MIRC’s annual Perey Symposium was held on June 7th at McMaster Innovation Park and featured over 35 poster presentations, and 10 oral presentations. The day-long symposium organized primarily by student trainees at MIRC was well-attended by over 100 attendees, including faculty, students, staff and visiting speakers. This year’s opening key-note address was by McGill University’s Dr. Russell Jones, widely renowned for his work on cellular metabolism in immune function and cancer progression. The day followed by oral, poster and speed-talk presentations, highlighting the impressive research being conducted by the trainees at MIRC. Finally, Dr. Sean Bendall from Stanford University closed off the symposium, with an invigorating key-note talk exploring novel techniques in single-cell analysis. The day was a great success and included several award winners who were selected as top presenters within their respective categories: 1) Top Oral Presentation: Hannah Stacey (Miller lab), 2) Top Speed Talk: Joshua Koenig (Jordana lab), 3) Top Poster Presentation – PhD/PDF: Ali Zhang (Miller lab), and 3) Top Poster Presentation – Undergrad/MSc: Yosef Ellenbogen (Jordana lab). Congratulations to all the award winners and for everyone who presented at the Perey Symposium! We would also like to extend a special thanks to the 2017-2018 MIRC Trainee Association (Arya Afsahi, Puja Bagri, Steven Cass, Vivian Lau, Sophie Poznanski, and Danya Thayaparan) for putting together a great symposium and doing an excellent job with events organized throughout the year.




Congratulations to Peter Zeng and Hanu Chaudhari, undergraduate students in the Miller lab, and Joseph Chon, an undergraduate student in the Bowdish lab, for receiving 2018 IIDR Summer Student Fellowship awards. The fellowship is designed to support students working on their research projects over the summer and is awarded to undergraduate students based on their leadership, academic excellence, extracurricular involvement and the impact of their research within the field of infectious disease research. Read more: https://mcmasteriidr.ca/2018/05/fellowships/


Jonathan Bramson is giving white blood cells a new mission: to seek out and destroy tumours.


In April 2018, as part of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health (GIRH) – Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health (FIRH) student exchange, three MIRC students, Steven Cass, Olivia Mekhael, and Chandak Upagupta, studied in China for three weeks. During this exchange, students focused on novel research in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Moreover, each had the opportunity to work alongside world renowned leaders in respiratory medicine, including Dr. Nanshan Zhong and Dr. Rongchang Chen. Living on the Guangzhou Medical University campus allowed our trainees to interact with Chinese students and fully immerse themselves in the Chinese culture. The student exchange strengthened the collaborative link between McMaster University and Guangzhou Medial University through the establishment of novel research and the sharing of expertise.  


Maryam Vaseghi-Shanjani



Dr. Karen Mossman


MIRC stands out again with YWCA's Women of Distinction 2018 Nominees! Congratulations to Maryam and Dr. Mossman for demonstrating personal and professional excellence. To read more please follow the link https://ywcahamilton.akaraisin.com/gala/Event/PhotoGallery.aspx?seid=15075&mid=41

A few years ago, Barb Thomson told her neighbour and good friend, who was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, that she had a plan to help raise funds towards helping fight cancer. For Barb, this unfortunately was not the first time someone close to her was diagnosed with cancer. She knew several individuals who had been inflicted with cancer, including her father and one of her best friends, and these experiences had left a lasting impression on her. In an act of solidarity and to help support efforts to end cancer, Barb chose to “buzz” her hair and raise funds for cancer research. Barb’s close family and friends across the country proudly watched, in person and via Skype, as her daughter, who is also her trusted hair stylist, cut her hair. In the room was also the same neighbour and friend Barb had made her initial promise to, who has now been cancer-free for over 5 years. “Barb’s Buzzin to Beat Cancer” campaign has now raised well over the target goal of $3000; current funds collected are close to $6000, with support pouring in from all over the country. The money raised will be donated directly to cancer research being undertaken at MIRC. Barb’s decision to raise money for cancer research stems from her admiration of her father, a courageous individual who volunteered to undergo experimental treatment when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He understood that without volunteers stepping forward and participating in such efforts, it would be difficult to make advancements in cancer research. His desire to selflessly help others has been a great inspiration to Barb. Furthermore, Barb learned about immunology while watching an HBO special called “Killing Cancer” and hearing about the efforts being taken to fight cancer caught her attention. Learning that through immunology research, there will be “a cure for cancer in our lifetime”, really impacted Barb and resulted in her doing some of her own research and finding MIRC. Barb believes that the research being done at MIRC is very valuable, and that helping fund research efforts is critical to help make the goal for a cure a reality. Barb represents a champion of strength; whose generosity and support towards cancer research is truly inspiring. She demonstrates that every individual, in their own, can help make a difference. On behalf of the faculty, students, and staff at MIRC, we would like to thank Barb for her tremendous support of our research, and for allowing us to be involved in her fight to end cancer.

