Brett B. Finlay
|Year of election:||2012|
|Section:||Microbiology and Immunology|
CV Brett B. Finlay - English (pdf)
Main areas of research: adhesion of E. coli to host cells, intracellular behaviour of salmonella, interplay of the innate immune response and bacterial interactions, the role of human microbiomes
Brett B. Finlay is a Canadian biochemist and microbiologist. He researches the molecular mechanisms of bacterial infections, mainly Salmonella and Escherichia coli, and analyses the significance of individual “microbiomes” for human health. Finlay is actively involved in the development of vaccines and medicines in conjunction with pharmaceutical companies.
In 1997 he was able to establish that Escherichia coli 0157:H7, the most important enterohemorrhagic E. coli serotype in terms of public health, creates its own receptor and injects it into its host-cell in order to subsequently attach itself to the suitable proteins of their cell membranes. In doing so, the bacterium itself is able to smooth its way into its host-cell in the human stomach or intestinal tract.
With his intense research on the interactions between pathogenic bacteria and their host-cells Finlay became one of the pioneers of “Cellular Microbiology”, a new field of research that uses cell biology methods in order to better understand the pathogenicity of microorganisms while simultaneously gaining greater cognizance of the functionalities of the their host-cells.
Finlay is constantly looking for ways in which the findings from basic research can be practically applied. That there is a need for action in the case of EHEC infections became apparent during a tragedy in Walkerton Ontario in the year 2000 when six people died and thousands drowned as a result of water contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7. Finlay came up with the innovative idea of directing the preventive measures against EHEC infections towards the animals that transmit such pathogens instead of trying to protect humans directly. Working together with the Canadian vaccine expert Andy Potter from the University of Saskatchewan he developed the first vaccine against E.coli 0157:H7 in cows.
Finlay has always tried to look beyond the boundaries of his own area of expertise. He accordingly makes every effort to bring representatives from the fields of science, industry and government together for collaborative discussions. In reaction to the worldwide SARS epidemic in which 251 Canadians became sick and 41 died, Finlay organized the „SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative“ with the single goal of developing a vaccine against the triggering virus (SARS-CoV) in the shortest possible amount of time. Three prototypes were subsequently produced within half a year; after one year one of those proved to be effective in animal models. The initiative served as a model for dealing with newly emerging diseases and gained worldwide recognition.
Later Finlay was instrumental in the founding of the „Canadian Coalition for Safe Food and Water“, an initiative for improving the safety of food and drinking water that also addressed the problems of anti-bacterial resistance and bioterrorism. His diversified activities made him a leading figure in the Canadian health care sector and resulted in his being elected as an officer of the „Order of Canada“ and in his being admitted into the „Order of British Columbia“.
In his role as inventor, Finlay is a party to various patents held by his university. In his role as cofounder or scientific advisor at numerous pharmaceutical companies he is also involved in the development of new medicines. Most recently he has once again shifted his frame of reference – away from pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia coli or Salmonella and into the realm of the trillion bacteria that comprise the human “microbiome”. The discovery of four types of intestinal bacteria that protect against asthma in children strengthened Brett Finlay’s´ belief that key factors for human health can be found in the human microbiome.
06108 Halle (Saale)
|Phone||0345 - 47 239 - 122|
|Fax||0345 - 47 239 - 139|