Edan Foley

Edan Foley

Edan Foley

Ph.D., University of Cologne

Adjunct Professor
Office: 780-492-2303
Fax: 780-492-7521



  • Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Innate Immunity
  • Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Scholar
  • Directing Member, Alberta Institute for Viral Immunology

Research at the Foley Lab

The intestine is the primary point of contact between multicellular organisms and their environment. In this relationship, gut bacteria express factors that influence animal nutrition, development and immunity. In return, hosts deploy sophisticated defenses that carefully manage the distribution and makeup of gut-resident bacteria. Failures in microbial containment often lead to traumatic inflammatory diseases that impact multiple aspects of host well-being. As a result, there is considerable interest in deciphering the molecular events that shape host-microbe-environment interactions in the gut. We study the nutritional, microbial, and host factors that shape intestinal health in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Drosophila is particularly suited to such studies, as defining features of gut function are conserved across vast evolutionary distances, and discoveries in the fly often directly inform our understanding of vertebrate health.


  1. Host Inflammation: We have engineered a transgenic line that allows us to induce constitutive inflammatory signals in defined cell types. With this line, we established a novel link between persistent immune activity and tumorigenesis in adult gut stem cells. We plan to determine the mechanistic basis for inflammation-mediated activation of tumor development.
  2. Host-microbe relationships: The fly microbiome consists of a small number of aerotolerant bacteria that are easily cultured in isolation. We plan to determine the impacts of defined microbial communities on gut stem cell homeostasis and function.
  3. Nutrition: Dietary nutrients affect microbiome composition and function, and influence host health and lifespan. We plan to examine the effects of gut immune activity on the access and utilization of nutrients.

Selected Publications from the last five years

Petkau, K., Ferguson, M., Guntermann, S., and Foley, E. Constitutive Immune Activity Promotes Tumorigenesis in Drosophila Intestinal Progenitor Cells. Cell Reports. 2017 20(8):1784-1793.

Petkau, K., Fast, D., Duggal, A., and Foley, E. Comparative evaluation of the genomes of common bacterial members of the Drosophila intestinal community. Biology Open. 2016 5(9):1305-16. BioRxiv doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/036020.

Galenza, A., Hutchinson, J., Hazes, B., Campbell, S., and Foley, E. Glucose modulates Drosophila longevity and immunity independent of the microbiota. Biology Open. 2016 5(2): 165-73. BioRxiv doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/027326.

Guntermann, S., Fraser, B., Hazes, B., and Foley, E. Caspase Activation and Activity in the Drosophila Immune Deficiency Pathway. Journal of Innate Immunity. 2015 7(5): 518-29.

Petkau, K., Parsons, D.B, Duggal, A., and Foley, E. A Deregulated Intestinal Cell Cycle Program Disrupts Tissue Homeostasis, Without Affecting Longevity in Drosophila. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2014 289(41): 28719-29.

Fraser, B., Maranchuk, R., and Foley, E. Identification of Ubiquitin Pathway Modifiers of the TNF NF-κB Axis. Frontiers in Immunology. 2014 5:322. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2014.00322.

Schindler, A., and Foley, E. Hexokinase 1 blocks apoptotic signals at the mitochondria. Cellular Signalling. 2013 25: 2685-2692.

Mereniuk, T.R., El Gendy, M.A.M., Mendes-Pereira, A.M., Lord, C.J., Ghosh, S., R., Foley, E., Unsworth, A., and Weinfeld M. Synthetic lethal targeting of PTEN-deficient cancers using selective disruption of polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. 2013 12:2135-2144.

Parsons, D.B., and Foley, E. The Drosophila PDGF and VEGF-receptor related (Pvr) pathway controls hemocyte viability and epithelial permeability to invasive hemocytes. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2013 288(28): 20173-83.

Mereniuk, T.R., Maranchuk, R., Schindler, A;, Penner, J.C., Freschauf, G.K., Hegazy, S., Lai, R., Foley, E., and Weinfeld, M. Genetic screening for synthetic lethal partners of polynucleotide kinase/phosphatase: potential for targeting SHP-1 depleted cancers. Cancer Research. 2012 72(22): 5934-44.

Bond, D., and Foley, E. Autocrine Pvr Pathway Activity Controls Intestinal Stem Cell Proliferation in the Adult Drosophila Midgut. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012 287(33): 27359-70.

Guntermann, S., and Foley, E. The protein Dredd is an essential component of the c-Jun N-terminal Kinase pathway in the Drosophila immune response. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2011 286(35): 30284-94.