receiving the sterile animal equipment at the beginning of 2020, The Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform completed development of its quality control program by the end of the year. Located at the MUHC-Glen site, our platform is now ready to host germ-free and gnotobiotic experiments for McGill and MUHC-RI researchers. We also welcome collaborations with, other local institutions and industry to build a community of precision microbiome research. Our platform provides investigators with infrastructure, technical support and consultation services to perform CL1 and CL2 in vivo gnotobiotic studies. The combination of state-of-the art technology, an extensive quality control program, dedicated and trained personnel allow us to meet a wide variety of research applications.
Microbial Genomics Platform
Since 2019, the Microbial Genomics Platform strengthens expertise in microbiology, culturomics, genomics and bioinformatics to assess microbial content and identify key microbes associated with health and disease. We provide services to the research community of both McGill and other institutions, with robust methods for anaerobic microbiology and genomics/bioinformatics applications, and support benchmark studies to constantly develop and refine innovative approaches for the study of the microbiome. We strive for state-of-the-art, cost-efficient, and validated tools for robust results, benefiting research teams at large.
Find more on our platforms and how we can support your research by going to our Services section.
In its simplest form, our logo represents a variety of microorganisms in a petri dish, a classic representation of how we study microbiomes. On a deeper level, we display a variety of microorganisms in McGill red to allude to the complexity of microbiomes, and the connections between them to emphasize the interactive nature within the microbiota and with their host. Further, the interconnections also reflect the coordination and multi-disciplinarity of our researchers and our collective expertise in microbiology, genomics, bioinformatics, and animal models. We show the microorganisms extending beyond the circular border to signify how we aim to push beyond the boundaries of current knowledge, and the ring itself to emphasize how our projects often begin with very little prior knowledge but strive to improve human and environmental health.
In November 2021, the Centre launched a logo contest within the McGill community with the aim of finding a memorable design to express the goals and values of our Centre as we strive to become an international leader in translational studies to improve health and mitigate disease. The contest winner, Ms Nada Al-Emadi, captured our mission and vision creating a logo that will become our trademark to be used for all our social media outlets and official communication. When asked how she came up with the logo idea, she shared with us a little bit of her background and interests leading her to the Centre contest:
"I am a scientist with a passion for graphic design. I started my design journey when I was in high school after taking a Design and Technology course. I enjoyed learning the concepts and theories of design. As a visual learner, my interest was sparked to introduce graphic design concepts to science, to make it fun and simple. To this day, I use my skills whenever an opportunity arises to achieve this goal.
I created this logo with the complexity and interdisciplinary nature of the research conducted at the McGill Center for Microbiome Research in mind. The giving hand highlights the primary goal of the centre to generate knowledge that benefits medicine and public health for generations to come. The main circle highlights continuous research, the cycle of knowledge, and the host as a “vessel” that holds the microbiome. While the inner components of the circle represent the microbiome and the complexity of its interaction with and within the host as well as with the external environment. "
We are thrilled by our collaboration with Ms Al-Emadi on this project and we look forward to seeing her combining art and science again.