Research and Innovation

Affiliated Research Programs and Centres

Chronic Viral Illness Service Research Team (CVIS)

The Chronic Viral Illness Service (CVIS) research team  is dedicated to advancing patient-centred, multidisciplinary research for people living with chronic viral infections such as HIV, hepatitis C virus and human papilloma viruses. Our investigators perform world class research in epidemiology and public health, and conduct basic science studies and clinical trials to discover new therapies for the management of HIV and its complications. The CVIS Research teams aims to advance knowledge through translational research and to train the next generation of clinician scientists.

To know more, visit www.cocostudy.ca and www.hivnet.ubc.ca.

Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the MUHC-RI (IDIGH)

The mission of the program in Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health is to (i) act as catalyst for innovative research programs, (ii) to establish discovery pipelines in select diseases, (iii) to enhance research competitiveness of program members, and (iv) to train the next generation of scientists in biomedical, clinical, epidemiological, and health outcome research.  A total of 35 research groups are pursuing a translational research agenda through collaborations within the program and with affiliated groups of external collaborators.

To know more, visit www.idigh.ca​.

J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases

The J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases at McGill University is a world-renowned centre of expertise, research, and training in Clinical Tropical Medicine, including neglected tropical diseases, and is the largest of its kind in North America.

To know more, visit www.mcgill.ca/tropmed/home-page.

McGill Global Health Programs

The mission of McGill Global Health Programs (GHP) is to address health inequities and improve global health through education, research, and partnerships. GHP and its partners draw on the talents and resources of one of the world’s leading educational and research institutions to achieve the following goals: 1) Offer high-quality education and training in global health, and enhance capacity in resource-limited settings; 2) Facilitate and conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and policy-relevant research to address critical global health challenges and priorities; and 3) Build strategic partnerships with major stakeholders and institutions in Canada and internationally, to exchange knowledge and skills, to ensure knowledge translation, and to support advocacy and implementation of policies.

To know more, visit www.mcgill.ca/globalhealth.

McGill International TB Centre

The Centre brings together over 20 investigators with expertise ranging from economics to mouse models, working both at an academic centre and with a number of collaborating groups around the world. Please refer to http://www.mcgill.ca/tb/ to find out why our Centre is a world leader in the interdisciplinary study of TB and how we work together to unravel the many mysteries of this recalcitrant disease.

McGill Vaccine Study Centre (VSC)

The McGill VSC, co-directed by Drs. Brian Ward and Caroline Quach, is one of the largest and most active academic vaccine evaluation sites in the country. It is an integral part of the Canadian Association for Immunization Research and Evaluation (CAIRE) and the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN). The VSC runs between 5-7 Phase I-IV studies every year. An 8-bed vaccine challenge site will be opened in March 2015. 

To know more, visit www.vaccinestudycentre.com/en/.

 

Investigators Research Work within the Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. André Dascal

Dr. Brian Ward – Viruses and vaccines

The laboratory has 3 core areas of activity: 1) the development of plant-made, nanoparticle vaccines for respiratory viruses (measles, RSV, influenza, CDV) across 

the age-range 2) virus-micronutrient interactions with a particular focus on retinoid-virus interactions and 3) novel adjuvants and immunomodulators to enhance vaccine efficacy and safety. The lab is shared with Dr. Momar Ndao so a fourth area of interest is tissue/blood protozoan biology.

 

Dr. Cecilia Costiniuk - Chronic pulmonary disease in HIV-infected individuals

Despite the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy, individuals with HIV appear to be at increased risk of chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which cannot be accounted for by smoking alone. Dr Costiniuk’s clinical and translational research program focuses on understanding potential factors associated with accelerated chronic lung disease, such as pulmonary inflammation and pulmonary immune abnormalities, in HIV-infected individuals on effective antiretroviral therapy.

