MDCL 2235 | McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario | L8S 4L8

The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

Tel: (905) 525-9140 x 22664


  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle

©2019 by the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

! Registration to the 2019 Gairdner Symposium is now closed.







14 & 15 NOVEMBER 2019  |  McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario


David Braley Health Sciences Centre (MAP & PARKING)


L.R. Wilson Hall (Main Campus) (MAP)

NOTE TO REGISTRANTS: Limited parking is available underground at L.R. Wilson Hall, which can be accessed from Sterling Street. In the event that this lot is full, the next closest lots are lots B and C, located just off of Stearn Drive and adjacent to the entrance of the underground lot at LR Wilson hall. View the campus map here.


Each year, the Gairdner Foundation invites universities, organizations and research institutes across Ontario to submit proposals to host a partnered international symposium on the frontiers of biomedicine.


This year, the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery at McMaster University were honoured to have been selected to host the 2019 Gairdner event on the growing global crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).


Drawing on the Canada Gairdner Awards’ history of recognizing the best in biomedical science, this symposium will bring together leading experts from across the world to present on the state of the international AMR challenge and to showcase recent global advances in AMR research and discovery.




David Braley Health Sciences Centre (MAP & PARKING)

3 p.m. 

AMR Panel Discussion

The report and panel discussion is brought to you by the Council of Canadian Academies.

When antibiotics fail: An international conversation about the worrisome evidence of impact and what can be done.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to health and economies globally. Our two-day Symposium will begin with a special panel discussion during which a panel of AMR experts will discuss the findings from a new report by the Council of Canadian Academies and discuss what steps can be taken to reduce the impact of rising resistance rates around the world.

Beginning with a keynote address by Dame Sally Davies

Unable to attend? Join the conversation via CCA's free livestream at 3:30 pm EST. Register online here


Sally Davies

U.K.’s First Special Envoy on AMR


Jo-Anne Dillon

Professor and Research Scientist, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 3.13.19 PM.png

Andrew Morris

Professor, University of Toronto and Medical Director, Sinai Health System-University Health Network Antimicrobial Stewardship Program


Kevin Outterson

Director, CARB-X and Boston University Professor of Law

Public Lecture Session

5:30 p.m. 



The public lecture session is brought to you 

by Telus Health.

What happens when antibiotics stop



Maryn McKenna

Journalist and Author of Beating Back the Devil, Superbug, and Plucked (Big Chicken)


How I saved my husband's life ⁠— with


stef copy.png

Steffanie Strathdee

Professor, University of California San Diego and Author of The Perfect Predator

What you eat matters—for your health, for the environment, and for future generations. In this riveting investigative narrative, acclaimed health journalist and National Geographic contributor Maryn McKenna dives deep into the world of modern agriculture by way of chicken: from the farm where it’s raised directly to your dinner table. Consumed more than any other meat in the United States, chicken is emblematic of today’s mass food-processing practices and their profound influence on our lives and health. Tracing its meteoric rise from scarce treat to ubiquitous global commodity, McKenna reveals the astounding role of antibiotics in industrial farming, documenting how and why “wonder drugs” revolutionized the way the world eats—and not necessarily for the better. Rich with scientific, historical, and cultural insights, this spellbinding cautionary tale shines a light on one of America’s favorite foods—and shows us the way to safer, healthier eating for ourselves and our children. 

This book was previously published in hardcover with the title Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats.



7 - 8 p.m. 



Reception & Booksigning

The reception & book-signing session is brought to you by Telus Health.

The Perfect Predator


Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, psychologist Tom Patterson, were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. Steffanie dosed Tom with an antibiotic and expected the discomfort to pass. Instead, his condition turned critical.

Local doctors at an Egyptian clinic, an emergency medevac team and then a German hospital failed to cure him. By the time Tom reached the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, bloodwork revealed why modern medicine was failing: Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world. Frantic, Steffanie combed through research old and new and came across phage theory: the idea that the right virus, aka “the perfect predator,” can kill even the most lethal bacteria. Phage treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, after antibiotic use went mainstream. Now, with time running out, Steffanie appealed to phage researchers all over the world for help...and together they achieved a major medical breakthrough.

The Perfect Predator is a nail-biting account of how Steffanie resurrected a forgotten cure—allying with the FDA, researchers from Texas A&M, and a clandestine Navy biomedical center—to design a treatment and save her husband before it was too late.


L.R. Wilson Hall (Main Campus) (Map)

NOTE TO REGISTRANTS: Limited parking is available underground at L.R. Wilson Hall, which can be accessed from Sterling Street. In the event that this lot is full, the next closest lots are lots B and C, located just off of Stearn Drive and adjacent to the entrance of the underground lot at LR Wilson hall. View the campus map here.

