McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Research into salmonella among McMaster projects funded by CIHR

Published: May 8, 2007
Brian Coombes
Brian Coombes, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Determining the genetic makeup of the salmonella bacterium and learning how it develops into a serious and sometimes deadly infection is among 19 research projects at McMaster University receiving funding announced recently by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Brian Coombes, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, has received a $485,340 operating grant to advance his laboratory’s investigation of the genes found in the salmonella bacteria. He will also be studying how those genes contribute to infection and illness in both humans and animals.

Identifying the genes of salmonella, and understanding the various stages of development of the infection are key steps in discovering ways to stop the development and spread of the bacteria.

"We are trying to identify all the genes in salmonella that are involved in disease in humans and animals, and then use this knowledge to come up with new therapies," said Coombes, who joined the Faculty of Health Sciences last year, and is also a Research Scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada in the Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses.

Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can infect the intestinal tract of animals and birds. The bacteria are usually transmitted to people when they consume contaminated food or water, causing intestinal illness.

Approximately 6,000 to 12,000 cases of salmonella infection are reported in Canada each year. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, or are believed to be the "stomach flu," the actual number of infections is estimated to be many times more.

The grant for Coombes’ work was among nearly $5 million allocated for health research projects at McMaster University. McMaster’s allocation was among nearly $78 million granted to Ontario-based projects, and $217 million across the county.

CIHR is the Government of Canada’s agency for health research. It funds research that will create new scientific knowledge that can be translated into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

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