Rozlyn Boutin

Research Topic

Microbiota-mediated immunoregulation and childhood asthma

Research Description

My research focuses on the role of the early life gut microbiota in the development of asthma in childhood. As compared to developing countries, westernized countries have recently seen an epidemic rise in the prevalence of allergic diseases such as asthma. The “Hygiene Hypothesis” suggests that the excessive use of hygienic practices in affluent countries and the over-prescription of antibiotics to young children early in life may be inadvertently having adverse effects on the delicate relationship shared between humans and their microbiota, thereby interfering with the normal development of the immune system and resulting in abnormal immune responses to common allergens. In agreement with this hypothesis, recent work in our lab has identified four bacterial genera that are reduced in abundance in the feces of children who go on to develop asthma as compared to healthy children in a Canadian birth cohort. Using humanized mouse models, I will elaborate on this work and further characterize the influence of these microbes on asthma susceptibility and on understanding the mechanisms through which these microbes influence the development of the immune system early in life.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I have always looked to UBC as one of the top schools in Canada, both in terms of its medical school and the cutting edge world-renowned research taking place here in my field of interest. This, combined with my love of the weather and lifestyle of Vancouver made my decision to study at UBC a no-brainer. I know that a degree at UBC will provide me with the foundation I need to be able to pursue the career that I am striving towards. Moreover, the MD/PhD program at UBC is unique in that it provides outstanding financial support to students in the program and affords the opportunity to work with world-class mentors and alongside some of the best students in the country.

 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have always been passionate about both clinical medicine and research but didn't know how I would be able to consolidate these two interests into a single degree until I found out about the MD/PhD program at UBC. I am very interested in the area of Darwinian medicine or the application of evolutionary principles to the treatment and understanding of human diseases. One area that interests me specifically is the relationship humans have evolved with their commensal microbiota, and how researchers are only just beginning to understand the importance of these microscopic organisms in human health. I believe that a strong research background in this area combined with the clinical training I will receive in the MD/PhD program will allow me to be the best physician that I can be to help people today while also allowing me to contribute to the basic research in the field that will help future generations.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

In my free time, I enjoy playing soccer, running, hiking, and enjoying all that Vancouver has to offer!

 
 

 I know that a degree at UBC will provide me with the foundation I need to be able to pursue the career that I am striving towards.