Edan Foley

Edan Foley

Edan Foley

Ph.D., University of Cologne

Adjunct Professor
Office: Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Location: 659 Heritage Medical Research Centre
Laboratory website: 
Telephone: 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

Gut bacteria influence host nutrition, development and immunity. In return, the host activates sophisticated defenses that affect distribution and makeup of gut-resident bacteria. Failures in microbial containment often lead to traumatic inflammatory diseases that impact host well-being. We study the effects of commensal and pathogenic bacteria on intestinal health in zebrafish and fruit fly models. These models are particularly suited for such studies, as defining features of gut function are conserved across vast evolutionary distances, and discoveries in flies and fish often inform our understanding of foundational aspects of vertebrate health. We focus on two specific research questions.

 1. Intestinal stem cells are essential for the formation and maintenance of a gut epithelial barrier. We use established genetic models to understand how immune signals affect stem cell proliferation and differentiation in response to chronic stress.

2. Vibrio cholerae is an aquatic bacterium that causes the diarrheal disease cholera. We use the fly and the fish to understand how interactions between Vibrio and host commensals influence disease progression.


  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 

  1. Obedin-Maliver, J., Ochu, E., Zhong, F,. Shaikh, A., Hanna, J. H., Foley, E. Pride in STEM Worldwide. Contribution to the Cell Voices piece on the experiences and thoughts of LGBT+ scientists around the world. Cell 2022 185(17): 3070-3072. 
  1. Shin, M., Ferguson, M., Willms, R.J., Jones, L.O., Petkau, K., Foley, E. Immune Regulation of Intestinal Stem Cell Proliferation and Differentiation in Drosophila. Stem Cell Reports 2022 Apr 12;17(4):741-755. 
  1. Willms, R.J., Jones, L.O., Hocking, J.C., Foley, E. A Cell Atlas of Microbe-Responsive Processes in the Zebrafish Intestine Cell Reports 2022. 38, 110311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110311 
  1. Ferguson, M., Petkau, K., Shin, M., Galenza, A., Fast, D., Foley, E. Symbiotic Lactobacillus brevis promote stem cell expansion in the Drosophila intestine. Development 2021. 148(5):dev186106. 
  1. Galenza, A., Foley, E. A glucose-supplemented diet enhances gut barrier integrity in Drosophila. Biology Open 2021. 10(3):bio056515. 
  1. Fast, D., Petkau, K., Ferguson, M., Shin, M., Galenza, A., Kostiuk, B., Pukatzki, S., Foley, E. Vibrio cholerae-symbiont interactions inhibit intestinal repair in Drosophila. Cell Reports 2020. 28;30(4):1088-1100.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.12.094. 
  1. Davoodi, S., Galenza, A., Panteluk, A., Despahnde, R., Ferguson, M., Grewal, S., and Foley, E. The Immune Deficiency Pathway Regulates Metabolic Homeostasis in Drosophila. Journal of Immunology 2019. 202(9):2747-2759. 
  1. Fast, D1., Kostiuk, B1., Foley, E2., and Pukatzki, S2. Commensal-Pathogen Competition Impacts Host Viability. PNAS 2018.115(27):7099-7104 Research funded by CIHR. 1: Equal contributions. 2: Equal contributions, joint corresponding authors. Editors’ choice in Science. 
  1. Fast, D., Duggal., A., and Foley, E. Mono-Association with Lactobacillus plantarum Disrupts Intestinal Homeostasis in adult Drosophila.mBio 2018. 9(4): pii: e01114-18. Highlighted in mBio. Editors’ choice at mBio. 
  1. 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.

Laboratory Members

Lena Jones

Graduate Students
Eduardo Bueno
Mckenna Eklund
Reegan Willms
Xinyue Xu

Undergraduate Researcher
Ralph Derrick DeLeon