Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR)
Kryptonite for superbugs: Scientists unearth what may be a secret weapon in the urgent battle against antibiotic-resistance
HAMILTON, ON, June 25, 2014—A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat.
A team of researchers led by McMaster University has discovered a fungus-derived molecule, known as AMA, which is able to disarm one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistance genes: NDM-1 or New Delhi Metallo-beta-Lactamase-1, identified by the World Health Organization as a global public health threat.
“This is public enemy number one,” explains Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.
“It came out of nowhere, it has spread everywhere and has basically killed our last resource of antibiotics, the last pill on the shelf, used to treat serious infections,” he says.
Mark Loeb receives March of Dimes life time achievement award
Dr. Mark Loeb, professor, in the departments of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Medicine, and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics has received The Jonas Salk Award, a lifetime achievement award from the March of Dimes of Canada.
The award recognizes Loeb’s significant contribution in infectious disease research, its prevention in frail elderly persons and people with disabilities, and his most recent work related to polio and immune therapy. He will be presented with the award and a personal financial tribute of $10,000 at a reception on June 12 in Toronto.
The Jonas Salk Award is presented annually to a Canadian scientist, physician or researcher who has made a new and outstanding contribution in science or medicine to prevent, alleviate or eliminate a physical disability.
Antibiotic-Resistant Germs, Lying in Wait Everywhere
The Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico is a network of chambers stretching 1,600 feet underground. The bacteria that grow on the walls of its most remote recesses have been living in complete isolation for more than four million years.
In 2010, Gerry Wright, a microbiologist at McMaster University in Ontario, ran an experiment on those long-lost bacteria. He and his colleagues doused them with antibiotics, the drugs that doctors have used for the past 70 years to wipe out bacterial infections. Read more...
UBC antimicrobial pioneer elected to American National Academy of Sciences
UBC microbiologist Julian Davies has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
He is among 21 foreign associates from 15 countries elected to the prestigious Academy today in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in research.
The Davies lab searches for antibiotics from a variety of natural sources, these include bacteria isolated from soils, sediments, clays, mushrooms and lichens. Read more...
Drug-resistant 'superbugs' now a global threat, says WHO
McMaster biochemistry professor Joaquin Ortega and student Bilal Ahsa, members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, are involved in a medical research project reminiscent of the 1960s movie Fantastic Voyage. Read more in the Hamilton Spectator.
Bowdish lab and Miami Mice collaborate on early screening of lung cancer
Researchers in the Bowdish lab are hoping to bridge bench to bedside cancer research through a new collaboration with Miami Mice, a cutting-edge biotechnology company that develops genetically modified mice, – called "mouse models" – to identify and develop early markers for lung cancer and leukemia.
Dawn Bowdish, assistant professor, Pathology & Molecular Medicine and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), is collaborating with Corrinne Lobe, founder and CEO of Miami Mice, to develop a new diagnostic for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among men and women.
Two members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research are among 11 McMaster researchers awarded Early Researcher Awards (ERA) from the Province of Ontario.
Dawn Bowdish, assistant professor, pathology & molecular medicine, whose research investigates the causes of bacterial pneumonia in the elderly, and Nathan Magarvey, assistant professor, biochemistry & biomedical sciences, who is leading the delivery of safer, more effective and targeted natural drug discoveries, were among the esteemed group of researchers announced today.
Eric Brown, Jonathan Bramson named Canada Research Chairs
Eric Brown and Jonathan Bramson, members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, have been named Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs (CRC), and will receive $1.4 million over seven years to help further their research efforts. Also awarded a CRC was Megumi Harada. A Tier 2 recipient, Harada will receive $500,000 over five years.
A documentary report by Quirks & Quarks producer Jim Lebans about how researchers will cope with a world where antibiotics no longer work features Gerry Wright, Scientific Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.
Click above to listen to the podcast or visit CBC Radio online.
McMaster team wins first Synapse Life Science Competition
A McMaster University spin-off company has won a new competition for life science businesses. Advanced Theranostics Inc. took first place in the inaugural Synapse Life Science Competition this week.
The winning presentation was about a solution to the need for faster, more sensitive lab diagnostics for infectious diseases through a DNA swab, a hand-held device and a mobile app.
It’s supposed to be a simple household task, meant to divert organic material from the landfill.
But composting is often anything but pleasant. From the hordes of fruit flies that swarm above the green bin to the compostable bin liners that inevitably dissolve, spilling slime on hands, kitchen counters and floors, composting is often a dirty, smelly job.
And that, says Morgan Wyatt, is why the world needs the Greenlid.
The simple product – a container made of compressed pulp with a reusable lid – is the brainchild of Wyatt, a McMaster post-doctoral fellow (in the lab of Nathan Magarvey, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research), and his brother Jackson. And its usefulness is summed up in its slogan: “Never clean your compost bin again.”
Microbial Communities of the Body in Health and Disease
The Hamilton Association for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art is sponsoring a free public talk on "Microbial Communities of the Body in Health and Disease" by Michael Surette, a microbiologist with the Farncombe Family Institute for Digestive Health Research and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research. His talk will take place Saturday, March 8 at 8 pm in Rm. 1A1, Ewart Angus Centre, MUMC. Q & A with coffee and cookies. No reservations required. See www.haalsa.org for more details.
Federal budget provides substantial support for university research and innovation
Finance minister Jim Flaherty unveiled the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund in Tuesday’s federal budget. It will invest $1.5 billion over the next decade for Canadian post-secondary institutions to excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.
IIDR trainee publishes “how to” guide for bioinformatics
Fiona Whelan, a graduate student in IIDR member Mike Surette’s lab, has published a review article called “A guide to bioinformatics for immunologists” in Frontiers Immunology.
“The idea of this article spawned from research that I conducted in the Bowdish lab on the elucidation of the evolutionary history and relationships between the members of the class A scavenger receptors, proteins required for host defense and homeostasis,” says Whelan.
Research in the labs of Charu Kaushic, professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and Lori Burrows, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, is set to accelerate as the result of five years of funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).
The IIDR welcomes Dominik Mertz to its membership. Mertz is a an assistant professor at McMaster, in the Division of Infectious Diseases and in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and acts as the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Hamilton Health Sciences.
His particular research interest is the epidemiology of hospital-acquired infections and of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and antimicrobial stewardship. He also teaches at the undergraduate (MD program), graduate (Health Research Methodology) and postgraduate level at McMaster.
Scientists reveal cause of one of the most devastating pandemics in human history
An international team of scientists has discovered that two of the world’s most devastating plagues – the plague of Justinian and the Black Death, each responsible for killing as many as half the people in Europe—were caused by distinct strains of the same pathogen, one that faded out on its own, the other leading to worldwide spread and re-emergence in the late 1800s.
These findings suggest a new strain of plague could emerge again in humans in the future.
“The research is both fascinating and perplexing, it generates new questions which need to be explored, for example why did this pandemic, which killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people die out?” questions Hendrik Poinar, associate professor and director of the McMaster Ancient DNA Centre and an investigator with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
Fever-reducing medications may aid spread of influenza
Contrary to popular belief, fever-reducing medication may inadvertently cause more harm than good.
New research from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research has discovered that the widespread use of medications that contain fever-reducing drugs may lead to tens of thousands more influenza cases, and more than a thousand deaths attributable to influenza, each year across North America. These drugs include ibuprofen, acetaminophen and acetylsalicylic acid.
Working with a more than 160-year-old sample of preserved intestine, researchers at McMaster University and the University of Sydney have traced the bacterium behind a global cholera pandemic that killed millions – a version of the same bug that continues to strike vulnerable populations in the world’s poorest regions.
Using sophisticated techniques, the team has mapped the entire genome of the elusive 19th century bacterium. The findings are significant because, until now, researchers had not identified the early strains of cholera, a water-borne pathogen. The discovery significantly improves understanding of the pathogen’s origin and creates hope for better treatment and possible prevention.
Ortega lab demonstrates power of electron microscopy
Joaquin Ortega and his team recently published two papers that show the power of electron microscopy to understand the workings of cellular enzymes.
