Message from Dr. Derrick MacFabe, MD FACN,  Co Founder and Director:

The Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group (KPEARG) was initially founded at the University of Western Ontario from a generous donation from Co-Founder David Patchell-Evans (Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa; President and CEO - GoodLife Fitness Clubs Inc.). From the beginning, the overall mandate was to create an international multi-disciplinary research group whose combined efforts would focus on the development of novel research methods in the study of autism spectrum disorders.

We were intrigued by family stories of behavioral regression in children associated with digestive symptoms and food craving. By assembling a variety of researchers from different backgrounds worldwide, the KPEARG has a key interest in the biological processes linking dietary, microbial and gastrointestinal issues in autism. An emerging field in autism and indeed many other chronic diseases, is the role that alterations of the trillions of bacteria which inhabit the human digestive tract, termed the microbiome have in health and disease.

A core focus of the Group is how metabolic products of the gut microbiome control brain function and behavior in autism, and also related neuropsychiatric conditions, such as obsessive compulsive, anxiety, movement, eating and learning disorders. We are particularly interested in the role of short fatty acid metabolites of gut bacteria and their role in autism and the development of novel clinical biomarkers and therapies to prevent, identify, screen and treat the disorder (1, 2, 3, 4).

Our published work concerning the possible role of gut bacterial metabolites in autism has been listed among the top 50 scientific discoveries in Canada by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). With the assistance of Surface Science Western, we are developing a novel brain imaging technique, Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (1, 2, 3, 4) to image potential metabolic markers in neurological disorders.

The Autism Group participated in CBC Canada's "The Nature of Things" documentary, "The Autism Enigma", concerning the role of the gut microbiome in autism. Click here for more in depth documentary interviews and discussions. Click here for the ARTE France Version "L'enigme de l'autisme - La piste bactérienne".

For the Recent Radio Canada Documentary "Decouverte - Le Microbiote" (French) click here

Click to view online webinars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) or click here to listen to an online radio interview on the neurobiology of autism spectrum disorders and the potential role of gut bacterial metabolites through a novel rodent model.

The objectives of the KPEARG are to :

  • Via a multidisciplinary approach, understand the workings of the brain areas responsible for the symptoms of autism.
  • Develop animal models for autism, necessary for a rational approach to effective treatment.
  • Examine the concept of autism as a whole body disorder that affects brain function and behavior particularly via immunological, digestive, infective, epigenetic and metabolic factors.
  • Develop screening methods to identify infants who would be at risk for autism spectrum disorders and devise treatment strategies to prevent its occurrence or lessen its severity.
  • Provide an interface between the medical, governmental and educational management of autism spectrum disorders

The Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group, provides a unique environment to study the basic mechanisms involved in the causes and possible treatments of autism spectrum disorders. A multidisciplinary approach is used which combines the skills of both clinical and basic neuroscientists, involved in the study of brain development and behavior. Specialists in a variety of research areas such as behavioral neurobiology, genetics, epilepsy, neurotransmitter systems, toxicology, sex hormones, diet, metabolism, immunology and microbiology have collectively combined their various expertises to the study of autism associated impairments in brain development, repetitive, anti-social and addictive behavior, learning and memory.

Our research group has major collaborations worldwide. These include the Department of Psychology (Neuroscience) at the University of Western Ontario, Queen's University (Autism Spectrum Disorders- Canadian American Research Consortium), UCLA (Infectious Disease), University of Arkansas (Pediatric Neurology), University of Guelph (Cellular and Molecular Biology) and University of Calgary. Further collaborations include Imperial College, London, UK, NorthWestern University, Chicago, Maastricht University, Netherlands and Karolinksa Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. We are also core members of the iTARGET Autism Initiative at the University of British Columbia. We are partnering with the American College of Nutrition to promote evidence based research and education on diet, microbiome, and metabolism on brain development and health.

This major undertaking would have been impossible without the initial financial support from Canadian Medical Association Medal of Honour and Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa recipient David Patchell Evans, the father of a young adult with autism. The Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group is honoured to bear her name.

Dr. Derrick MacFabe
Director: The Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group
Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1
Email: dmacfabe@kpearg.com

Disclaimer: All information provided or published by the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group website is for informational purposes only. Please be aware that we are principally a university based research facility and not accepting patients. Scientific information available on this website is from peer reviewed published papers, principally for students, researchers, clinicians and caregivers of persons with autism spectrum and related disorders and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your or your child's physician. Reference to any treatment or therapy option or to any program, service, or treatment provider is not an endorsement by the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Group of the treatment or therapy option, program, or service referenced. The linking to or from this site to independent outside organizations websites does not imply on the part of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group any endorsement or guarantee of any of the organizations or information (including the right to display such information) found on their respective Web sites.

Back to top