Prof. Michael SURETTE


Michael Surette (PhD) is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (2018).

Dr. Surette is also Director of the Farncombe Genomics Facility. Dr. Surette’s research addresses the human microbiome of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts in health and disease across the life course.

The lab is focused on developing high throughput culturing and phenotyping methods to investigate infectious disease and the microbiome, how the microbiome changes with age, applying and improving next-generation sequencing approaches to characterize the microbiome, and bioprospecting the microbiome for potential therapeutics.

Specific diseases of active research include respiratory infections (cystic fibrosis, asthma, pneumonia) and chronic GI diseases (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome).


Depart of Medicine
Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences
McMaster University


Canada 🇨🇦 


Understanding engraftment in human fecal transplant studies and the challenges in design of therapeutic microbial communities

Fecal Microbial Transplant (FMT) is one of the simplest and oldest methods of live microbial biotherapeutics, and has proven successful in a number of indications.

It is standard of care for recurrent C. difficile infections although not widely available. Our team was the first to demonstrate the efficacy of FMT in treatment of ulcerative colitis patients in a randomized controlled trial.

However, FMT has many practical and logistical limitations and is not without risk – the most serious being the risk of infection. Replacing donor stool with defined consortia of gut bacteria grown in the laboratory is being explored as a replacement for FMT.

This approach allows for customized consortia for specific indications, is amenable to quality control assessment and can be reproducibly produced long term.

Using culture enriched metagenomics of the donor samples, we have been able to examine engraftment at very high resolution in our ulcerative colitis studies for both FMT and placebo arms of the study. Our results highlight the challenges in studying engraftment of donor strains and the difficultly in using metagenomic data to design microbial consortia for specific treatments.