Dr. Richards is currently studying chronic inflammation and its role in altering tissues that result in dysfunction and disease. In his research, he strives to determine how chronic inflammation affects specific cell types that provide the structure of organs and the skeleton, which is information that may help to develop methods of treating disease such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Dr. Richards was inspired to become a scientist towards the end of his undergraduate studies (in Physiology/Pharmacology) when his courses began including laboratory experiments. Other early influences for Dr. Richards include Sir Peter Medawar’s book, Advice to a Young Scientist, and an inspiring professor that taught a course called the Philosophy of Science. Dr. Richards did his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, and his Ph.D. at McMaster University, after which he completed a Post Doctorial Fellowship at the University of Cambridge in the UK. He continues to be intrigued in exploring puzzles in the biology of medical sciences, and solving problems -somewhat like a mechanic or engineer.
As a scientist he gets excited by new discoveries by his own students and trainees that contribute to his research area. As Director of MIRC, he is inspired by success of his talented colleagues in the MIRC group in driving new directions in the important and vibrant field of immunology. In his free time, he plays keyboard in a band, works on his tennis and golf games, and has fun with his close-knit family.
Interview by Jack Bell
Canada Gairdner Award Laureate Dr. Rino Rappuoli, Chief Scientist and Head External R&D at GSK Vaccines, Siena, Italy, awarded for “For pioneering the genomic approach, known as reverse vaccinology, used to develop a vaccine against meningococcus B which has saved many lives worldwide” (read more here) is visiting McMaster University on Wed Oct 25th and will be giving the Gairdner lecture at 10am.
Congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Bramson, who will be taking on the role of the associate dean of research for the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS). This is an incredibly prestigious position, and we know that Dr. Bramson will do an excellent job. Read the full release here:
At the recent gala dinner for the American Society of Reproductive Immunology Annual Meeting, Dr. Charu Kaushic was presented with the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology Award, which is one of the highest awards from the Society. "This award is presented annually to a senior investigator who has made outstanding contributions to the area of reproductive immunology". CONGRATS to Charu!
Congratulations to Dr. Karen Mossman! For more info, read here.
Congratulations to Dr. Matthew Miller on accepting the Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity! This award was presented by Dr. Marc Ouellette, the Scientific Director of the Institute of Infection and Immunity at CIHR.
The CIHR’s Institute of Infection and Immunity (III) has selected Dr. Matthew Miller as its 2015 laureate for the Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity.
Established in 2010 to honour the III’s inaugural Scientific Director, Dr. Bhagirath Singh, this prize is awarded annually to a new investigator in the field of infection and immunity who obtained the highest ranking in the institute’s Open Operating Grants competition.
The official ceremony took place this past month at the III New Investigator Forum in Quebec City.
Congratulations Sophie Poznanski from the Ashkar Lab for the only Master's Student in receiving the Ontario Women's Health Scholar. Her research involves the understanding of Natural Killer immune cells as a new treatment for ovarian cancer. Read more about it here: http://cou.on.ca/about/awards/ontario-womens-health-scholars/2017-owhs-bios/
The Women of Distinction Awards, presented by YWCA chapters across the world, recognize outstanding women who are committed to supporting the development of other women and making an impact on their communities as a whole. This year, post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Jocelyn Wessels from the Kaushic lab, was one of thirty extraordinary female leaders honoured at the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph’s 22nd Annual Women of Distinction Fundraising Gala. Jocelyn received the award under the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math category in recognition for her contributions towards women’s health, her excellence in research, her generous community involvement, and her invaluable role as a mentor for younger scientists. The Fundraising Gala acted an excellent opportunity to celebrate these wonderful women, as well as raise much needed funds in support of Guelph Y programs. Furthermore, the Women of Distinction honourees shared inspirational words of wisdom with the attendees, which can be viewed here: (http://www.guelphy.org/y-in-the-community/women-of-distinction/2017-women-of-distinction-honouree-videos/). When asked what receiving this award meant to her, Jocelyn had the following to share: “I am truly honoured to receive the Women of Distinction award for my work in STEM and in mentoring young scientists, because I am proud of the work I have done and mentorship has been integral in shaping me into the scientist I am today. My main goal in mentorship is to help others grow scientifically and intellectually, acting as a guide as needed. I feel that being recognized for contributing to the advancement of the next generation of scientists through mentorship has been one of my most significant contributions to date.” To read more, visit: (http://www.guelphy.org/22nd-annual-ymca-ywca-of-guelph-women-of-distinction-honourees/). Congratulations on this wonderful achievement, Jocelyn!
MIRC members gathered on June 15th at McMaster Innovation Park for a day-long symposium comprised of riveting speed talks, outstanding oral presentations, and excellent poster presentations, highlighting the cutting-edge research being conducted at MIRC. The day started off with an informative and engaging talk by Dr. Boris Hinz, from the University of Toronto, and ended with an equally enjoyed talk from Dr. Irah King, who travelled down from McGill University. Two travel awards, provided generously by the McMaster Immunology Research Center Faculty Scholarship Fund, were awarded to Dr. Matthew Woods (PDF, Kaushic lab) for his speed talk, and Joshua McGrath (PhD student, Stämpfli lab) for his poster presentation. We would like to thank the invited speakers for joining us and supporting the Perey Symposium. We would also like to extend a special thanks to the MIRC TAsc (Anisha Dubey, Karun Tandon, Jewel Imani, Ehab Ayaub and Lisa Newhook) for putting together a great symposium, and doing such a great job with all of the different events organized throughout the year.
Enhanced protection against tuberculosis (TB) has been shown by several groups using a human and chimpanzee adenoviral-vectored TB vaccine, however, cryopreservation is required for the long-term stability and efficacy of these vaccine formulations. This can be quite difficult, especially in resource-poor countries which are in most need of these vaccines. To address this issue, doctoral student Sam Afkhami and colleagues, were able to utilize a spray drying process that demonstrated the thermostability and in vivo immunogenicity of spray dried human and chimpanzee adenoviral-vectored tuberculosis vaccines. They showed that the spray dried powders containing the vaccines had the chemical and morphological properties desired for long-term thermostability and vaccination. Following in vivo vaccination in mice, the spray dried vaccines were as immunogenic as the cryopreserved liquid vaccines, as levels of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells were comparable between the two groups in the spleen, blood and lung tissue. Remarkably, unlike the cryopreserved liquid vaccines, which lost their immunogenicity when stored at ambient temperature (20°C) for 30 days, the spray dried vaccines retained immunogenicity in vivo even when stored at ambient temperature for up to 90 days; thus, demonstrating the thermostability of the spray dried vaccines. This work has tremendous implications in regard to the development of spray drying technologies, which can generate thermally stable viral-vectored vaccines for clinical applications.