Since its inception nearly a decade ago, the Michael
G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease
Research (IIDR) remains a world-leading centre of
transdisciplinary infectious disease research.
Year after year, our 35 members and 300-plus trainees
engage in life-altering work in the fields of virology,
immunology, bacterial pathogenesis and population
biology and epidemiology.
And 2015 was certainly no exception.
During the spring of last year, at the height of the
Ebola outbreak that swept through parts of West
Africa, IIDR member Dr. Jonathan Dushoff initiated
a collaborative study to determine the safety and
efficacy of an Ebola vaccine. Their findings, which
were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, led to
an improved vaccine trial design later adopted by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year also saw the IIDR further cement its reputation
as a global leader in the fight against antibiotic resistance,
when it was awarded a grant worth more than $10 million
from the Ontario Research Fund. The approval of this
grant is a testament to the unique character of our group,
and will allow us to build on our momentum and begin
translating fundamental, basic research into new candidate
drugs to address the challenge of antibiotic resistance.
Translating our work into something practical for
people to use and/or understand has and always will be
a core value of the IIDR. And last year saw us reintroduce
our Bedside-to-Bench Seminar Series, offering the
McMaster community the chance to learn more about the
cutting-edge work our members – from both the lab and
the clinic – have become synonymous with.
Finally, within the last six months, we have been very
fortunate to welcome two new members to the IIDR,
allowing us to expand on an already diverse and talented
group of principal investigators. I would like to take
this opportunity to welcome Dr. Tohid Didar, assistant
professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering,
and Dr. Lesley MacNeil, assistant professor in the
Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.
Gerry Wright, PhD
Professor and Director, Michael G. DeGroote Institute for
Infectious Disease Research
Report from the Director | Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research
CIHR Foundation Grant Dr. Eric Brown was awarded a 7-year
CIHR Foundation Grant valued at $2.75 million supporting his
research on the survival strategies of bacteria.
CIHR Team Grant A group of international researchers, led by
Dr. Charu Kaushic, was awarded a $1.2 million CIHR Team Grant to
study the mucosal immune response to HIV.
Marie Elliot’s DAS Grant Dr. Elliot was one of six researchers
from McMaster to receive the prestigious NSERC Discovery
Accelerator Supplement (DAS). It will play a key role in supporting her
research on how antibiotic pathways are controlled in Streptomyces –
the source of more than half of the world’s antibiotics.
Brian Lichty co-discovery Dr. Lichty co-discovered and
developed a novel and powerful therapy that uses a combination
of two viruses to attack and kill cancer cells, and stimulate an anti-cancer immune response in patients with advanced tumours.
Nathan Magarvey’s Grant A group of international researchers,
led by Dr. Magarvey, received $1.5 million from CIHR to discover and
develop natural antibiotics for treating drug resistant bacteria.
Gerry Wright’s Tier 1 CRC Dr. Wright's Tier 1 Canada
Research Chair in Molecular Studies of Antibiotics renewed. He will
use his Chair to continue his innovative research on the origin and
evolution of antibiotic resistance.
Keystone Symposium Drs. Wright, Brown and Burrows were
among the featured speakers who gathered in Tahoe City, CA, for
the 2015 Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Over 150 international experts attended the conference to discuss
strategies for addressing the critical issue of antibiotic resistance.
Dr. Matthew Miller lead author Dr. Miller, along with a team
of researchers from the U.S., discovered that a protein associated
with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) plays a key role in the
body’s natural antiviral response. Their work – which offers new
insight into the link between neurodegenerative disorders and
inflammation – was published in Nature Immunology.
Dr. Matthew Miller – 2015 laureate for the Bhagirath Singh
Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity
Dr. Miller ranked first in the 2015 Canadian Institutes of
Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grants competition for new
investigators in the fields of infection and immunity with his
research project titled “Understanding the generation and
protective functions on broadly-neutralizing humoral immune
responses against influenza A virus.”