IDIGH  |  Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program

Leadership and Management

The Management Committee of the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program (IDIGH) consists of representatives from all three pillars of the program (fundamental, epidemiology and health outcomes, and clinical research), as well as members from outside the program and research trainees. The committee meets three or four times a year to address issues and discuss strategies and action points that move the IDIGH program toward its objective of becoming a leading centre for translational research in infectious and immune-mediated diseases of global importance.

Management representatives
Erwin Schurr, PhD (Program Leader)
Dr. Marcel Behr (Associate Program Leader)
Dr. Alexandra de Pokomandy (Associate Program Leader)
Éric Béliveau, PhD (Program Manager)

Representatives of fundamental research
Nicole Bernard, PhD
Ciriaco Piccirillo, PhD

Representatives of epidemiology and health outcomes research
Theresa Gyorkos, PhD
Dr. Marina Klein
Dr. Madhukar Pai

Representatives of clinical research
Dr. Don Sheppard
Dr. Marcel Behr

Representatives of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows
Lauren Nagel (co-chair of the IDIGH trainee committee)
Tho-Alfakar Al-Aubodah (co-chair of the IDIGH trainee committee)

External (non-IDIGH program) member
Maziar Divangahi, PhD


Program leaders and manager
Erwin Schurr, PhD, obtained his doctorate from the Institute of Biophysics and Radiation Biology at the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg/Br, Germany. He then completed postdoctoral studies in molecular genetics at McGill University. In 1991, he joined the McGill Centre for the Study of Host Resistance and the Faculty of Medicine as Assistant Professor. He is now a James McGill Professor of Human Genetics and Medicine at McGill University, and the leader of the program on Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Dr. Schurr's main research area is the identification of host genetic factors predisposing to mycobacterial disease, work that is supported by both national and international funding agencies. He has published extensively on the identification of genetic host susceptibility factors in both leprosy and tuberculosis. His current research focuses on the genetic control of inflammatory disorders and the role of microbial triggers employing system-based approaches.

Marcel Behr, MD, M.Sc., is a professor of medicine at McGill University, director of the McGill International TB Centre, and microbiologist-in-chief at the McGill University Health Centre. His training included a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Toronto, an MD from Queen's University, residency training in infectious diseases and medical microbiology at McGill, a master's degree in epidemiology from McGill, and post-doctoral studies in molecular epidemiology and bacterial genomics at Stanford University. Dr. Behr's research interest applies bacterial genetics to study the epidemiology and pathogenesis of mycobacterial diseases. Specifically, he studies M. tuberculosis, the cause of tuberculosis (TB); Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG), the vaccine used against TB; and non-tuberculous mycobacteria, including members of the M. avium-intracellulare complex. This work has been recognized by numerous awards, in Quebec (National Researcher of the Fonds de recherche en santé–Québec) and beyond (election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2010). His work is funded by operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Génome Québec and the National Institutes of Health.

Alexandra de Pokomandy, MDCM, M.Sc., associate professor and co-director of Research in the Family Medicine Department of McGill University, is also a clinician-scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and provides primary and specialized care to people living with HIV at the Chronic Viral Illness Service of the McGill University Health Centre. Her research focuses on preventing comorbidities related to viral diseases in marginalized populations, particularly for people living with HIV, and on cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV). She is also interested in women's health and integrated primary care for people living with HIV and has strong experience in using patient engagement approaches in research. Her work as a physician and researcher aims to recognize patient health concerns and make improvements to clinical practices that will benefit individuals who suffer most from inequities and stigma.

Éric Béliveau, PhD, holds a doctorate in pharmacology from Université de Sherbrooke, where he investigated the functional properties of receptors. He then pursued his training at Université Laval and the Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec, where he coordinated a collaborative research project to develop antibodies targeting the brain and nanoparticles with therapeutic and imaging capabilities. In the past 15 years he has developed diversified research expertise in cell-based models, murine models, human samples, and bioinformatics for high throughput experiments. He has participated in numerous collaborative projects involving profit companies, technology transfer, grant writing and event management.