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Infection and Immunity

Ciriaco Piccirillo, PhD
Marcel Behr, MD, MSc

The Infection and Immunity Axis is a large, multidisciplinary group that encompasses the rapidly expanding fields of immunology, host defence, autoimmunity and atopic disorders, such as asthma and eczema. These programs are representative of the complexity of our research effort spanning a broad range of microbial targets and human hosts as well as geographical areas.

Many factors make the research conducted by this axis ever more relevant in today's world; changes in Canadian and Quebec immigration policies, increases in international movement of livestock and consumables, significant expansion of overseas travel, commerce and studies, and global warming, have contributed to increased risk from infectious diseases which kill millions of people every year.

Axis investigators continue to focus on major emerging pathogens and international concerns, including malaria, salmonella, measles, tuberculosis, leishmania, mycobacteria and leprosy. Elucidation of the microbiological underpinnings of idiopathic and so-called immune conditions, are an increasing feature of this work. Advanced studies of the host response to HIV, and studies of HIV co-pathogens, logically fall into this axis. Axis researchers use advanced genomic, microarray and proteomic tools in both animal models and human disease to discover determinants of pathogenicity and host response.

Research within this theme will continue to expand through the detailed study of large clinical cohorts including inflammatory conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Such cohort building is a particular expertise of the Research Institute of the MUHC and is a cornerstone for high-impact studies.