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Kathleen McCoy



Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Scientific Director

International Microbiome Centre

Full Member

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases

Full Member

Inflammation Research Network

Full Member

Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute

Contact information

Web presence

Phone number

Office: +1.403.210.8192


Office: HSC1883


Educational Background

B.S. Physiology and Biochemistry, Victoria University Wellington, 1992

B.S. Immunology, Victoria University Wellington, 1993

Doctor of Philosophy Immunology, University of Otago, 1997


Dr. Kathy McCoy is a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Cumming School of Medicine, member of the Snyder Institute, Scientific Director of the International Microbiome Center, and holds the Killam Memorial Chair at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her research group uses germ-free and gnotobiotic models to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the microbiome regulates host immunity and physiology. She is particularly interested in the dynamic interplay between the gut microbiota and the innate and adaptive immune systems. Her research aims to understand how exposure to intestinal microbes, particularly during early life, educates and regulates the mucosal, systemic and neuronal immune systems and how this can affect susceptibility to diseases, such as allergy, autoimmunity, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Her lab also investigates how the microbiome regulates the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy with the aim to identify microbial therapies that can be employed to enhance current therapeutic approaches.


Areas of Research

Our research focuses on the dynamic interplay between the gut microbiota and the innate and adaptive immune systems during homeostasis and inflammation


To understand how exposure to intestinal microbes early in life educates and regulates the developing immune system and how this impacts on susceptibility to immune-mediated diseases, such as allergy and autoimmunity, later in life.

To increase our understanding of the cellular and molecular pathways underlying the impact of the microbiome in health and disease to enable innovative approaches to harness the microbiome to treat or prevent disease.


Using germ-free and gnotobiotic animal models together with human translational studies. Kathy is the director of a 10,000-square-foot germ-free, gnotobiotic facility. There researchers transplant specific microbiomes into germ-free animals in an environment free from bacterial or viral contaminants. Coupling of animal studies with advanced imaging capacities, such as intravital microscopy, enables researchers to investigate the interplay of the microbiome and the immune system.


More Information

Spencer Abbott
MSc student

Kirsty Brown
PhD student

Faith Keister
MSc student

Pardis Kiani
MSc student

Madeline Mellet
MSc student

Mahana Sabachvili
Visiting PhD student

Marcela Davoli Ferreira, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Aline Ignacio, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Larisa Kovtonyuk, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Camille Petitfils, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Ioanna Petta, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Carolyn Thomson, PhD
Research Associate

Michael Dicay  
Lab Manager

Christopher Richmond
Lab Technician

Christina Ohland, PhD
Research Associate

Paloma Araujo Cavalcante

Francisca Cavalcante Melo

Karen Ratushny
Phone: 403.220.8632