Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellows

Alberto Caminero

Alberto Caminero

PhD

Alberto Caminero is a postdoctoral researcher from Spain. He is interested in the relationship of intestinal bacteria and celiac disease (CD). CD is one of the most common food-sensitive enteropathies in humans and a strict gluten-free diet (GFD) is the only efficient treatment available to patients with this disease. The central aim of Alberto’s research is to investigate the impact of the gut microbiota involved in gluten metabolism on the pathological process of CD. His final goal is to find a future treatment of CD to support or replace the uncomfortable and complicate diet treatment.

Grants / Awards
  • Short Fellowship EMBO 2013
  • CIHR Fellowship 2013
  • JA Campbell Research Award from Canadian Celiac Association 2016
  • Farncombe Family fellowship award 2017
Miriam Bermudez-Brito

Miriam Bermudez-Brito

PhD

Dr. Miriam Bermudez-Brito is post doctoral fellow in our lab. She obtained her PhD at the University of Granada in Spain and did a first postdoc at UMC Groningen and Top Institute of Food & Nutrition, in The Netherlands. She is working on an exciting project focused on the characterization, identification and validation of novel probiotic candidates to modulate intestinal permeability and decrease inflammation. The ultimate goal of her research is the use of these selected strains as a treatment of chronic gastrointestinal disorders such as IBD and particularly ulcerative colitis.

Bruno Lamas

Bruno Lamas

PhD

Bruno Lamas obtained his PhD at Auvergne University, France and later trained as a post-doctoral fellow UPMC University in Paris and MICALIS Institute at INRA, France. He is interested in the relationship between the products of metabolism and the host’s immune system, in the context of intestinal inflammatory disorders. In McMaster, Bruno is investigating the role of the gut microbiota metabolism on the inappropriate intestinal immune response observed in celiac disease (CeD) patients. His long-term goal is to identify new mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of celiac disease, that can lead to development of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies.

PhD Students

Christina Hayes

Christina Hayes

PhD Student

Christina graduated from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a BSc in Biological Sciences and a specialization in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. Began her graduate studies at McMaster University with Dr. Elena F. Verdu (Faculty of Health Science). Has explored the effects of probiotics on colitis in a murine model. She successfully transferred from the an MSc program to a PhD and is investigating characteristics microbe hosts interactions with special focus on barrier function.

Grants/Awards

  • Travel Award (Society if Mucosal Immunology) to attend the 2016 Mucosal Immunology Course & Symposium to present “Role of Gut Microbiota in Structure and Function of the Intestinal Barrier.”
  • Farncombe Studentship (Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute) 2016/2017, for research on “Role of Gut Microbiota in Structure and Function of the Intestinal Barrier.”
  • Honourable Mention & Poster of Distinction (Canadian Digestive Diseases Week) 2015, for “Effect of Microbiota on Maturation of Intestinal Barrier Structure and Function.”
  • Travel Award (Medical Sciences Graduate Program, McMaster University) for Canadian Digestive Diseases Week 2015.
  • Myra Baillie Academic Grant (Medical Sciences Graduate Program, McMaster University) 2014
  • Myra Baillie Academic Grant (Medical Sciences Graduate Program, McMaster University) 2012
Justin McCarville

Justin McCarville

PhD Candidate

Justin graduated from the University of Ontario Institute of technology in with a BSc. During his fourth year he completed a thesis project under the supervision of Dr. Julia Green-Johnson, investigating the mechanistic effects of probiotic strains of bacteria on intestinal epithelial cells. He then pursued his MSc in the same laboratory examining the effects of prebiotic diets on the gut microbiota of rats, and how these changes effected in mucosal and systemic immune parameters. During his Master’s degree he also participated in an internship at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK. He joined the Verdu lab in 2012 and his current project encompasses investigating the role of the gut microbiota as a modulator of the pathological and immune responses to gliadin.

Grants / Awards

  • Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science & Technology (2012)
  • JA Campbell Young Investigator Award from the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) (2014)
  • Dr. Jordan Page Harshman Bursary (2015)
  • Certificate of recognition from the AGA for contributions to the field for an early investigator (2016)
  • Boris Scholar Studentship (2016)

Master’s Students

Jasmine Dong

Jasmine Dong

MSc Student

Jasmine is an undergraduate student in the Molecular Biology & Genetics program. Throughout the upcoming year, she will be working on her senior thesis, examining the role of gut microbiota in the pathogenicity of celiac disease.

Grants/Awards

  • CIHR MSc award

Alumni

Daniel Sinclair

Daniel Sinclair

BSc, Production Scientist at Affinity Biologicals

After high school, Daniel Sinclair spent 1 year at McMaster University in the Life Sciences program after which he transferred to the University of Guelph and finished a Bachelor of Science in their Human Kinetics program. Dan also completed an undergraduate thesis on exercise metabolism. During a couple of the summers of his BSc he was a Student Fellow at Verdu Lab where he worked on intestinal permeability measurements in animal models and compared Ussing chamber ex vivo techniques with in vivo measurements using metabolic cages. After graduation, Dan got a job at Affinity Biologicals. He began as a Quality Control Technologist at Affinity Biologicals testing manufactured products to ensure their quality prior to sale. He was then promoted to Production Scientist, and recently as Manufacturing Team Leader. Daniel has participated in educational activities at the Canadian Digestive Disease Week to inform science trainees about possible career paths in industry. He acknowledges that at Affinity, he utilizes the skills he learned as a student and he draws on the experiences he had during his undergraduate thesis and volunteer summer work in Verdu Lab.