Day 2  will be highly solution-focused, with presentations delivered by health and science experts representing many sectors of AMR innovation. Our speakers will discuss the current status and future potential of modern-day AMR strategies and solutions, specifically as they pertain to the areas of drug discovery, surveillance, and antimicrobial stewardship. Students will be given the opportunity to present the research of their labs at McMaster University, shedding light on the potential of new and emerging innovations and ideas in the field.

8 a.m.                Registration | Check-in

8:30 a.m.          Welcome

Karen Mossman, Acting Vice-President, Research, McMaster University

Opening Remarks

Janet Rossant,  President & Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation

Gerry Wright, Scientific Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

& David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery

Morning Session

Bacterial Chemical Genomics: A Path of

Ceased Resistance

Antibiotic drug resistance has reached crisis proportions, owing to a dearth of new antibiotics. Brown lab researchers are developing chemical-genomic approaches with utility in exploring complex biology and enigmatic processes that are essential for bacterial survival. Efforts to date have resulted in new understandings, platforms, chemical probes and lead compounds for antibacterial research. The ultimate goal is to contribute fresh directions for new antibacterial therapies.


Eric Brown

Professor, McMaster University

Coffee Break

Engineering Natural Products and

Antibodies to Treat Bacterial Infections

The practice of modern medicine is made possible by our ability to effectively treat infections. One of the most ominous issues on the horizon in healthcare is the rise of antimicrobial resistance. Resistance has rendered many antimicrobials ineffective. Thus, failure to effectively treat pathogens such as multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria can have ramifications beyond infectious diseases.  Novel chemical matter and/or therapeutic modalities that overcome pre-existing resistance or physiological states of the microbes that render conventional antibiotic therapy ineffective are desperately needed.

Man-Wah Tan

Senior Director & Principal Scientist of Infectious Diseases at Genentech, Inc

Canary in a Coal Mine — Using Bacteria to

Detect Antibiotics

When exposed to low levels of antibiotics that damage but don’t kill the population, bacteria respond by forming robust biofilms as a defensive response. Monitoring biofilm stimulation in addition to growth inhibition thus widens the range of concentrations that can be detected during small molecule screening and significantly increases the detection of active compounds. Dr. Burrows will present examples of molecules with activity against multidrug-resistant, gram-negative pathogens that were discovered through biofilm stimulation.

Lori Burrows

Professor, McMaster University

There is lingering lore that the soil is tapped out and there are no antibiotics left to discover in it. But is this really true? Dr. Chevrette’s talk will explore this assumption and provide examples of recent discoveries from the soil.

The Earth’s Bounty — Antibiotic

Discovery From Soil 

Marc Chevrette

Postdoctoral Associate, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at University of Wisconsin–Madison

Resilience in the Face of Antibiotics: A

Microbial Ecosystem Perspective

The diversity and intimacy of our relationships with the communities of microbes that live in and on our body is nothing short of breathtaking. Recent findings raise questions about how these relationships contribute to human health and disease, and how they are maintained in the face of disturbance, especially the major disturbances produced by modern health care and lifestyle.


David Relman

Professor, Stanford University

Restoring a Healthy Antibacterial R&D


Innovative antibiotics are uniquely held back from the market, with both low prices and small volumes. As a result, large companies have fled and SMEs now struggle to complete clinical development and commercialize. Professor Outterson will review the current landscape and offer a path forward to a sustainable ecosystem for antibacterial R&D.  He leads CARB-X, the world's largest and most innovative antibacterial accelerator.


Kevin Outterson

Director, CARB-X and Boston University Professor of Law

Understanding and mitigating the emergence and transmission of antibiotic resistant pathogens through genomic approaches: the Neisseria gonorrhoeae model

Afternoon Session

Wrap-Up & Closing Remarks

Discovering Cryptic Antibiotic Activity

Through an Unconventional Screen

Mike Ellis

Postdoctoral Fellow, The Brown Lab, McMaster University


Jo-Anne Dillon

Professor and Research Scientist, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan

9 a.m. 

9:30 a.m.


10 a.m.


10:15 a.m.


10:45 a.m.



11:15 a.m.

12 p.m.

12:50 p.m.




1 p.m.

1:30 p.m.

2 p.m.



2:15 p.m.


2:45 p.m.




3:15 p.m.


3:45 p.m.

Lunch & Poster Presentations

Lunch and poster presentations are 

brought to you by Fisher Scientific.

Antibiotics & Resistance: The Path Forward


Gerry Wright

Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research & David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery, McMaster University

Session Introduction

Charu Kaushic

Scientific Director, The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Infection and Immunity 


Coffee Break

The afternoon coffee break is brought

to you by the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity.

The afternoon coffee break is brought

to you by the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity.

There is global consensus that the AMR crisis is one of the 21st Century's most challenging issues that is impacting the health of humans, animals, our food supply, and the environment. The scientific, economic, and societal obstacles to meeting this challenge are undeniably significant. Nevertheless, recent advances in genomics, medicine, chemistry, and engineering can be leveraged to meet the challenge of AMR. By working across traditional disciplines, strategies to address AMR and the lack of new antibiotics are being pursued. These strategies include applying new ideas such as antibiotic adjuvants to rescue 'old' antibiotics, new drug discovery approaches, harnessing the immune system, and using of unconventional approaches such as probiotics and phage, among others.