“This is essential information needed to develop for example new antibiotics or to understand why cancer cells continuously divide and cause tumors”, says Ortega, a structural biologist with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
In the journalScience News, award-winning news correspondent Ann Gibbons tells the tale of researchers who have opened a remarkable window into centuries of health and disease in Europe, from the Black Death of the 14th Century to a cholera epidemic in the 19th, at the Abbey of St. Peter in Lucca, Italy.
The researchers, led by Giuseppe Vercellotti and Clark Larson from Ohio State University and Hendrik Poinar from McMaster University's MG DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, are analyzing skeletons, teeth and ancient DNA from graveyards around the Abbey in order to learn how epidemics such as the bubonic plague spread through Europe. The Abbey lay along an early pilgrimage route, where knights, clerics, monks and peasants -- as well as pathogens -- all congregated.
Secrets in the Bones: The Hunt for the Black Death Killer
It was called the Black Death, a disease that started with the spitting of blood and ended in just days with blackened extremities, delirium and death. In the 14th century it swept across Europe wiping out half the population, one of the most lethal killers in human history.
But for more than 660 years the cause of the Black Death has eluded scientists. Now, Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary biologist based at Hamilton’s McMaster University and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, leads an international team on an epic quest from a Black Death gravesite in Italy, to a top secret government laboratory in the United States, to a repository holding more than 20,000 sets of human remains in London. His goal: Capture the Black Death killer and unlock the secrets of this deadly disease, secrets that could help us fight infectious diseases today and, potentially, save lives.
Coombes’ lab collaborates with Qu Biologics to study new Crohn’s disease research model
Brian Coombes, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University, will lead a new study with Qu Biologics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in Vancouver, British Columbia, to investigate new treatments for Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that inflicts more than 100,000 Canadians.
Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, is featured on the latest episode of CBC's Marketplace entitled "Food Secrets." In the episode, Wright talks about his unfortunate contact with antibiotic-resistant salmonella and his work in the lab to fight these and other superbugs.
Combining chemotherapy with herpes can help fight cancer, McMaster study finds
Combining chemotherapy with a herpes virus is showing promise in killing cancer cells and tumours in mice, two complimentary McMaster University studies found.
Led by Sam Workenhe, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Karen Mossman, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and member of the McMaster Immunology Research Center, the research is published in Molecular Therapy and Cancer Immunology Research.
New Biosafety Level 3 facility catapults infectious disease research
A new $3.5-million Biosafety Level 3 laboratory is catapulting McMaster University onto the global map with specialized lab space that supports research on infectious disease and the world’s most deadly pathogens.
With dedicated animal facilities, a state-of-the-art flow cytometry facility and ample space for current and future projects, the recently opened lab will allow researchers to conduct research at a new level.
How safe is your drinking water? Speaker series tackles perplexing problems
Saving lives by making water safe, the art of planet hunting and the magic of nano-magnets are among the research topics being explored by Ontario’s top researchers as McMaster kicks off this year’s speaker series, Research Matters.
John Brennan, Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry and Biointerfaces at McMaster, will reflect on the most basic human necessity - safe drinking water - at the event being held Monday, Nov. 4 between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Rd. S.
A documentary on Frontline called "Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria" investigates the rise of deadly drug-resistant bacteria and drying pipeline of novel antimicrobial discovery.
Click here to watch the October 22 episode online.
IIDR celebrates its trainees
The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research celebrated the diverse talents of its trainees and postdoctoral fellows at the third annual Trainee Research Day held on Friday, Oct. 18.
Researchers at McMaster University are addressing the crisis in drug resistance with a novel approach to find new antibiotics.
“We have developed technology to find new antibiotics using laboratory conditions that mimic those of infection in the human body,” said Eric Brown, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences.
He is the lead author of the paper published in the online edition of Nature Chemical Biology. Brown is also a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR).
Michael Surette, a researcher with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, is featured on CTV News in a segment that explores the use of fecal transplants to treat inflammatory bowel diseases. While studies show that fecal bacteria may help with obesity and depression, he warns about the risks of infection. Click here to watch the video.
An earlier segment on CTV featured a McMaster study that involved 120 participants suffering from ulcerative colitis who receive fecal material from specially screened donors. "In this trial, unfortunately it’s not 100 per cent successful," said Surette, who is studying the dozens of bugs found in the stool samples from donors. "We are starting to analyze some of the microbiology, and I think we will have some information on what’s effective and what’s not."
A tuberculosis vaccine developed at McMaster University offers new hopes for the global fight against tuberculosis.
“We are the first to have developed such a vaccine for tuberculosis,” said Dr. Fiona Smaill, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster. She led the phase one clinical study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Michael Kamin Hart Scholarship propels thirst for research
Brian Tuinema, a first-year PhD student in the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, has a thirst for science not unlike that demonstrated in Michael Hart, a promising second-year Master’s student in former IIDR member Justin Nodwell’s lab, who passed away after a courageous battle with lymphoma in 2011.
McMaster researchers discover new microbe near Chilean coastal faultline
A team of researchers from McMaster and the University of Concepción are shining a light on rare sulfur-loving microbes off the coast of Chile.
The group's work near coastal fault lines has identified a previously unknown type of molecule, macplocimine A, whichproduces valuable natural chemicals that are known to function as effective cancer therapies and antibiotics.
McMaster University researchers are using a new approach to discover antibiotic-resistant drugs at a time when other scientists are quickly running out of options. Researchers in the Brown and Bowdish laboratories in the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research targeted the cell membranes of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a bacteria responsible for increasing the number of life-threatening infections both in the hospital and the broader community.
The research, entitled Collapsing the proton motive force to identify novel synergistic combinations against Staphylococcus aureus, appears in today’s online edition of Chemistry & Biology.
Antibiotic resistant bugs kill thousands yearly in U.S.
For the first time, the U.S. government is estimating how many people die from drug-resistant bacteria each year — more than 23,000, or about as many as those killed annually by flu.
The figure was released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to spotlight the growing threat of germs that are hard to treat because they've become resistant to drugs.
Finally estimating the problem sends "a very powerful message," said Dr. Helen Boucher, a Tufts University expert and spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "We're facing a catastrophe."
Researchers find weather patterns play significant role in seasonal influenza
Influenza is like a cloud, moving across Canada with the fall weather, McMaster University researchers have found.
They have established that the spread of seasonal flu in Canada is tied to low temperature and low humidity and travels west to east, findings that may have significant implications on prioritizing control measures such as the timing of introducing vaccination programs across the country.
IIDR members and trainees are encouraged to attend the McMaster World Sepsis Day Symposium on Friday, September 13th in the Great Hall in the McMaster University Faculty Club.
This full-day symposium coincides with World Sepsis Day and will include a variety of sessions and panel discussions that will be interactive and inter-professional. The objective of the day is to facilitate knowledge exchange among interdisciplinary and inter-professional health care providers and researchers. Common themes identified through symposium discussions will help catalyze development of collaborative pediatric sepsis research and/or quality improvement initiatives.
McMaster researchers receive breast cancer funding
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is building on its commitment to fund high quality research across the breast cancer continuum, by investing $8.4 million in projects across Ontario, including grants to both Ali Ashkar, member of McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and Jessica Cockburn, a post-doctoral fellow in McMaster's Department of Oncology.
For many researchers, a love for science sparked early: some found inspiration through their parents or a teacher, others were bitten after seeing something inventive on television, while others were born with it. For Eisha Ahmed, a 17-year-old high school student working in the labs of IIDR researchers Dawn Bowdish and Mike Surette this summer, the passion was evident from an early age when she pinned insects to Styrofoam to study their intricate inner workings.
Bowdish lab starts preclinical trials on study of chronic inflammation associated with macrophage dysfunction
Dawn Bowdish, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and member of the McMaster Institute for Infectious Disease Research and McMaster Immunology Research Centre, will collaborate with Qu Biologics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company located in Vancouver, British Columbia, to research the effect of SSI therapy on macrophage immune dysfunction. Qu Biologics will test whether its SSI therapy can reduce or eliminate chronic inflammation related to macrophage dysfunction.
