Another proud moment for the Catherine McEwan Foundation as our Research Fellow, Mhairi McGowan wins an award for the research work we are funding.

Konstantinos Gerasimidis, Head of research explains

“The number of bacteria which reside in our gut exceeds the number of cells in our entire body! The composition and function of these gut bacteria are mainly determined by the type and amount of food we eat every single day.

Food components that we eat are used by gut bacteria to produce an enormous number of bacterial products. These products are not only important for our gut health but also for the health of our entire body.

Alterations in the balance of healthy gut bacteria composition and function have been linked with the cause of conditions like allergy, obesity, diabetes and IBD.

Miss Mhairi McGowan, a Research Fellow funded by the Catherine McEwan Foundation is carrying out research exploring the interaction between food, gut bacteria and tuning of immune system in people with IBD. Mhairi with Miss Yunqi Koh, a fellow student from the Medical School in Glasgow,  explore how capable and efficient the gut bacteria of children and adults with IBD are to break down indigestible food components like dietary fibre and how these bacterial products interact with our immune system and induce or suppress inflammation.

Early data from this ongoing work suggests that the gut microbiota of patients with IBD is less efficient than people without the condition to break down fibre to molecules which play vital role in the maintenance of intestinal health and gut inflammation. These are really exciting findings and suggest that patients with IBD may not have the opportunity to experience the benefits of fibre intake in the same way that healthy people do.

Early findings of this work were presented at the annual meeting of the British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology & Nutrition in Bristol this year. Mhairi and her team have been awarded the Sean Devine Memorial Prize for the best research presented in the conference. Mhairi conducts her study in collaboration with scientists from the University of Glasgow and the clinical teams at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Royal Hospital for Children. Mhairi is using a state-of-the art gas chromatography , which has been funded by the Catherine Mcewan Foundation.”