Dr. Gregor Reid is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Western University, and Scientist in Human Microbiome and Probiotics at the Lawson Health Research Institute.
Dr. Reid’s legacy comes from his focus on beneficial microbes, starting in 1982 when only 12 papers had been published on probiotics. As of February 2021, this number exceeds 31,000 papers by authors around the world. Dr. Reid’s contribution cannot be understated. In 2001 and 2002, he chaired the United Nations - World Health Organization Expert Panel and Working Group on Probiotics that defined the modern term probiotics and set the standard for a field of science and commerce, the latter now exceeding $60 billion per annum.
Evidence for him being one of the world’s foremost experts on probiotics comes in many forms. Along with Canadian Urologist, Dr. Andrew Bruce, he developed novel probiotic therapies now used by several million people in over 35 countries. He helped acquire Canada’s largest ever donation for microbiology, $7 million for the endowed Chair at Lawson. He has held 29 patents, published over 565 peer-reviewed publications, in highly prestigious academic journals including Science, Lancet, JAMA, PNAS and various Nature journals. He has been highly sought for his lecturing skills, with over 650 talks in 54 countries. His Google Scholar H factor is 110 with over 41,000 citations.
He has been co-founder and President of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, the leading organization on the science of these areas. He has been the recipient of the Hellmuth Prize, the highest research honour conferred by The University of Western Ontario; the Distinguished Alumni Award presented by New Zealand’s leading institution, Massey University; an Honorary Doctorate in Biology from Orebro University in Sweden; the highest honour of the Canadian Society for Microbiologists for Career achievement; Western University’s highest honour as Distinguished Professor. He is a member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada, the latter being an honour bestowed upon Canada’s distinguished scholars, artists and scientists, since the establishment of the society as Canada’s National Academy in 1883.
His impact on Complementary and Alternative Medicine has been substantial, in Canada and beyond. When he started research on probiotics there were 12 papers on pubmed. By Feb 2021, there are over 31,000 publications. This expansion illustrates the importance of pioneers like him, who so early on and long before the Human Microbiome Project, recognized the importance of beneficial microbes. His commitment to stewardship and excellence in appropriately documenting probiotics and in helping to define fermented foods and prebiotics, and differentiate them from probiotics, is recognized the world over.
Dr. Reid was instrumental in the establishment of Western Heads East (WHE), an experiential learning program based out of Western University. The program launched probiotic yogurt in rural Tanzanian communities in 2004 to help address the malnutrition and HIV/AIDS crises in the continent. It was recognized by the awarding of the AUCC Scotiabank Prize for Internationalization in 2010. The program expanded beyond HIV recipients to reach over 260,000 beneficiaries in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. This was made possible by funding from the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund and the creation of a novel sachet by Yoba-for-Life, a Dutch not-for-profit foundation. The sachet, costing under $1, contains two bacterial strains that ferment up to 100L of probiotic-rich yogurt or cereal or fruit.
Dr. Reid’s sphere of influence has widened through efforts to reduce the problem of honey bee colony collapse that endangers the world’s food supply. The creation of a probiotic intervention to boost the insect’s defenses and fight pathogens as well as offset the damage done by pesticides, has implications for beekeeping in North America and around the world.
Professor Reid officially retired from Western University in July 2020, but retains a lab at Lawson to allow his final three graduate students to finish their studies and for him to provide mentorship to the next generation of scientists.
Professional and Academic Experience
|1983 - 1990||Assistant and Associate Professor of Surgery (Urology), University of Toronto|
|1990 - 1995||Director of Research Services, Western University|
|1996 - present||Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Western University|
|1996 - present||Assistant Director, Lawson Health Research Institute|
Research Interest Area
I am interested in how beneficial microbes, especially bacteria, contribute to health.
The use of probiotics, as dried or food forms, is designed to help restore and maintain a healthy or homeostatic state. I am interested in how this works and who it might benefit the most. For the latter, I believe that effective concepts and products must reach the most needy, not simply those with most money.
I also believe in empowerment of everyone, so that progress can be made in whatever research project we undertake.
Research areas: Microbiome and probiotics, Women’s health, Environmental influences on health, and Genitourinary systems, also probiotic influences on the gut, breast, heart and use of probiotics to detoxify environmental pollutants.