Read more here: http://alumni.mcmaster.ca/s/1439/ifundmac/project.aspx?sid=1439&gid=1&pgid=7173&cid=12878&ecid=12878&crid=0&calpgid=3305&calcid=5364

Director’s note Mar 7, 2018:

Recent success over the last two grant competitions within the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) clearly reflect superb research capability in the labs of principal investigators (PIs) of MIRC. McMaster success as a whole at CIHR in the latest Project grant competition was generated in good part by successful MIRC PIs (4 of the 22 McMaster awards). The last two CIHR competition successes by MIRC PIs include - Ali Ashkar, Dawn Bowdish, Karen Mossman, Carl Richards, Zhou Xing (a Foundation grant!), as well as Jeremy Hirota as an associate member of MIRC. Collectively, this totaled over $6.6 million of new funds for fundamental and translational research.

Participation by MIRC PIs in undergraduate, graduate and PDF training attracts excellent personnel to an inspirational and diversified environment in immunology. Over 50% of currently active graduate students under MIRC PIs have obtained external scholarships. They are enrolled in the Medical Science Graduate Program (80% of MIRC students) and the Biochemistry Graduate Program.

In context of the current harsh competition for research and scholarship funds, MIRC stands out again as an outstanding model centre for research and training.

Congratulations to all recently successful applicants!


Dr. Ashkar is currently working to discover the host innate immune response to viral diseases and cancers. He began his career as a veterinarian, but his desire to understand the basic reason for disease caused him to pursue a degree in innate immunology. He attended Guelph University as a graduate and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Tehran, Iran. His favourite part about his job is the freedom to formulate a hypothesis that has never been tested before. He still plays competitive soccer at southern Ontario level as a member of the city of Guelph’s senior team.  He also enjoys walking with his sons through golf courses.


Congratulations to Dr. Charu Kaushic, the new Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity

Dr. Charu Kaushic, a long-standing member of MIRC, was recently appointed as the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity (CIHR-III). Dr. Kaushic is the first women to hold the title, and this is the first time a CIHR Institute will be located at McMaster University. Within this leadership role, Dr. Kaushic will focus on identifying research priorities in the areas of infection and immunity, generating funding opportunities, developing partnerships and working towards translating research evidence into policy to help improve the health of both Canadians and individuals worldwide. Additionally, Dr. Kaushic will be heavily involved in setting and implementing CIHR’s strategic direction, further establishing both McMaster University and Canada as global leaders in health research. On behalf of the faculty, students and staff at MIRC, we would like to congratulate Dr. Kaushic on this outstanding achievement and we are confident there is no one better suited for this position.

Read more here:

  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/institutes-health-research/news/2018/05/expert-in-womens-reproductive-health-dr-charu-kaushic-named-scientific-director-of-the-cihr-institute-of-infection-and-immunity.html
  2. https://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/mac-researcher-named-scientific-director-of-cihr-institute-of-infection-and-immunity/
  3. https://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/8586920-burlington-doctor-takes-over-as-cihr-s-scientific-director/
  4. https://www.thespec.com/news-story/8587414-mac-researcher-to-direct-institute-tasked-with-fighting-infectious-diseases/
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