Ryan Lamers, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Lori Burrows, Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences Professor and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, was awarded a two-year CIHR Postdoctoral Fellowship in the most recent competition.
The award recognizes his work on peptidoglycan metabolism and antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. He adds this to his Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship (2013) and a Cystic Fibrosis Canada Fellowship (2013-15).
Registration has opened for the third annual Trainee Research Day hosted by the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, which will take place Oct. 18 from 9 am to 6 pm in the CIBC Hall, Rm. 319 of the McMaster University Student Centre.
During this full-day event, IIDR graduate students and postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to present their innovative research and network with researchers and peers through oral and poster presentations. Two $1,000 Gulliver Prizes for best graduate and postdoctoral submissions will be awarded and the winner of the Michael Kamin Hart Memorial Scholarship will give an oral presentation.
The IIDR Trainee Day is sponsored by Fisher Scientific, FEI/SFR, Invitrogen, Biorad, Edge Scientific, VWR, Dlamed and the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
Behaviour change may have greatest influence on waves of influenza outbreak
Three waves of the deadliest influenza pandemic in history, known as the Spanish flu, hit England and Wales in 1918, just as World War 1 was coming to an end.
Why flu arrives in multiple waves like this is the focus of a study by McMaster University researchers who discovered three contributing factors: the closing and opening of schools, temperature changes and – most importantly – changes in human behavior.
“We found all three factors were important in 1918 but that behavioural responses had the largest effect,” said David Earn, an investigator with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, and a professor in McMaster’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Peer review examines role of antibiotics in nature
Steve Bernier, a postdoctoral researcher working in the lab of Michael Surette, investigator with McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, joined leading researchers from around the globe to review literature associated with the role of antibiotics in nature. The review is published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology (Research topic – Antimicrobials, Resistance and Chemotherapy).
Top career award recognizes global impact of antibiotic resistance research
In a career devoted to combating antibiotic resistance and seeking ways to overcome infectious disease, Gerry Wright has made a mark. This week he is being recognized for his impact with a top career award presented annually by the Canadian Society of Microbiologists (CSM).
It is another accolade to add to the scientific director of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research’s lengthy biography, which includes more than 180 papers and book chapters, countless awards and affiliations with some of the world’s most influential institutions.
Researchers dig deep into Cystic Fibrosis drug resistance
Researchers are beginning to better understand antibiotic resistance in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) patients, by investigating multiple strains of isolates taken from those inflicted with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the primary pathogen that causes chronic lung infections.
The finding comes from the lab of Michael Surette, investigator with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and Canada Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research, and could have significant implications for antibiotic therapy.
This summer, the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) is boosting research experience for 12 trainees working in the labs of its members and affiliated institutions.
The IIDR has presented nine fellowships to trainees working in IIDR labs as well as three joint fellowships to students working jointly with IIDR members and researchers in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.
McMaster University researchers are breaking ground in mining the fruits of the genome revolution by developing the world’s first one-stop shopping resource to collate the scores of data associated with antibiotic resistance accumulated since the first bacterial genome sequence more than 15 years ago.
McMaster University investigators have opened up a new area of research in the study of Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that afflicts over 100,000 Canadians, one of the highest rates worldwide.
Led by Brian Coombes, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), his group has been studying a variant of E. coli called adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) that is associated with human Crohn’s Disease. In their new work, Coombes’ group developed a new mouse model that showed that Crohn’s-associated E. coli could cause chronic infection in the mouse gut. Interestingly, after infection the mice developed chronic gut inflammation that resembled that seen in human Crohn’s Disease. This new model will allow researchers to understand the effects of chronic colonization on the host immune system and how this might play a role in disease development.
Congratulations to the many trainees from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research who won awards at the 2013 Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Research Plenary, as well as to Ali Ashkar, Associate Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, who received the FHS Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision Award.
New therapies show signs of turning immune system into cancer-fighting weapon
Jonathan Bramson, director of McMaster’s Immunology Research Centre and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, is hopeful new immunotherapy medications designed to trigger the body’s immune system, allowing it to fight the cancer on its own, are just the beginning of what could be a powerful way to activate the immune system against cancer.
“We’re seeing seen remarkable outcomes and evidence of what we long believed: that the immune system can fight cancer,” he tells CTV News. “I’ve been a scientist in this area for 20 odd years, and much of the promise has come from animal studies. To be living in an era where we have evidence the immune system can treat cancer, it’s a very exciting time.” (Files from CTV News)
In 2007, having just completed a thesis project in virology in the lab of Karen Mossman, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and Pathology and Molecular Medicine Professor, Nicole Robbins was en route to becoming a virologist at the University of Toronto. Along the way her passions changed and this year she returned to the Wright lab with a new focus.
Study suggests alternate methods of TB vaccination
A new study by researchers from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research suggests the importance of studying both innate and adaptive arms of host defense in TB vaccine research.
Researchers with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) have opened doors to better understand the assembly process of the ribosome, by making a new observation that may significantly impact the way scientists target bacteria.
“In this work we studied the last stages of maturation of the bacterial ribosome, the enzyme that synthesizes proteins in the cells,” explains Joaquin Ortega, associate professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, about a paper published this month in RNA. His team involved researcher Vivian Leong and graduate students Meredith Kent and Ahmad Jomaa.
Antibiotic resistance is a worsening problem for us, but a natural and ancient phenomenon, argues Gerard Wright in a Question and Answer article published today inBMC Biology. The inevitable emergence and spread of resistance in human pathogens can only be met by the development of new drugs, yet there are few new antibiotics coming to market or in clinical trials. It can take up to a decade to bring a new drug from the lab to the pharmacy, so the problem is likely to exist for some time to come.
Through the Leaders Opportunity Fund from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, McMaster biochemists Alba Guarné and Murray Junop, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, have created a state-of-the-art crystallization and diffraction facility.
By integrating tools and technologies – from genomics to small molecules – to target drugs from nature, investigator Nathan Magarvey is helping build a culture of innovation at McMaster University.
As a result, Magarvey, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry & Chemical Biology, has been named McMaster’s Innovator of the Year.
Trainees from the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research are embracing the spirit of collaboration.
A team of approximately 20 trainees from a diverse range of labs, including academic supervisors Nathan Magarvey, professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry & Chemical Biology and Mike Surette, professor in the Department of Medicine and Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, will compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition on Oct. 4-6 in Toronto.
Faculty of Health Sciences celebrates its students
Faculty of Health Science graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are being celebrated this week during an annual Research Plenary, an open forum event that includes more than 400 poster and oral presentations.
The event is being held from May 14-16 in the Health Sciences library and winning posters will be on display in the Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion the afternoon of Thursday, May 23, followed by an awards reception.
Pictured during the opening poster session, from left, are first-year PhD students Brian Tuinema (Coombes lab) and Fiona Whelan (Surette lab).
Hendrik Poinar, an assistant professor in McMaster's Department of Anthropology and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, believes that ancient DNA holds the answers to a host of major scientific questions: Did the first peoples come to North America in a single migration, or several? What were the pre-Columbian diseases on this continent? Were there dietary differences between the sexes in archaic hunter-gatherer populations?
Lab discovers path to extreme antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonasaeruginosa
Combining two mutations in non-essential genes can lead to extreme antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the leading causes of hospital-inquired infections.
These findings come from a new study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, led by Lori Burrows, McMaster biochemistry professor and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and her trainees Joseph Cavallari and Ryan Lamers.
IIDR members David Earn, professor of mathematics and statistics, and Eric Brown, professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry at McMaster, joined a recent TEDx McMaster U panel to discuss "Visualizing and modelling contagion" and "Taking on superbugs with new insights into uncharted biology", respectively.
An article in the Toronto Star this week talks about how resistance to antibiotics is growing and drug companies are doing little to respond. Some scientists, including Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University, warn of deadly consequences. (Source: The Toronto Star)
Antibiotic progress on superbugs called 'alarmingly slow'
Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, comments on CBC News about a recent Infectious Diseases Society of America progress review on the development of new drugs, which found only two new antibiotics had been approved since 2009.