Dr. Cedric Yansouni – Diagnostic tools for infectious diseases in low-resource or remote areas

For many crippling infections in low-resource settings, accessibility of accurate diagnostic tests is the principal factor in limiting access to life-saving care or community-level disease control. Similarly, most remote aboriginal communities in northern Quebec have no local access to conventional microbiology services, 

despite a high burden of disease. Recognition of this diagnostic bottleneck has focused attention on bringing diagnostic testing closer to the point of care, with the objective of improving individual case management and community-level disease control. The Yansouni group works to develop diagnostic tools for infectious diseases that can be implemented in low-resource or remote areas. Theme 1 deals with the development of non-invasive testing strategies for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) that fill key gaps left by currently available tools. Theme 2 centers on assessing the role of near-care diagnostics in improving disease control for infections of public health importance in remote areas of northern Quebec.

 

Dr. Charles Frenette - Infection prevention and control

Doctor Charles Frenette has been a pioneer in developing and organizing the provincial network for surveillance of nosocomial infections in Quebec (SPIN) including surveillance for C. difficile, MRSA , VRE and nosocomial blood stream infections. With the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) he is been involved in evaluating and studying application and effectiveness of infection control measures in acute care hospitals in Quebec . In addition he is involved in the evaluation of rapid diagnostic techniques for the diagnosis of specific infectious diseases such as MRSA , influenza and C. difficile. He currently is the Chair of the Canadian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance Program (CNISP) a large network of Canadian teaching hospitals which has published extensively on the surveillance of nosocomial infections in Canada.

Dr. Christina Greenaway - Infectious diseases in the immigrant population

Immigrants are at increased risk for detectable and treatable infectious diseases as compared to the Canadian-born population however, there are no systematic screening or health promotion programs for this population after arrival. Dr. Greenaway’s research program is focused on measuring the burden and impact of infectious diseases in the immigrant population. The objective of her program is to decrease health disparities for this population and to inform public health programs and policy. She is currently conducting studies on the incidence, costs and health care utilization of vaccine preventable diseases, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, and intestinal parasites in the immigrant population. This data is being used in economic modeling studies to determine the most cost-effective strategies to address these health issues. She is actively involved in developing evidence based preventive clinical care guidelines for newly arrived immigrants for Canada and Europe.

Dr. Don Sheppard – Invasive fungal diseases

The Sheppard laboratory uses molecular and cellular biology approaches to understand the interactions of the fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus with the human host. Using these approaches we have discovered the molecular mechanism by which this mold attaches to and invades human cells. In addition to continuing our studies probing the fundamental biology of host-fungal interactions, we are currently pursuing therapeutic strategies that target fungal adherence to host cells in order to prevent or treat invasive aspergillosis.

Dr. Don Vinh – Susceptibility to infection

The Vinh laboratory combines molecular genetics with functional immunology to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which susceptibility to infection occurs. This integrated bench-to-bedside approach aims to correctly identify established and novel Primary Immunodeficiency disorders, and to develop a comprehensive understanding of the natural history, pathophysiology and management of these conditions.

Dr. Gerasimos Zaharatos – HIV vaccine discovery science

The Zaharatos laboratory is focused on the development of gene-based vaccines and adjuvants with a particular emphasis on HIV vaccine discovery science. Specifically, we are interested in: 1) understanding innate cellular responses to DNA vaccine vectors and developing methods to render DNA vaccines more immunogenic for humans, 2) developing gene and protein-based vaccines capable of eliciting HIV-1 envelope-specific neutralizing antibodies and 3) exploring host parameters that modulate HIV-1 envelope-specific humoral responses in HIV-infected individuals. The lab uses a combination of molecular biology, cell biology, small animal immunization studies and immunoassay methods to iteratively design, develop and assess novel vaccine and adjuvant concepts. More information can be found at: http://www.ladydavis.ca/en/gerasimoszaharatos

Dr. Ivan Brukner - Improving Microbial Diagnostics

Our Molecular Microbiology Diagnostics Laboratory performs routine PCR-based tests and thrives to constantly improve quality performance while reducing the cost of testing. Special focus is on high volume molecular screening assays (MRSA, Clostridium difficile, VRE...), maintaining strong partnership with other molecular-diagnostic hospital centers in Quebec and Canada. The resolution of technological bottle-necks in molecular microbiology is of major research interest, including universal bacterial genome amplification steps (from clinical samples), allowing enough material for downstream analysis on multiple platforms.

