Ben Willing

Associate Professor, Canada Research Chair in Microbiology of Nutrigenomics (Tier 2)

Agricultural Life and Environmental Sciences

Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science

About Me


PhD, Animal and Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan

Postdoc, Microbiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Science

Postdoc, Microbiology and Immunology, Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia

Job/Research Area

Microbiology of Nutrigenomics


Research Interests

A diverse and abundant population of symbiotic microbes colonizes the mammalian gastrointestinal tract. Imbalances in this microbial community contribute to many diseases including asthma, diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and increased susceptibility to infection. These microbes shape how the host responds to changes in diet, yet we know relatively little about how different members of the microbiota contribute to this process. The objectives of my research are to understand how different members of the resident flora contribute to the metabolism of the diet and how this process contributes to microbial regulation of host physiology. In my research I manipulate microbial community structure using antibiotic and gnotobiotic (germ-free) animal models and use tissue culture, metabolomics and transcriptomics to study this complex system. By understanding the mechanisms through which microbes regulate host physiology and which bacteria are responsible will allow us to set targets for how we should alter the microbiota to promote health in livestock and humans.