"We have spent several years hunting around Canada and around the world to isolate new bacteria and pull out from them as many compounds as we can," Wright says in the article.
Wright is using new technology that can screen hundreds of compounds at the same time. He hopes it will speed up the challenging search. (Source: CBC News)
The University officially opened the Biointerfaces Institute, Canada's first facility for developing unique new surfaces, using high-speed robots and other leading-edge technology. IIDR member John Brennan, professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry and Biointerfaces, will lead a team of 10 core faculty members.
IIDR member Fred Capretta, Associate Director of the Biointerfaces Institute, talks about the the facility's capabilities in the video below, including the ability to develop materials such as hospital doorknobs that can repel bacteria, bandages that can heal wounds, home test kits for cholesterol and contact lenses that rarely need changing.
Fred Capretta comments on CHCH about ricin letters in US
IIDR member Fred Capretta, an associate professor of Chemistry, comments on CHCH about two letters - one intended for the president, another for a U.S. senator - and a mail screening facility that have all tested positive for ricin.
Vaccines: Truths & Myths
Vaccines save lives. In fact, they save millions of lives a year and prevent diseases like polio, measles and mumps from making a dangerous comeback. Yet, childhood immunizations continue to be avoided by many people around the world for fear that they overwhelm the immune system, cause autism and contain dangerous preservatives.
Community members are invited to join in a lively and informal discussion to help sort the facts from fiction with leading experts from McMaster University’s Immunology Research Centre and the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
The free event, titled Vaccines: Truths & Myths, will take place April 29 from 7-9 pm at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
McMaster celebrates Royal Society of Canada Fellows
Over the last five decades, 80 members of McMaster’s research community have earned one of the country’s highest academic accolades available to leading intellectuals, scholars, researchers and artists – election to a Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada (RSC).
Gerry Wright, Scientific Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, joined this esteemed group in 2012 and was honoured at a recent event celebrating McMaster’s Fellows of the RSC, hosted by President Patrick Deane and Vice-President, Research & International Affairs, Mo Elbestawi.
IIDR member and McMaster evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar speaks about bringing the woolly mammoth back to life during a TEDx Conference on DeExtinction in Washington on March 15.
Drug rocks the boat
A ‘gold-standard’ drug has been found to have a secondary mode of action, as not only does it inhibit antibiotic efflux pumps, responsible for pumping toxic substances and antibiotics out of the cell and major contributors to multi-drug resistance, but also punches holes in membranes, causing resistance enzymes to leak out.
Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences Professor Lori Burrows, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and her postdoctoral researcher Ryan Lamers, recently discovered that Phenylalanine-Arginine Beta-Naphthylamide (PAbN) can punch holes in bacterial membranes, causing resistance enzymes normally found inside the bacteria to leak out and rendering the bacteria more susceptible, independent of efflux inhibition.
Undergraduate Student Research Awards push interest in science
Two undergraduate students in the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research have received Undergraduate Student Research Awards through the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, allowing them to continue to work alongside their mentors over the summer months.
Gerry Wright, Scientific Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, commentates in the Toronto Star about the ongoing threat of antibiotic resistance and need for urgent action.
His commentary follows the Ontario Medical Association report titled “When Antibiotics Stop Working,” (see story below) calling on the provincial and federal governments to address this growing crisis of antibiotic resistance while there is still time.
Ontario's doctors: antibiotic resistance poses major threat to public health
On March 20, 2013 the Ontario Medical Association released a report titled "When Antibiotics Stop Working," with recommendations about how government and the health community should respond to antibiotic resistance. Ontario’s doctors warn that the over-use of medicines weakens doctors' ability to save human lives and they call on federal and provincial governments to immediately enact regulatory changes that will help to reverse this threat by reducing the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The doctors know what they’re talking about in warning against overuse of antibiotics, says Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research. He says antibiotic resistant bacteria are being found everywhere, even in dirt.
“As a society we’re are not used to finding that what did cure people doesn’t work anymore. These recommendations of the physicians are important to raise awareness of how we all need to respond now, as we search out new ways to fight antibiotic resistance.”
The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) recognized two promising young scientists during the recent Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair.
Eisha Ahmed, a Grade 12 student of Abbey Park High School in Oakville, was the first place winner of the IIDR prize that recognized the best senior project in infectious disease, drug discovery or human health. The second place IIDR winner was Junyi (Sarah) Wu, who won the overall BASEF prize. Wu is from Assumption College School, Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board.
The IIDR prizes were judged and selected by members Dawn Bowdish and Karen Mossman, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, respectively
More than 400 students took part in the 53rd annual fair at Hillfield Strathallan College and Mohawk College.
Click here to read the coverage in the Hamilton Specator.
(Photo courtesy Wayne Bowdish)
Biochemistry researcher racks up awards
The awards continue to mount for Ryan Lamers, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Lori Burrows, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and biochemistry professor.
Lamers was recently awarded a two-year Cystic Fibrosis Canada Fellowship, and the 2013/14 Cystic Fibrosis Canada-Kin in Canada Fellowship, an honorary award given to the highest ranked applicant in the competition. The award follows a Michael G. DeGroote Fellowship Award, considered one of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences most prestigious awards.
Nathan Magarvey, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and assistant professor of Biochemsitry and Biomedical Sciences, has been awarded a new Canada Research Chair.
As Canada Research Chair in Natural Product Drug Discovery (Tier 2) Magarvey will use a number of integrated tools and technologies – from genomics to small molecules – to target drugs from nature. His focus will be to mine these natural source materials for new bioactive compounds, so they can be produced into a more efficacious and targeted therapy for diseases.
Former IIDR trainee Herlinder Takhar has published a paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry describing the characterization of a critical component of the motor that powers bacterial “twitching” motility through retraction of fibers called type IV pili.
The paper, by the recent Masters student in the lab of Lori Burrows, biochemistry professor and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, resolves a debate about which protein connects the cytoplasmic enzymes that provide the energy for movement to the rest of the pilus assembly system.
Takhar held a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship. She is now working as a Supply Center Specialist with Life Technologies.
(Photo: Takhar, left, with her former supervisor Lori Burrows)
Public health role in controlling infectious disease outbreaks focus of panel discussion
Common viral infections such as a cold or the flu are something we all have to deal with in everyday life, and most of the time are not cause for alarm. However, some viral infections, such as HIV and particular strains of influenza, can become extremely dangerous or even fatal.
With our increasingly mobile society, the risk of outbreaks of infectious diseases that can create global health threats, such as happened with SARS and H1N1, has led to an increased emphasis on public health policy as it relates to controlling pandemics.
National Geographic News asked Hendrik Poinar, a molecular evolutionary geneticist and biological anthropologist at the Ancient DNA Centre at McMaster University and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, if we might soon see the gigantic land mammals roaming the steppe again. Poinar will speak about the emerging technology at the TEDx Conference on DeExtinction in Washington on March 15.
David M. Shlaes, an international expert in the field of antimicrobial resistance research, has joined the External Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR).
The Scientific Advisory Board consists of accomplished and distinguished members of the scientific community considered internationally respected leaders in infectious disease and antimicrobial research.
Popular drug faces resistance in a common fungal pathogen
Resistance has taken another victim, this time one of the world’s most common antifungal medications used to treat upper-respiratory illness and air-born allergens.
The drugs, called triazoles, have been shown to be ineffective against a common fungal pathogen called Aspergillus fumigatus in several parts of India. Researchers have determined that the most likely cause for the origin and spread of the resistance is the heavy application of agricultural fungicides.
Researchers create novel approach to identify chemicals bacteria "see"
Researchers from McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research have devised a new way to identify the molecules, including antibiotics, that bacteria sense.
Developed by Leslie Cuthbertson, a postdoctoral fellow working with Justin Nodwell, Professor of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, the new process predicts chemicals recognized by members of an important family of transcription factors, called “the TetR family”. They incorporated more than 4,000 proteins to create a framework for identifying these chemical/protein interactions. They then used this framework to successfully identify an antibiotic molecule for a transcription factor of unknown function, showing that the gene regulated in response to this antibiotic encodes a novel antibiotic resistance protein.