Leveraging Zinc Deficiency to Suppress

β-lactam Resistance 

Dave Sychantha

Postdoctoral Fellow, The Wright Lab, McMaster University

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 1_edited.jpg

Neisseria gonorrhoeae (the gonococcus) is a high priority pathogen on the World Health Organization global list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria for which research and development of new antibiotics is urgent. This microorganism, which causes gonorrhea, has become resistant to every class of antibiotics recommended for treatment, including the third-generation cephalosporin ceftriaxone, the currently recommended therapy. Clones resistant to third-generation cephalosporins and other antibiotics have spread around the world potentially rendering this pathogen untreatable. The development of methods to rapidly diagnose gonorrhea infections and their antibiotic resistance is vital to offset this potential public health disaster. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS), along with phylogenomic analysis, has provided insight into the complex mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in N. gonorrhoeae, as well as simultaneously describing its population structure. Linkage of WGS data with epidemiological information has provided unique insights into the transmission of gonococcal infections. WGS methods may eventually provide a real-time opportunity to predict susceptibility to antibiotics for rapid treatment, as well as identifying related clusters of infection locally and worldwide. Such approaches will enhance the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and public health disease control strategies of gonococcal infections and impact antimicrobial stewardship.

Gerry Wright, Scientific Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

& David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery

Day 1 of our two-day Gairdner Symposium will provide our audience with a comprehensive overview of the past, current and future state of the global AMR crisis. First, an international panel of AMR experts will discuss the critical findings of a new report on AMR released by the Council of Canadian Academies and the broader global context. The panel discussion will be followed by a series of back-to-back educational lectures on AMR, where our audience will be given an opportunity to engage with our speakers to learn more about the AMR crisis.

Gerry Wright, Professor and Scientific Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research

& David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery

Janet Rossant,  President & Scientific Director, Gairdner Foundation


Learn from world-changing thinkers and innovators in AMR.





Annual deaths worldwide

$1 billion

Associated medical costs in Canada



Additional associated deaths worldwide

50 million

Associated medical costs worldwide

$100 trillion

*O’Neill, J. (2016) Tackling Drug-Resistance Infections Globally: Final Report and Recommendations, Wellcome Trust & HM Government.


Ever since the discovery of penicillin in 1929 and its use as a drug in the early 1940s, antibiotics have saved hundreds of millions of lives. These ‘miracle drugs’ not only cure life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and sepsis but enable physicians to perform high-risk medical procedures like hip and knee replacements and cancer chemotherapy. Without antibiotics, health practitioners would be unable to appropriately care for our most vulnerable populations such as the elderly, immune-compromised, and infants born preterm. However, the rapid emergence of drug-resistant pathogens threatens to reverse the progress that modern medicine has made.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a rapidly growing problem of global severity. In 2016, top U.K. government advisor Lord Jim O’Neill estimated that more than 700,000 people die each year from infections related to drug resistance and that this number will exponentially rise to include an additional 50 million deaths by the year 2050 if no new solutions are found*. In addition to the devastating health consequences of AMR, associated medical costs are predicted to rise to a staggering USD 100 trillion in as little as 30 years*. 
Solutions to the AMR problem include the discovery of novel therapeutics (such as new antibiotics, antibiotic adjuvants, vaccines, and drugs that block resistance) the development of improved diagnostic strategies for the rapid identification of superbugs, and the more careful management of our existing drugs. Global innovators are addressing all of these strategies in an effort to combat the AMR crisis; however, its successful mitigation requires a disciplined, strategic, and interdisciplinary approach that emphasizes understanding, innovation, and collaboration throughout all levels of our global community.


The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research was established in 2007 through an unprecedented gift from Hamilton philanthropist Michael G. DeGroote. Over the last decade, the IIDR has attracted a unique group of experienced investigators who are engaged in life-altering work in the fields of virology, immunology, bacterial pathogenesis and population biology and epidemiology, among others.

Public Health agencies across the globe agree that antimicrobial resistance is one of the most significant global threats to public health in the 21st Century. In 2019, the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery was established with the vision of successfully addressing this crisis. DBCAD members are committed to discovering and developing new resources, treatments, diagnostics, and clinical strategies through innovation in antimicrobial resistance research and antibiotic discovery.

Home to some of the best minds and research facilities in the country, McMaster University has a well-deserved reputation as a crucible of discovery and innovation. McMaster’s core research community is comprised of individuals from around the globe: some 1,300 full-time faculty (including clinicians from the Faculty of Health Sciences), approximately 4,000 graduate students, almost 300 post-doctoral fellows and hundreds of skilled technicians and research associates.