Dr. Makeda Semret - Hospital associated infections

Dr Semret’s main focus is on the epidemiology and clinical characteristics of Hospital Associated Infections (HAI) and the burden of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Africa, specifically Ethiopia, where she helped implement a training program in Infectious Diseases in collaboration with Addis Ababa University. Her group is assessing the impact of training and a systematic microbiology lab-supported antimicrobial stewardship intervention on the burden of AMR in this setting. She is also involved in surveillance studies of influenza among hospitalized patients in Montreal, and in assessing the impact of rapid respiratory virus testing on patient outcomes.

Dr. Marcel Behr – Épidémiologie moléculaire et génomique bactérienne

In conjunction with public health investigators, the Behr laboratory uses molecular biology tools create DNA fingerprints of bacteria, allowing us to better track the spread of organisms within the community. This combination is known as molecular epidemiology. As well, the Behr lab uses bacterial genomics to determine the genetic differences between closely related organisms to understand the reason why some cause disease and others are less virulent. More specifically, a variety of genetic techniques, including PCR, DNA microarrays and whole genome sequencing have been used to uncover the molecular differences within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, between subspecies of Mycobacterium avium and across the mycobacterial genus.

Dr. Marina Klein – HIV and Hepatitis C co-infection

Dr. Klein leads a team conducting clinical and epidemiologic research in HIV and Hepatitis C co-infection: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded prospective Canadian Coinfection Cohort Study . The primary objectives are to study the interactions between these two chronic viruses and their natural history in

 the era of combination antiretroviral therapy and to evaluate therapeutic strategies aimed at improving health outcomes in co-infected persons. The cohort has evolved into a translational platform for research and mentoring across many disciplines. For example, we are: evaluating and validating non-invasive markers of hepatic fibrosis; evaluating the role of comorbidities in driving liver outcomes; studying immunologic correlates of HCV related health and treatment outcomes; developing new methods for eliminating bias in observational research studies, and conducting randomized interventional studies aimed at slowing liver disease progression in co-infected persons. http://www.cocostudy.ca/

Dr. Martin Olivier – Host-pathogen interactions and innate inflammatory responses

The Olivier laboratory is focused on host-pathogen interactions and innate inflammatory responses. More precisely, his laboratory works to 

decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms whereby intracellular pathogens such as Leishmania can subvert macrophage immune functions by altering their signaling pathways; to study the role of malarial hemozoin in the development of malaria inflammatory related pathologies, as well as to study the role of exosomes (a type of microvesicles released by pathogens and their host) in the induction and the development of infection.

 

Dr. Michael Reed – Tuberculosis

Research in the Reed laboratory focuses on the pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the infectious disease, tuberculosis (TB). Over recent years, it has become evident that considerable phenotypic diversity exists amongst clinical isolates of TB and we are interested in understanding the impact of this diversity on disease pathogenesis. Increasing our knowledge of variably expressed metabolic pathways and virulence mechanisms employed by M. tuberculosis may ultimately shed light on novel ways to diagnose and prevent TB transmission and disease.

Dr. Momar Ndao – Human parasitoses

The laboratory is been built around the National Reference Centre for Parasitology (NRCP) which is focused on the development, evaluation and implementation of tests for human parasitoses. A wide range of in vitro/in vivo models have been developed to support the NRCP which are used to test novel vaccines/drugs and to study parasite biology. The lab is particularly interested in the non-malaria, blood/tissue protozoa (eg: African and American trypanosomiasis, crytposporidiosis, toxoplasmosis, leishmaniasis).

Dr. Vivian Loo – Clostridium difficile

Dr. Loo’s research group studies the intestinal pathogen Clostridium difficile. Her research activities primarily focus on the epidemiology, health outcomes, rapid diagnosis and infection control aspects related to C. difficile infection.​

Dr. Yves Longtin – Healthcare-associated infections

Healthcare-associated infections are a major patient safety issue causing significant morbidity. The research team of Dr. Longtin investigates the mechanisms leading to healthcare-associated infections, and aims to develop new strategies to prevent these infections. Research areas include the bacteria Clostridium difficile, drug-resistant bacteria and hand hygiene.