His original plans had more to do with sonatas and concert halls than science.
“I wanted to be a concert pianist when I was a little kid,” says Justin Nodwell, Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) at McMaster University. “In fact, I was sure that was what I was going to do until I was 14. I took lessons and exams and all that sort of thing; my heroes were Glenn Gould and a bunch of dead composers. It really was my life. And then I bombed the Collegiate II piano exam at McGill and decided it was all over.”
From studying the effects of Vitamin D supplements as a way to prevent influenza to understanding the assembly process of the ribosome as a target for new antibiotics, the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research is set to make exciting new scientific discoveries in 2013.
Five projects have been selected for seed funding in 2013, including projects by members Mark Loeb, David Earn and Ben Bolker and Eric Brown and Joaquin Ortega, Hendrik Poinar and James Mahoney.
Each team will present a summary of their findings at IIDR’s Annual General Meeting on April 24, 2013 at the Ancaster Mill.
Ontario Lung Association, Pfizer Canada, recognize Dawn Bowdish
Dawn Bowdish, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and researcher with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University, has been awarded the Ontario Lung Association-Pfizer Canada Infectious Diseases Award.
She was presented the $50,000 award at a recent annual fundraiser called Breathe! Gala, hosted by the Ontario Lung Association.
Gerry Wright joins American Academy of Microbiology fellowship
Gerry Wright, scientific director of McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, has been elected to the Fellowship of the American Academy of Microbiology.
The Academy, the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), recognizes excellence, originality, and creativity in the microbiological sciences. Wright will be recognized at the Academy Fellows Luncheon and Meeting at the 113th ASM General Meeting in Denver on Tuesday, May 21.
Scientists discover new small molecules that protect bacteria against toxic gold
McMaster researchers have discovered that gold resistant bacterium Delftiaacidovorans can turn toxic water-soluble gold into a solid gold form, the first demonstration that gold-resistant microbe secretes a metabolite that can protect against toxic gold.
The research, published in NatureChemicalBiology, was led by Nathan Magarvey, an investigator with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry & Chemical Biology.
Research stresses importance of broadening HIV prevention strategies
A new study that measures the importance of different routes of transmission in 18 African countries and regions provides support for an aggressive ‘test and treat’ approach which would seek to identify and offer treatment to all HIV-positive individuals in Africa.
“By investigating what can be learned about routes of heterosexual transmission in sub-Saharan Africa from large-scale survey data we found that pre-couple, within-couple and extra-couple transmission are all important,” says Jonathan Dushoff, Associate Professor of Biology at McMaster University, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, and senior author on the study released online this week by Lancet
Evolutionary geneticist and IIDR member Hendrik Poinar was featured on the CBC Radio show Q last week.
The show, a daily arts, culture and entertainment program hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, was taped Thursday night in front of a live audience at Mohawk College's McIntyre Performing Arts Centre.
Poinar, an associate professor of anthropology and director of McMaster's Ancient DNA Centre, recently made headlines when he and a team of researchers sequenced the entire genome of the Black Death. He has also mapped the genome of the wooly mammoth.
Past and present lab members of Gerry Wright, Director of the Michael G DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, celebrated 20 years of "Doing it the Wright Way," on Friday, Jan. 25.
The lab hosted a surprise symposium for Wright to mark 20 years of the Wright lab. Invited guest speakers included past students Paul Thompson, former graduate student (1993-1999) and now an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry TSRI, Scripps Florida; Ian Moore, a former post-doc (2002-2005) and now an application scientist at Applied Biosystems; Lindsay Kalan, a former PhD student (2007-2012) and now a lead research scientist at Exciton Technologies Inc.; Geoff McKay, Wright’s first graduate student (1993-1999) and now a scientist at MUHC Research Institute; and David Boehr, a former graduate student (1996-2003), and now an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at The Pennsylvania State University. Other presenters included current lab members Erin Westman and Peter Spanogiannopoulos. In his 20 years Wright has supervised 16 Ph.D students, 16 master's students and 18 post-doctoral researchers.
To view a photo slideshow from the event, click here.
Top IIDR students receive esteemed fellowship
In the lab, Ryan Lamers is on a constant quest to stay one step ahead of the third most dangerous pathogen afflicting Canadian hospitals.
“We study the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is quite prevalent in cystic fibrosis patients but is very resistant to antibiotics,” says Lamers, a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Professor Lori Burrows, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR). “My overarching goal, the reason I come in each day, is to stay ahead of the Pseudomonas pathogen that is quite opportunistic in hospitals and one of the top three pathogens that infect people in hospitals.”
Researchers find age not factor in immunity to viruses
Our immune system does not shut down with age, says a new study led by McMaster University researchers.
A study published in PLOS Pathogens today shows a specialized class of immune cells, known as T cells, can respond to virus infections in an older person with the same vigour as T cells from a young person.
“For a long time, it was thought the elderly were at a higher risk of infections because they lacked these immune cells, but that simply isn’t the case,” said Jonathan Bramson, the study’s principal investigator and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infecious Disease Research. “The elderly are certainly capable of developing immunity to viruses.”
Mushroom not main cause of mystery deaths in China: McMaster researcher
Jianping Xu is featured in CBC.ca today for his research that debunks a theory that some 400 people in southwestern China died mysterious, sudden deaths from eating a toxic mushroom.
Xu has spent the last four summers climbing mountains and slogging through forests in search of the Trogia venenata, a mushroom once suspected of causing fatal heart attacks with its high concentration of the metal barium.
'Fecal transplants' used to treat C. difficile cases in Hamilton
It's unnerving, it's invasive and it's extremely awkward to talk about, but a controversial procedure being performed at St. Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton is saving lives.
Dr. Christine Lee has been giving fecal transplants in Hamilton since 2008.
The treatment, used to treat C. difficile, involves introducing stool from a healthy donor into an infected patient's bowel, usually through an enema.
Lee, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the medical director of infection prevention and control at St. Joseph's Hospital, started using the procedure to treat C. difficile cases in patients who weren't responding to regular therapy.
“We were running out of options,” she said. So fecal transplants were implemented — and they have had a staggering effectiveness rate of around 90 per cent.
World Aids Day highlights urgency of global epidemic
An estimated 34.2 million people worldwide live with HIV, a statistic the World Health Organization hopes hit home during World Aids Day on December 1, a day meant to raise awareness about this global epidemic. The latest report released from UNAIDS contains encouraging numbers showing significant decrease in new HIV infections especially in Africa where the global effort to provide wide scale treatment is starting to show results. For latest information on UNAIDS report see http://www.unaids.org/en/
At McMaster, Charu Kaushic and Ken Rosenthal, members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and professors in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, have taken great strides in understanding HIV/AIDS.
Bowdish lab elucidates evolution of the class A scavenger receptors
Fiona Whelan, a Master's student in Dawn Bowdish's lab, has published her first manuscript “The Evolution of the class A scavenger receptors” in BMC Evolutionary Biology. The goal of the manuscript was to use evolution as a guide to discover how the class A scavenger receptor family was formed and to identify regions of conservation and hence probable functional importance for future study.
He would sometimes trek over 30 kilometers a day through mountainous terrain, inclement weather and on muddy footpaths, to find the answer to one simple question: “Was barium in wild mushrooms the cause of more than 400 unexplained deaths throughout southwest China over the past 30 years?”
The journey was so treacherous it once sent one of his co-travellers to hospital with fatigue and dehydration. But the answer McMaster biologist Jianping Xu found shatters a myth started in 2010 from a news article in the journal Science, that claimed the Trogia venenata mushroom contained high concentrations of the metal barium, causing high blood pressure, cardiac arrests and sudden deaths. The deaths mainly occurred in small villages, some of which saw nearly one-third of their population perish quickly and within very short periods of time.
Probiotics show potential to minimize C. difficile
New cases of C. difficile-associated diarrhea among hospitalized patients taking antibiotics can be reduced by two-thirds with the use of probiotics, according to new research published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
“Probiotics are not a magic bullet, but these results suggest therapeutic probiotic agents, as well as some yogurts and probiotic dairy products, may be vastly under-used in some nursing homes and hospitals,” says lead author Bradley Johnston, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and a scientist and clinical epidemiologist at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.