 

Romina Elizabeth Araya

Romina Elizabeth Araya

PhD

Romina Elizabeth Araya trained as PhD at the Instituto de Estudios Inmunologicos y Fisiopatologicos (IIFP-CONICET, Argentina). She visited Verdu lab as an exchange student in the summer of 2010 and returned in 2012 under a Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Latin American Student Research Award for a 6-month international student exchange. In Verdu lab she studied the effect of poly I:C and gliadin-derived peptides in the induction of enteropathy in gluten-susceptible NOD-DQ8 mice. In 2015, she started a Postdoctoral fellowship in IBYME-CONICET (Argentina) studying chronic diseases caused by accumulation of senescent cells and their effects on immunosurveillance and consequences on tumor growth and metastasis development. Romina is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at CIP/CCR/NCI/NIH (Bethesda, US) where she is studying the interplay of microbiota, myeloid cells and innate lymphoid cells in tumor progression and antitumor therapy.

Jane Natividad

Jane Natividad

PhD

As a PhD student I studied the cross-talk between gut bacteria and host tissues. My work using gnotobiotic mice demonstrated that although intracellular bacterial sensors are important in the regulation of colonic paracellular permeability and susceptibility to colitis, changing the intestinal microbiota composition results in normalization of colitis susceptibility. I conducted a combination of gnotobiotic and in vitro studies where we identified that specific components of the microbiota differentially regulate RegIII expression. Further examination showed that MyD88 and Ticam1 genes, which are signaling adaptor proteins of pattern recognition receptors, are essential regulators of microbial–induced RegIII expression by intestinal epithelial cells. My studies revealed that colonization of germ-free mice with a microbiota low in the core family of Firmicutes derived from patients with severe and active UC, promoted a molecular Th17 pro-inflammatory signature that increases colitis severity. Collectively, the work provided insight on the bi-directional interaction between the host and the gut luminal content as well as of potential beneficial effects of microbiota-modulating strategies in maintaining homeostasis and preventing disease. I am currently a PDF in INRA, Paris, France where I continue to work on host-diet-microbial interactions and IBD supported by a CIHR fellowship.

Michelle Wiepjes

Michelle Wiepjes

MSc, MD

Michelle Wiepjes joined the Verdu lab in 2009 as an undergraduate student and went on to complete her senior thesis investigating the intestinal paracellular permeability defect in HLA-DQ8 mice. In 2010, Michelle began her graduate studies in the lab. Her work focused on the protease inhibitor elafin and its potential protective role following gluten exposure in animal models of gluten sensitivity. Michelle completed her Master of Science degree in 2012 and has since moved on the pursue her Doctor of Medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She has completed further research in the field of endoscopy with Dr. L. Hookey while at Queen’s University, graduated as MD in 2016. She currently trains in paediatrics.  Michelle retains a strong research interest in the field of gastroenterology and particularly in the realm of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Manuel A. Silva

Manuel A. Silva

MD

Manuel A. Silva trained as Post-Doctoral Fellow with Dr. Mary Perdue and later in Verdu lab, where he also worked in the Axenic Gnotobiotic Unit. He led and developed projects in innate immunity and epithelial barrier function. He then worked as Lab director in Roche, Germany. He is now a Director in Histopathology at Merck, Germany.

Research Assistants

Jennifer Jury

Jennifer Jury

Research Assistant and Lab Manager

Jennifer Jury is our lab manager. She oversees all technical procedures, ensures lab safety and supports the AGU activities, such as embryo isolation and freezing. She is the Farncombe team captain for CCC fundraising activities.

Grants/Awards

  • McMaster’s President Award for Outstanding Service in 2015

Research Associates

Heather Galipeau

Heather Galipeau

Research Associate

Heather obtained a PhD degree from McMaster University in 2015 and currently holds a position as Research Associate.
Her research focusses on dietary and commensal interactions in celiac disease, and specifically on the potential role of commensal bacteria in modulating gluten-induced immuno-pathology. Work performed during her PhD studies showed that the small intestinal microbial background influences significantly the degree of immuno-pathology triggered by dietary antigens such as gluten. Heather also investigated potential new therapies to support a gluten-free diet. She discovered that elafin expression in the intestinal epithelium of celiac patients, was lower than in patients one year after the gluten free diet and than in non-celiac people. Using a competitive enzymatic assay, her team found that elafin could delay the rate of deamidadion by human tissue transglutaminase 2 (TG2) of the immunogenic gluten peptide 33-mer. The lab also used an animal model with transgenic expression of the HLA-DQ8 gene, necessary for the expression of celiac disease in humans and found that administration of elafin to the mouse small intestine prevented gluten induced immunopathology.

AGU Staff

Sarah Armstrong

AGU Staff. AGU-research lab liaison.

Joe Notarangelo

AGU Staff. AGU equipment curator.

Mike Deibert

AGU Staff

Dr. Carolyn Southward

AGU Microbiology control