Emily Mercer
Calgary, AB
University of Calgary

Stratas is very proud to announce the winner of the $2,000 Brett Wiederhold Realty Scholarship: Emily Mercer, a graduate student at the University of Calgary studying Gastrointestinal Sciences. This award is made possible thanks to the generous financial support from Toronto realtor Brett Wiederhold. Emily’s project will help uncover more about the gut-brain axis and how the microbiome relates to mental health. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
To date, research has shown that altered gut microbiome composition affects brain functioning and plays a role in disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Emily’s research will explore how the microbiome affects the development of stress in premature infants. The overarching goal of Emily’s thesis project is to understand the factors influencing psychological disorders before they arise. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Specifically, this financial award will help Emily carry out a clinical study of 30 infants born prematurely. Her team will run metabolomic and taxonomic analyses of the gut microbiome from samples collected weekly. She will assess fungal rRNA gene sequencing as well as HPA-axis activity determined by cortisol and ACTH hormone measurements. Emily will complete this project through to August 2020 with a team of five other senior co-investigators. We’re proud to sponsor Emily’s critical work on discovering more about the relationship between gut health, the brain, and mental health - a burgeoning new field of study.