Jane A. Foster, Ph.D.
Jane A. Foster, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at McMaster University and a member of the Brain-Body Institute, St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Ontario, Canada. Following completion of her doctoral work at the University of Toronto, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and then a research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health. Foster joined the McMaster faculty in 2003, where her research program investigates the brain-gut axis. Recent work from their group has established a link between gut microbiota and behavior. Ongoing work investigates the importance of gut microbiota and immune-brain crosstalk to normal brain development, and to the risk of psychiatric disorders, and eventually, how best to therapeutically target microbiota and the immune system in disease.
Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain
The gut-brain axis—an imaginary line between the brain and the gut—is one of the new frontiers of neuroscience. Microbiota in our gut, sometimes referred to as the “second genome” or the “second brain,” may influence our mood in ways that scientists are just now beginning to understand. Unlike with inherited genes, it may be possible to reshape, or even to cultivate, this second genome. As research evolves from mice to people, a further understanding of microbiota’s relationship to the human brain could have significant mental-health implications.