Nov. 4, 2015

Ian Lewis
Ian Lewis, PhD

(Calgary, Alberta) November 4, 2015… This year, 220,000 Canadians will be admitted to a hospital and will contract a hospital-associated infection. Unfortunately, 8,000 of these people will die. Ian Lewis, PhD hopes to help change that. Lewis is the new Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS) Translational Health Chair in Metabolomics within the faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary.

Ian Lewis was recently recruited to the University of Calgary from Princeton University. His area of specialty is using metabolomics to identify the most dangerous microbes in hospitals. Metabolomics is a new scientific method that allows researchers to look at thousands of molecules at once, whereas traditional methods only allow scientists to look at one or two molecules at a time.  “Our research shows that the way microbes digest their food is related to how dangerous they are. We are using state-of-the-art instrumentation to detect the signatures of the most dangerous microbes, and to help identify the most at-risk patients,” says Lewis.

Lewis’s lab has one of the most advanced mass spectrometry instruments in Canada for this type of research. His team’s three goals are to develop diagnostic methods that can be used in to identify the most dangerous microbes in clinical settings, establish the scientific foundation for a new generation of antibiotics, and translate this research into practical treatments. “We are building the next generation of analytical tools that will allow us to detect dangerous infections before people become critically ill,” says Lewis.  “The technology we are developing will allow us to tailor medicine to the patient’s needs and it will help prevent people from dying in Canada.”

Dr. Pam Valentine, AIHS CEO (Interim) says, “The focus of Dr. Lewis’s research and translational activities is on ensuring the right patient gets the right treatment at the right time. His comprehensive research and innovation approach – from basic research focused on potential treatments – is the right way to tackle this major health care problem and the results will see lives saved in Alberta and beyond.”

Ian Lewis’s work is funded for seven years by a $2.3 million dollar investment from Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions. The goal of his work is to advance the science and ultimately save lives.  “I am eager for the next seven years as we work to develop real-world tools that can help reduce the number of people who die from infectious diseases.”

VIDEO:

Read more information about Ian Lewis’s research.  

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In the news

Calgary Herald, January 2, 2016: Dr. Ian Lewis: Biochemist

Background

One of the microbes Ian Lewis will examine is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacterium that thrives in hospital settings. People in hospitals are often weak because of surgery, illness, or specific treatments.  Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be transferred through medical equipment, cleaning solutions, and food.  It presents a real challenge because it can resist many types of antibiotics.