IIDR member Mark Loeb, professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and division director of Infectious Diseases, was co-author on the study.
Using the High Throughput Screening Lab (HTS) in the Centre for Microbial Chemical Biology (CMCB), Canadian researchers are opening new doors to the understanding of antibiotic resistance.
Two recent discoveries, published in Chemistry & Biology, provides promise in treating infections in an age of increasing antibiotic resistance. The first involved Justin Nodwell, member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) and Associate Chair, Graduate Education, Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences, and the second, former McMaster professor Christian Baron, now Professor and Chair at the University of Montreal.
The old adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” is ringing true in an age where antibiotic resistance is rampant.
Justin Nodwell’s lab has discovered that it’s not always best to fight resistance, but embrace it. His lab has revealed that by manipulating a two-step process in the biosynthesis of bacteria, it is possible to control microbial infections clinically, a finding that provides an understanding as to how and when resistance in bacteria is activated.
Study presents possibilities for drug detoxification in chemotherapy patients
Researchers with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) have made a promising discovery that puts them one step closer to curbing the side effects of chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients.
A new study, published in Chemistry & Biology, has found that non-producer soil bacteria can harbor the biological machinery required to degrade and inactivate anticancer therapeutics.
Terry Fox Foundation gives McMaster researchers $2 million
About $2 million raised from Terry Fox runs is going directly to McMaster researchers trying to harness the power of viruses to kill tumors.
The Terry Fox Foundation gave out $13.4 million to two national research teams – one studying ways to treat acute leukemias and the other researching the ability of oncolytic viruses to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy ones unharmed.
McMaster’s Brian Lichty, Jonathan Bramson and Karen Mossman (members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research) and Yonghong Wan are part of the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium led by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute getting $7.5 million of that funding over five years.
Bramson’s team will get $992,000 and Lichty’s team’s share is $950,000.
Chad Johnston felt inspired as he sat in on Michael Hart’s lecture three years ago. Hart, a second-year Master’s student in Justin Nodwell’s lab was discussing his work exploring the use of environmental microbes as sources of biologically active drug leads, an area very close to Johnston’s own research heart.
At the time, Johnston was completing his undergraduate degree at McMaster. Sadly, the next year, Hart passed away from B cell lymphoma, but through a newly established scholarship created in his memory, Johnston is carrying on a similar research quest.
Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. The designation is considered the country’s highest honour for a scholar in the arts, humanities or sciences.
Wright, a professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, joins a second McMaster recipient, Gordon Guyatt, a physician and Distinguished University Professor of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
By night he belts out Motown on his sax on the Hamilton music scene; by day he screens for inhibitors of NDM-1 in the Wright lab.
Andrew King, a first-year PhD student in the lab of Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, is adept at both. As a musician he plays in two popular Hamilton bands and as a scientist he is award winning, having recently won a $15,000 Ontario Graduate Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship that encourages excellence in graduate studies.
Federal Health Minister Leone Aglukkaq and David Sweet, MP of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough and Westdale, visited the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease (IIDR) on two separate occasions recently to tour the Institute and its laboratory facilities located within the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery.
For many undergraduate students affiliated with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), when classes end in June, the real learning begins.
This is especially true for the 10 students selected for IIDR’s inaugural Summer Student Fellowships, which provides funding for students to continue to work alongside their IIDR mentors over the summer months.
Six researchers with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) have been given an infrastructure boost from the provincial government for cutting-edge laboratory space at McMaster.
The IIDR projects, totaling $1.5 million, are among 14 from across McMaster to be awarded funding under the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation’s Ontario Research Fund Research Infrastructure Program. The new provincial investment matches federal awards from the Canada Foundation for Innovation over the last year. Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, made the announcement during a visit to McMaster’s campus on Wednesday.
MIRC partners with Biocells Biotech to develop cancer immunotherapy in China
Delegates from the McMaster Immunology Research Centre (Drs. Jonathan Bramson, Jack Gauldie and Yonghong Wan) recently traveled to Beijing and Taiyuan, China for a series of meetings to discuss partnerships to develop cancer immunotherapies in China. These meetings culminated with the signing of a memorandum of understanding that identified Biocells Biotech as MIRC's preferred partner in China. Together, MIRC scientists and Biocells scientists will work to improve Biocells' cancer therapies, including cytokine-induced killer cells and dendritic cells vaccines. Future goals aim to translate novel technologies being developed at MIRC to the Chinese market.
Two McMaster students have been given a confidence boost in their research programs after receiving Master’s Awards from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.
Not only did Amanda Lee, a first-year Master’s student in Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and Jon Stokes, a PhD candidate in Biochemistry, receive the awards that recognize students with an exceptionally high potential for future research achievement and productivity, they were ranked first and third, respectively, of 135 successful applicants across the country.
Jason Fan grew up at McMaster. As a young child he would come with his father Boguang Fan to McMaster and watch him work in the labs of the Faculty of Health Science’s Gastrointestinal Program. At age three, a passion for science had sparked.
Today, the Grade 11 student from Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, and winner of the 2012 winner of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) Research Award, is working alongside researchers learning some of the most innovative techniques in science.
When it comes to the immune system, it’s all about balance. Natural killer cells are important early responders to infection. In the case of influenza, while initially beneficial, these cells can cause damage to the lung if they are active for a prolonged period of time.
If you ask what makes her passionate, you may be surprised by the answer. “Soil-dwelling micro-organisms,” she smiles, convincingly.
Because of it, Canada’s future industrial and commercial growth looks promising, which is why McMaster PhD candidate Renée St-Onge, a student in IIDR member Marie Elliot’s lab, is most excited to receive a prestigious 2012 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. “More than anything, being awarded the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship is a tremendous honour and an unparalleled opportunity,” she says. “It will permit me to pursue my passion while contributing to our country’s industrial and economic growth.”
Five scientists with the McMaster Immunology Research Centre (MIRC) have been awarded $3 million in direct research funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.
Recipients receiving the operating grants include Ali Ashkar, Dawn Bowdish, Charu Kaushic, Karen Mossman, and Yonghong Wan, all from the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. Ashkar, Bowdish, Kaushic and Mossman are also members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
Jianping Xu, a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and Professor in the Department of Biology, received a best poster award at the 18th Congress of the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology, which took place recently in Berlin, Germany. The poster, that demonstrated a unique approach to one of world's most common nail infections, was among 12 posters recognized from more than 700 presentations .
You may be inclined to call her a scientist, but McMaster PhD student Marisa Azad, winner of a 2012 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, considers herself an artist. Whether she is home brushing strokes of paint on a canvas or in the lab synthesizing anti-microbial peptides, she is “creating art; making something magical from scratch.”
It’s a sweep for McMaster University microbiologists as winners of the two top career awards presented annually by the Canadian Society of Microbiologists.
Eric Brown, professor and chair, Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, is the recipient of the CSM Murray Award for Career Achievement, which gives national recognition to an outstanding Canadian microbiologist for key contributions to microbiological research.
American Society for Microbiology honors Patrice Courvalin
Patrice Courvalin, M.D., Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research Scientific Advisory Board, has been honored with the 2012 BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology. This award honors a distinguished scientist for research accomplishments that form the foundation for important applications in clinical microbiology.
Several students who work in the labs of members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research were present at the recent Faculty of Health Sciences Research Plenary, including Robert Gale, a master's student in Eric Brown's lab. Winners of the awards will be announced at the awards ceremony on Wednesday.
The award includes a three-day trip to Mountain View, California, for the Google Scholars Retreat in June. The retreat offers an opportunity for scholars to attend technology talks on Google products and to network.
Whelan, who studies medical science in IIDR member Dawn Bowdish's lab, is one of only 70 women around the globe and just five in Canada to be awarded the scholarship.
