Government of Canada and partners invest $18M in crucial microbiome research

News release

January 30, 2019 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Over the past decade, technological advances have enabled the study of the microbiome, which is composed of all the microbes, including the bacteria, viruses and fungi, that live on and inside the human body. Research is now focusing on the links between the microbiome and human health and disease to improve the health of Canadians.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, announced an investment of $18M over five years in microbiome research. This investment will support seven research teams from across the country that will study the microbiome to better understand its contribution to childhood asthma, cervical cancer, diabetes, youth inflammatory bowel disease, and maternal malnutrition.

The investment will also help establish a Microbiome Research Core at the University of Calgary that will support the teams by providing expertise in study design, sample collection, and analysis, and, eventually, a large repository of microbes. These shared resources will help foster and standardize microbiome research across Canada.

The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with JDRF Canada, Mitacs, the University of Calgary and Innovate Calgary, are providing the funding for the research. 


“Our government knows the value of investing in science and research. Canada is a leader on the world stage when it comes to health research, and this investment will allow for cutting-edge research of the microbiome.  A deeper understanding of the impact of the microbiome on human health will help us build a healthier future for all Canadians. ”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

“I congratulate the successful teams for advancing microbiome research in Canada. CIHR is delighted to partner with Mitacs and JDRF Canada to support the most innovative studies aimed at increasing our knowledge of the microbiome associated with disease. The seven projects offer tremendous potential to identify the causes of disease and develop preventative and therapeutic interventions.”

Dr. Charu Kaushic, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity 

“We are honoured to partner with CIHR to continue funding the best and brightest scientists in the field. This investment will provide valuable insight into the microbiome and its relationship to type 1 diabetes (T1D), which will contribute to the fight against diabetes and help to positively impact the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians currently living with T1D.”

Dave Prowten, President and CEO, JDRF Canada

“Canadian innovation depends upon research partnerships such as this that support teams of scientists investigating the microbiome. We are delighted to collaborate with CIHR and JDRF to advance innovation in our health care system.”

Dr. Ridha Ben Mrad, Interim Scientific Director and Chief Research Officer, Mitacs 

“As a microbiome researcher, it is so exciting to see the CIHR supporting such an important area of discovery. From our skin to each of our organs, we know that the microbiome impacts our health and can influence the development of disease. It is incredible to see the depth and quality of research across Canada that this funding will support to benefit Canadians.”

Dr. Kathy McCoy, researcher and Scientific Director of the International Microbiome Centre at the University of Calgary

Quick facts

  • This funding builds on previous microbiome research investments by CIHR. It supports the next phase of microbiome research in Canada through the seven research teams announced today and the Research Core, a multi-centre collaboration that will support the teams by providing expertise and sharing resources to foster and standardize microbiome research across Canada. 

  • 100 trillion symbiotic microbes live in and on every person and make up the human microbiome. 

  • Research has linked the human microbiome with numerous complex diseases including asthma, cervical cancer, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.  Understanding how the microbiome affects these diseases will lead to better treatments. 

Associated links


Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Thierry Bélair
Office of Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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