Dr. Karen Madsen


Department of Medicine

Division of Gastroenterology
    Contact details are for academic matters only.

About Me

Personal Statement:

Changing the gut microbiome really changes health and disease dramatically. My research looks at how microbes interact with the human host.  I work with clinical colleagues to test how therapies aimed at modulating the gut microbiome can influence metabolic and inflammatory diseases.

Dr. Madsen completed a BSc (Hon) and MSc in biochemistry at the University of Manitoba followed by a PhD in the gastrointestinal physiology at the University of Calgary. She is a leading researcher in intestinal permeability and gut microbiota and their effects on disease and health.

Leadership and Collaborations:

Dr. Madsen is a lead investigator in the GEM project and the national IMAGINE Chronic Disease Network. She is a member of the Women’s & Children’s Health Research Institute in Edmonton and the Digestive Health Strategic Clinical Network.  She is the University of Alberta lead for the national Microbiome Research Core (IMPACTT).



Dr. Madsen supervises trainees at all levels who are pursuing research. She is an advisor and mentor to young faculty who are developing research expertise.


The primary focus of my research is the relationships between the host and its resident microbiota, with specific interests in the role of microbes in inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic disorders and how environmental factors and diet can modulate these interactions.  My overall research goal is to gain mechanistic knowledge into these interactions in order to design effective therapeutic interventions aimed at manipulation of the gut microbiota to improve human health.  My work employs a variety of complementary approaches including animal models, human tissues, cell culture models, and clinical trials.  

Dr. Madsen is a highly cited author or co-author of 250 published research articles and abstracts. Her research has garnered support from many agencies including the University Hospital Foundation, the Weston Foundation, Alberta Health Services’ Digestive Health Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Innovates, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Association of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Calgary Center for Clinical Research, and the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons.

She has received awards from the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, the Canadian Association for Gastroenterology, Crohn's Colitis Canada and Canadian Association for Medical Education.

Research Keywords

bacteria-host interactions, diet, genetics, gut microbes, inflammatory bowel disease, innate immunity, microbiome, microbiota, probiotics