Zinc may shorten colds for adults, but not for kids
An analysis of 17 patient trials comparing oral zinc preparations to placebo found that sucking on the lozenges appeared to shorten the duration of the common cold by about two days. But lead author Dr. Michelle Science, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, and graduate student of Mark Loeb, coauthor and member of the Institute for Infectious Disease Research, said the review of the trials involving more than 2,100 patients did not show that using zinc alleviated the severity of symptoms. IIDR member Jennie Johnston was also a coathor of the study.
Click here to read the paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Antibiotic resistance flourishes in freshwater systems
The author Dr. Seuss may have been on to something when he imagined that microscopic communities could live and flourish on small specs of dust, barely visible to the naked eye. In fact, such vibrant communities exist – in a material with a Seussical sounding, yet scientific name called 'floc'.
McMaster University researchers have now discovered that floc – "goo-like" substances that occur suspended in water and that host large communities of bacteria – also contain high levels of antibiotic resistance.
The research was led by Lesley Warren, professor of Earth Sciences and Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, both of McMaster, along with Ian Droppo, a research scientist at Environment Canada.
Charu Kaushic, an associate professor in Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, has been awarded an Applied HIV Research Chair from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), to study heterosexual transmission of HIV in women and the impact of hormonal contraceptives use on HIV susceptibility.
McMaster University and University of Akron researchers are leading the way in understanding the origins of antibiotic resistance, a global challenge that is creating a serious threat to the treatment of infectious diseases.
Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) at McMaster University, and Hazel Barton, assistant professor of biology at the University of Akron, discovered a remarkable prevalence of antibiotic resistance bacteria isolated from Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico one of the deepest and largest caves in the world and a place isolated from human contact for more than four million years.
The research was published today (April 11, 2012) in the Journal PLoS ONE.
Infectious disease expert to present Perey Lecture
Adrian Hill, an internationally recognized infectious disease expert from the University of Oxford, will present the 27th D.Y.E. Perey Lecture, the Faculty of Health Science’s oldest, fully-endowed premier lecture.
Titled, “Tropical infectious diseases: from innate immunity to candidate vaccines,” Dr. Hill’s talk will take place on Wednesday, April 25 from 9-10 a.m. in the Health Sciences Centre Rm. 1A1.
An international team of scientists have created an innovative tool for teaching the fundamentals of epidemiology—the science of how infectious diseases move through a population.
The team teaches a workshop annually in South Africa that helps epidemiologists improve the mathematical models they use to study outbreaks of diseases like cholera, AIDS and malaria. The team created a new game as a teaching aid for the workshop and which has proven effective in demonstrating concepts of epidemiology. The game was conceived by Steve Bellan of UC Berkeley and Juliet Pulliam of U. Florida, and implemented by a team of researchers, including Jonathan Dushoff, an associate professor of biology at McMaster and member of the M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, and James Scott of Colby College; all four co-authored the paper.
The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) recognized young scientists with an eye for the innovative during the recent Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair.
Jason Fan, a Grade 11 student from Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, was the first place winner of the IIDR prize that recognized the best senior project in infectious disease, drug discovery or human health. Fan’s project involved testing ligustrazine, a drug derived from traditional Chinese medicine. He examined if ligustrazine would be a valuable therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease by protecting neurons from cell death caused by oxidative stress. He performed his research under the guidance of Dr. Margaret Fahnestock, Professor, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University.
The federal government committed to provide additional resources to support advanced research at universities in Thursday's Budget, including ongoing and stable support for the work of the granting councils and $500 million in additional money over the next five years for the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Tuberculosis (TB) infects one-third of the world’s population, making it one of the most devastating infectious diseases.
On World TB Day March 24, McMaster’s infectious disease experts will join the world in emphasizing the urgent need for international TB vaccine development. Established by the World Health Organization, the day commemorates when Robert Koch announced 1882 that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.
Two members of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research are among the latest round of Canada Research Chairs announced by Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology.
John Brennan, formerly a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry, was promoted to a Tier 1 CRC in Bioanalytical Chemistry and Biointerfaces, while anthropologist Hendrik Poinar, Canada Research Chair in Paleogenetics had his Chair renewed for a second five-year term.
To read more about their Chairs and research programs, click here.
School closures stop spread of H1N1
Closing elementary and secondary schools can help slow the spread of infectious disease and should be considered as a control measure during pandemic outbreaks, according to a McMaster University led study.
Using high-quality data about the incidence of influenza infections in Alberta during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, the researchers show that when schools closed for the summer, the transmission of infection from person to person was sharply reduced.
“Our study demonstrates that school-age children were important drivers of pH1N1 transmission in 2009,” says David Earn, lead author of the study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Earn is professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and member of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR).
Microbial genomics as a strategy for developing antimicrobial drugs "failed to deliver" in part because "we don't understand the biology," says Eric Brown, Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and member of McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote Insitute for Infectious Disease Research. His strategy to overcome that impasse involves using antibiotics to "probe biology" and thus learn more about "essential functions" of microbes en route, perhaps, to novel or improved antimicrobials. He spoke during the symposium, "A New World of Academic Antimicrobial Discovery," part of the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, held in Chicago, Ill., last September.
Drugs used to overcome cancer can also combat antibiotic resistance, finds a new study led by Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
“Our study found that certain proteins, called kinases, that confer antibiotic resistance are structurally related to proteins important in cancer,” says Wright about the study published in Chemistry & Biology.
Semen plays a role in HIV transmission, study finds
More than two decades after its onset, the HIV/AIDS pandemic remains an enormous worldwide challenge; yet understanding how sexual transmission of HIV occurs in men and women remains one of the least understood areas of HIV research, claims Charu Kaushic, an associate professor in Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
Each year, the World Health Organization sets the flu vaccine content. Three influenza viruses—one influenza A (H3N2) virus, one seasonal influenza A (H1N1) virus, and one influenza B virus—are selected. This decision is made on the basis of a number of factors, explained McMaster University infectious diseases specialist Dr. Mark Loeb, “including surveillance data about circulating strains, how they spread, and whether there is a vaccine virus available that would provide protection against viruses likely to circulate.” For the vaccine to be most effective, he noted, there should be a match between the antigen in the vaccine and the circulating strains in a given season. So does this mean vaccination is a gamble?
Go Mac Go! Watch Gerry Wright cheer on the Marauders in their quest for the Uteck Bowl against Acadia in Moncton, New Brunswick. Click here to read the McMaster Daily News article.
Public lecture The Genome of the Black Death"
Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
Hendrik Poinar, IIDR member and evolutionary geneticist, will present a public lecture entitled "The Genome of the Black Death" on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. The Science in the City lecture takes place at the Hamilton Spectator Auditorium. To reserve your seat call ext. 24934 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visiting scientist brings Cuban biodiversity to McMaster
Ricardo Medina Marrero, a professor of Microbiology from Cuba’s Chemical Bioactive Center at the Central University of Las Villas, is visiting McMaster University as a collaborator in the lab of Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
An international team—led by researchers from McMaster University's Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the University of Tubingen in Germany—has sequenced the entire genome of the Black Death, one of the most devastating epidemics in human history.
This marks the first time scientists have been able to draft a reconstructed genome of any ancient pathogen, which will allow researchers to track changes in the pathogen’s evolution and virulence over time. This work—currently published online in the scientific journal Nature—could lead to a better understanding of modern infectious diseases.
Michael Surette, a member of the Michael G. Institute for Infectious Disease Research and a Canada Research Chair Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research, has received $727,419 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
His lab is one of five from across campus to receive funding under CFI’s Leader’s Opportunity Fund. The program invests in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to attract and retain today's best research talent.
The funding is earmarked for Surette's Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Microbiome Research in Health and Disease, which will be a high capacity Biosafety Level 2 facility dedicated to culturing, characterization and rapid molecular profiling of microbial communities of the human microbiome.
In the movie Contagion in theatres this Friday, a lethal species-jumping virus spreads rapidly causing sickness and death worldwide.
The premise is not far from reality.
According to Karen Mossman, an associate professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster, the chance of a pandemic occurring is imminent. "The world has faced pandemic outbreaks in the past, including SARS and swine flu," she says. "But with an increase in population density and more people travelling, the chance of a pathogen jumping species and spreading worldwide is more likely than ever."
