April 4, 1959

(Edmonton, Alberta)


PhD, University of Alberta (1986)

Awards & Honours:

2012: Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Medal

2007: Order of British Columbia

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Picture of Dr. Brett Finlay

Advancing our fundamental knowledge of life processes

Dr. Brett Finlay

Moving from microbe hunters to microbe managers

In 1676, the great Dutch naturalist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek first observed bacteria in a drop of water. Almost two centuries later Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch recognized bacteria as a cause of disease, leading to development of germ theory, and applied by Joseph Lister in antiseptic surgery. These and other great discoveries establish microbiology as one of the triumphs of human knowledge. Now, Dr. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia, has offered profound research into the mechanisms of microbes at the molecular level, which has revealed their positive contributions to human wellness in addition to their role in infectious disease.

Key Facts

Played a leading role in moving EPEC (E. coli) from a poorly understood pathogen to its current status as a model pathogen for understanding diarrheal diseases

Developed several vaccines including one against enteropathogenic E. coli

Explored new approaches to enhance the innate immune response to treat infections

Addressed contamination issues through the creation of new detection methods for diarrheal pathogens

Cited more than 75,000 times

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

His research in the field of cellular microbiology has led to human and animal vaccines, treatments for drug-resistant infections, and fundamental changes in our ideas of childhood health. Through his research, scientists now seek to unlock the potential of microbes as instruments of healing.

Picture of Dr. Brett Finlay


  • B. Brett Finlay - Induction Ceremony

    Brett Finlay inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, Ontario

  • Let Them Eat Dirt

    Let Them Eat Dirt!

    Along with Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta, Dr. Finlay published Let Them Eat Dirt a book about the possible dangers of excessive sanitation in childhood environments. It has since become an international bestseller.

  • Vaccination tools

    Dr. Finlay was appointed as the founding director of the SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative (SAVI).

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity

    It has since served as an international model for rapid response research.

  • Dr. Finlay co-founded Inimex Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company to facilitate shifting lab work into accessible products

    Cells, Genetics & Genomics

  • The National Food and Water Safety Coalition was founded

    Infectious Disease, Allergy & Immunity

    This is a multidisciplinary research program for microbial food safety organization and under Dr. Finlay’s leadership, led to the development of the Canadian Coalition for Safe Food and Water.

  • Dr. Finlay and his team published a seminal paper that showed Salmonella resides inside host cells during infections

    Cells, Genetics & Genomics

  • The Finlay Group showed how enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) injects its own receptor into host cells

    Cells, Genetics & Genomics

    Another seminal discovery unprecedented in concept


He sees the success of his people as part of his own success