Derek McKay

Dr. Derek M. McKay



Director, Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases; Professor, Physiology and Pharmacology

Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Full Member

Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Full Member

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases

Full Member

Inflammation Research Network


Gastrointestinal Research Group

Contact information

Web presence

Phone number

Office: +1.403.220.7362
Lab: +1.403.210.8999


Office: HRIC4AC60

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Senior Communications Specialist

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Educational Background

BSc Zoology, Queen's University of Belfast, 1987

PhD , Queen's University of Belfast, 1990


I received my Ph.D. from The Queen’s University of Belfast (N. Ireland, 1990) for research on the enteric response to the tapeworm parasite, Hymenolepis diminuta. This was followed by post-doctoral training at McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada), under the supervisor of Dr. Mary Perdue, where I subsequently accepted an Assistant Professor Position in the Intestinal Disease Research Program in 1995. In 2006, I moved to the University of Calgary and was appointed Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. I have authored ~150 peer-reviewed publications, given 150 invited presentations, and have been fortunate to receive research awards from the American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Parasitology, Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG), Canadian Society for Zoologists, and Crohn’s Colitis Canada (CCC). I have served as President of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (2014-2016) and as a Councilor for the Canadian Society for Zoologists.

I have supervised 38 undergraduate students, 12 M.Sc., 11 Ph.D. graduate students and 15 post-doctoral fellows.

I aim to create a dynamic, multi-disciplinary environment conducting leading edge research on the regulation of intestinal physiology and immunity in health and disease, specifically: (a) the role of the microbiota, immune mediators and mitochondria in the control of epithelial barrier function; and, (b) the use of a helminth-rodent model paradigm to dissect pathways of immunomodulation.

This work is supported by CIHR, NSERC CCC and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.


Areas of Research

My lab focuses on the regulation of intestinal forma and function in health and disease, with a particular interest in inflammatory bowel disease.

We use appropriate models including a helminth parasite to affect mucosal immunity, which is paralleled by assessment of regulatory macrophages to inhibit colitis.

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
CMMB 567 LEC 01 01 (MDSC 567) Advanced Topics in Immunology 2021
MDSC 567 LEC 01 01 (CMMB 567) Advanced Topics in Immunology 2021


  • Honorary Doctor of Medicine, Linkoping University, Sweden. 2022
  • Crohn's and Colitis Canada's Finkelstein Award, 2021
  • Fellow Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2020
  • Canada Research Chair, Tier 1, 2006-2020, 2006
  • Fellow American Association of Physiology, 2020
  • C.P. Read Mentorship Award, American Society Parasitology, 2020
  • Fellow Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, 2016
  • President, Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, 2016
  • Research Excellence Award, Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. 2009
  • Stoll-Stunkard Memorial Lecture, 2008


More Information

Vickie Li
PhD Student

Armaan Mohan (co-supervisor: Dr. Timothy Shutt)
PhD Student

Samantha Cortez (co-supervisor: Dr. Eduardo Cobo)
MSc Student

Natalie Andonian
MSc Student

Amit Jaiswal (primary supervisor: Dr. Timothy Shutt)
PhD Student

Parker Volk
MSc Student

Blanca Callejas Pina, PhD 
Postdoctoral Scholar

Lucas Kraemer Rocha, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar

Saranya Navaneetha Krishnan
Postdoctoral Scholar

Arthur Wang
Lab Manager

Eve Higgins
Research Technician