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.


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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: ( 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:  ( Congratulations on this wonderful achievement, Jocelyn!




Thanks to everyone for coming to show their support for March for Science! 

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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.


A new study published in Cell Host and Microbe by Dr. Dawn Bowdish’s group, demonstrates the effect of the aging on the microbiota and how these changes drive intestinal permeability, age-associated inflammation, and decreased macrophage function. The study, co-authored by Netusha Thevaranjan and Alicja Puchta, uses multiple mouse models to show that age-associated inflammation is driven by an aging microbiota, and reducing TNF levels can reverse both age-related microbial changes and inflammation. This has important implications regarding how maintaining a healthy microbiome and reversing age-related microbial changes can help improve our health as we grow older. Read the full story here.


Several MIRC members received awards at the annual Faculty of Health Sciences Research Plenary Awards Reception, which took place on May 31, 2017 in the Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion and marked the culmination of the FHS Research Plenary. The event opened with welcoming remarks from Dr. Paul O’Byrne, the Dean and Vice-President of the Faculty of Health Sciences, as well as Dr. Catherine Hayward and MIRC’s own Dr. Jonathan Bramson. Awards were then presented to winners of the Research Plenary Awards, special student and faculty awards, and Graduate Program Awards. The reception was well attended by MIRC trainees, staff and faculty, and we would like to congratulate the following individuals on their awards:

Faculty of Health Sciences Graduate Programs Outstanding Excellence Award, given to students “who achieved a rating of excellent for their last two or more supervisory committee meetings or who have received 'Distinction' on their comprehensive examinations”:  Matthew Atherton, Ehab Ayaub, Steven Cass, Anisha Dubey, Amanda Lee, Dessi Loukov,

Faculty of Health Sciences Graduate Programs Outstanding Achievement Award, given to “graduate students in their final year of a Master's or Doctoral program who have made outstanding achievements, based on the opinion of their graduate program”:  Matthew Atherton, Anisha Dubey, Amanda Lee, and Pavithra Parthasarathy

FHSPDA Excellence in PDF Supervision Award, given a faculty member in the FHS who has “demonstrated outstanding mentorship/supervision of postdoctoral fellows”: 

FHS Research Plenary Outstanding Oral Presentation AwardDr. Jocelyn Wessels (PDF) and Puja Bagri (Doctoral)

FHS Research Plenary MILO Commercial Potential AwardSophie Poznanski (Masters)

FHS Research Plenary Excellence in Poster Presentation Award Sophie Poznanski (Masters) and Danielle Vitali (Masters)




In the article entitled Innate Immune Cytokines, Fibroblast Phenotypes, and Regulation of Extracellular Matrix in Lung,” Carl Richards, PhDMcMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, examines the scientific evidence suggesting that cytokines stimulated by the innate immune system can directly control fibroblast behavior. Fibroblasts are major contributors to extracellular remodeling and regulate the accumulation of inflammatory cells, which can lead to chronic inflammation and ultimately to organ dysfunction. Dr. Richards discusses the potential of metabolic changes, age, and epigenetic mechanisms to affect the activity of fibroblasts and immune system cell populations through impact on cytokine-mediated signaling pathways.

“Dr. Richards has made major contributions to our understanding of cytokine mediated effects on inflammatory disorders mediated through interactions between the immune system and resident fibroblasts,” says Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research Co-Editor-in-Chief Thomas Hamilton, Department of Immunology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH. “This review provides a highly relevant discussion of these issues and is particularly timely as our ability to use this knowledge is enabling new therapeutic strategies to treat inflammation-related chronic disease.”

In a study published in the Journal of Infectious Disease, Dr. Yushi Yao, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Zhou Xing’s lab, shows a new TB vaccine testing system utilizing humanized mice (Hu-mice). By using Hu-mice developed by Dr. Ali Ashkar’s lab, Yao et al. showed that a novel virus-vectored (VV) respiratory mucosal tuberculosis (TB) vaccine developed in their lab which has undergone phase I human studies, was able to activate T cells in Hu-mice as it does in humans. Post-immunization, respiratory mucosal (RM) immunization resulted in greater antigen-specific, poly-functional CD4 T cell responses in the lung, compared to parenteral immunization. Post-M. tb infection, RM-immunized mice had significantly more CD4 T cells in the airways and lung. The vaccine was able to reduce human-like lung TB outcomes (illness scores, lung M. tb bacillary burden, lung pathologies) when administered through the respiratory route, but not the parenteral route, further emphasizing the importance of mucosal vaccination. This study demonstrates that the Hu-mice model is a suitable model to test the potency of TB vaccines and strategies, and that the novel respiratory mucosal VV immunization strategy can significantly improve lung TB protection in a T cell-dependent manner.





Congratulations to Amanda Lee, a PhD candidate in Dr. Ali Ashkar's lab, on her recent publication in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The elaborate study thoroughly describes the mechanism by which NK cells are activated during mucosal viral infection. Using ain vivo mouse model of vaginal HSV-2 infection, Lee et al. showed that type I IFNs signal through inflammatory monocytes to produce IL-18, which then activates NK cells to produce IFN-gamma and augments protection against HSV-2 infection. The study was featured on the IIDR website,and the full study can be found here.

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