The CIHR Awards
$5.8M Foundation

to Dr. Brett Finlay for his Research on Microbes in Health and Disease

Awards and recognition

The CIHR awards $5.8M Foundation Grant to Dr. Brett Finlay for his research on microbes in health and disease

Dr. B. Brett Finlay, the Peter Wall Distinguished Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories, and the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Microbiology and Immunology, received $5.8 million over seven years in grant funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to support his research on host microbe interactions in health and disease.

The work done in the Finlay Lab has significant potential to impact intestinal infections, asthma and allergies, malnutrition, and degenerative brain diseases.

“We have known for a while now that a subset of microbes cause infectious diseases,” Finlay said. “However, there is now a growing appreciation of the critical role they play in health and chronic diseases. This new development opens up powerful opportunities to find new ways of treating diseases and improving health outcomes. We are very grateful to CIHR for this award and are excited to spend the next seven years studying host-microbe interactions in health and disease.”

Finlay Lab: Research Areas

The Finlay Lab has been studying the role of microbes in different areas of health and disease, including how Salmonella and pathogenic E. coli cause diarrhea and related diseases. The Finlay Lab is using new techniques in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of these diseases and how microbes interact with them. Moreover, they have found that the microbiome can be used to inhibit these pathogens. The Finlay Lab is pursuing these options as potential therapeutics.

Another area of research for the Finlay Lab is the effect of certain early life microbes and their associated risk to asthma. This research is currently being explored as potential asthma preventatives. This work is also being expanded to related food allergies, especially in the context of very early life gut microbes.

Researchers in the Finlay Lab are also researching malnutrition, microbes, and environmental enteropathy, a condition of chronic intestinal inflammation. A new mouse model has been developed to gain a better understanding of the disease and test new products that can then be used to prevent it.

Most recently, the Finlay Lab has begun to explore the gut-brain axis in the context of microbes affecting brain function in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Preliminary data indicates that the microbiomes in these patients are different, leading to new experiments to mechanistically probe this initial finding. The lab’s next steps include the development of clinical tools that can be used to decrease these brain diseases.

To learn more about the Finlay Lab and their research, please visit