null Extraordinary $15-million gift will create unique powerhouse initiative to fight infections

Partnership will bring together over 250 researchers under the newly created McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity

Apr 26, 2018

A $15-million gift from the visionary Montreal-based Doggone Foundation will launch the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity, a unique and highly collaborative endeavour that will harness the scientific expertise, resources and creativity of researchers at McGill, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and affiliated research partners in the battle against infectious and immune-related diseases.

McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) will each receive $7.5 million for the project.

This initiative will bring together more than 250 investigators from McGill University and its affiliated hospitals and research centres to develop innovative solutions to infectious and immune threats to human health – and translate those discoveries from the lab to patients and hospitals across Canada, and globally.

“We are deeply grateful to the Doggone Foundation for this extraordinary gift,” says McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier. “It allows us to draw on the broader McGill community’s intrinsic research strengths and mobilize our efforts around these complex health challenges.”

“Together, the MUHC, RI-MUHC and McGill have the experience, curiosity, network, and drive to accomplish enormous good,” adds Martine Alfonso, Interim President and Executive Director of the MUHC. “This exciting initiative will help assure that the right platforms and tools are in place so that our experts may continue to collaborate on solutions to some of the world’s most pressing health issues.”

Four major themes

Infectious diseases are a leading cause of mortality worldwide and pose an ongoing threat due to uncontrolled epidemics and rising drug and antibiotic resistance. However, advances in our understanding of the immune system have opened the door for scientists to develop new ways to reprogram our natural defences against infections. 

The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity’s efforts will revolve around four major themes: antimicrobial resistance, emerging and re-emerging diseases, infections in vulnerable populations, and diseases of altered immunity. Each theme will be broken down into three areas: fundamental discoveries, diagnostics and solutions such as new vaccines and immunotherapies.

“We think that the ambition and creativity of this network of scientists is the secret to success – and there’s a need for it now,” says Dr. Don Sheppard, Director in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the MUHC and at McGill University, and professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Sheppard, who is also a scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the RI-MUHC, will head up this new initiative.

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