Antibiotic resistance is as old as the mammoth, finds a new McMaster study published today in the science journal Nature.
The findings by Gerry Wright, scientific director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and McMaster evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar, show antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.
“Antibiotic resistance is seen as a current problem and the fact that antibiotics are becoming less effective because of resistance spreading in hospitals is a known fact,” said Wright. “The big question is where does all of this resistance come from?”
McMaster receives nearly $2.2-million for oil sands research
Researchers at McMaster have received nearly $2.2-million to examine important environmental processes in Alberta's oil sands, which could help speed up the land reclamation process for one of Canada's largest oil companies.
The project team, led by Lesley Warren, a professor in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, was recruited by Syncrude Canada Ltd. to investigate bacterial sulfur reactions occurring in its composite tailings. Composite tailings are the byproduct of the oil sand extraction process. They are high in alkalinity and salinity, and extremely low in organic matter.
The bacteria responsible for causing the 1348 Black Death, identified as one of the most cataclysmic events in human history, has been identified by a McMaster researcher.
Using a novel method of DNA enrichment coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing, Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist and member of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, his graduate student Kirsti Bos and collaborator Johannes Krause of the University of Tubingen have discovered that the now-extinct version of the Yersinia pestis bacterium initiated the bug that caused 30-50 million European deaths between 1347 and 1351.
Hendrik Poinar, an evolutionary geneticist and member of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, was among more than 50 scientists hand-picked from around the world to participate in a massive archeological dig in Snowmass, Colorado.
Cited as the biggest dig in American history, scientists raced the clock to unearth as many bones and fossils of animals as possible before a planned reservoir expansion began July 1. The $1-million project was supported by the National Geographic Society, which plans to air a segment on the dig on PBS sometime in 2012. Poinar’s group dug up mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths and horses.
Click here to read about the project in the New York Times or click here to read about the PBS series.
Cloning DNAs, running polymerase chain reactions to amplify DNA and learning how scientists are fighting antibiotic resistance at the bench is not a bad summer job for a 15-year-old interested in science.
Jessica Knight, winner of the M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Internship Award, has spent the last six weeks in IIDR scientific director Gerry Wright’s lab, learning all she could about antimicrobial resistance.
“Working in Dr. Wright’s lab has been amazing,” says the Grade 9 student from St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School. “I always knew I wanted to study science but now I know why.”
In the 72 years before her death, G. Jeanette Thorbecke made a mark. At 35, Dawn Bowdish is following closely in her footsteps.
As a result, the assistant professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) at McMaster was awarded the G. Jeanette Thorbecke Award from the Society for Leukocyte Biology (SLB).
A 30-year-old McMaster student may hold a key to curbing HIV - a global killer considered one of the worst pandemics in human history.
Sumiti Jain, a PhD student in McMaster researcher Ken Rosenthal’s lab, has successfully identified an optimized a prime-boost vaccine against HIV. Her study presents a strategy that uses an antigen from the glycoprotein spike (or gp41) of the virus, which has proven to prevent HIV infection by blocking and preventing the passage of the disease across the urogenital tract. Importantly, this antigen is highly conserved or shared among HIV strains around the world.
Experts weigh in on C. difficile
In the Globe and Mail, infectious disease experts say reining in the use of antibiotics is one of the most important steps in fighting C. difficile. Christine Lee, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University, however, argues that reducing antibiotic use is not simple, as it can be difficult to determine which patients actually need them and doctors may fear withholding antibiotics could put some patients at risk. “Physicians will have to be educated,” said Lee, who is also medical director of infection prevention and control at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “It’s more challenging than it sounds.”
Several students that work within the labs of IIDR members were recognized recently at the McMaster Health Sciences 2011 Research Plenary. The annual event recognizes research achievements of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
As they hibernate in dark, frigid caves, a mysterious fungus creeps on them, creating a white patch around their nose, wings and ears. The fungus wakes them early from hibernation, creates starvation, wing damage and a quick death.
To date more than one million bats have perished. Why remains a mystery.
McMaster’s Jianping Xu, an associate professor of biology and member of the Institute for Infectious Disease Research, is collaborating with leading microbiologists across North America to understand the Geomyces destructans fungal disease (or White Nose Syndrome, called such as infected bats have a very white patch around their nose).
Sexually transmitted co-infections increase HIV risk: study
Bacterial and viral sexually transmitted infections can exacerbate HIV replication in co-infected individuals, found a recent study conducted by a Canadian team of researchers and led by Charu Kaushic, associate professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research.
“While sexually transmitted infections are associated with increased HIV-1 susceptibility and viral shedding in the genital tract, the mechanisms underlying this association are poorly understood,” said Kaushic about the study that appears online this month in the Journal ofInfectious Diseases. “Our research has found that normal response to these infections by the epithelial cells (the cells that line the genital tract) can lead to increased HIV replication in the female reproductive tract.”
Dr. Francis (Frank) Plummer, a member of IIDR's Scientific Advisory Board, has received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from McMaster University.
Plummer is scientific director of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, a Canada Research Chair in Resistance and Susceptibility to Infections, and a global leader in HIV/AIDS research.
Study reveals new insight into the function of amyloid proteins
She’s a biologist investigating microbial genomics. He studies protein structures using electron microscopy. Put them together - their research opens doors.
A unique collaboration between Marie Elliot and Joaquin Ortega, members of the McMaster Institute for Infectious Disease Research, is providing new insight into the assembly of ‘amyloids’ – protein aggregates that are associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
A drug-resistant superbug that's spreading globally has been found in two Toronto-area people — a woman who went abroad for a controversial MS treatment and a man who hadn't travelled outside Ontario in more than a decade.
The latter case is believed to be the first time the organism, dubbed NDM-1, has been contracted in Canada — a finding a leading infectious disease expert called "alarming."
Julianne Kus, a former PhD graduate of IIDR member Lori Burrows, is the first author of the study published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The story also includes commentary from Gerry Wright, scientific director of the IIDR.
In the prehistoric world of dating, it turns out size really does matter.
Researchers at McMaster University have discovered that female woolly mammoths preferred to be wooed by a much larger, less hairy species of mammoth instead of more diminutive male woollies.
It’s the first time scientists have discovered any interbreeding between the woolly mammoth, which lived in the Arctic tundra, and the Columbian mammoth, which lived further south and was about 25 per cent bigger.
IIDR members and trainees are invited to an upcoming SWOP meeting on Saturday, May 31st at the University of Guelph. For more information view the poster.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Impact Awards, that recognize papers of exceptional impact published in 2013 by graduate students in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. The three winners of the impact awards are:
Nick Caron (Truant Lab) for his paper published in PNAS.
As part of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences seminar series, Dr. Gerry Wright hosted Dr. Caitlin Pepperell from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on MONDAY February 10th. Dr. Pepperell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and Medical Microbiology & Immunology, School of Medicine and Public Health. Her seminar was titled“Evolution of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis”.Click here to download the seminar notice.
Hendrik Poinar's latest work that looks into the Bubonic plague, which was caused by the rodent-borne bacterium Yersinia pestis, is featured in the New York Times and more than 250 other notable publications, and counting. To view updated coverage follow us on Twitter.
As part of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences seminar series and in conjunction with the Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), Dr. Gerry Wright hosted Dr. Leah Cowen from the University of Toronto on Tuesday January 28th . The seminar was titked: “Genetic and Genomic Architecture of Fungal Drug Resistance and Morphogenesis”.
The 54th Annual Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) is looking for
volunteer Science Fair judges. The annual high school science fair will take place on Thursday, March 27 at Hillfield Strathallan College on Fennell Avenue in Hamilton (next to Mohawk College), from 8:30 a.m to 4 p.m. Registration for judges is available online. The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research will
provide an award at BASEF this year to the best senior project in infectious disease, drug discovery or human health. It is one of BASEF's most coveted
As part of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences seminar series, IIDR's Lori Burrows will be hosting John Brennan, on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Dr. Brennan is an IIDR member, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Director of the Biointerfaces Institute. His seminar is entitled “High Throughput Materials Screening in the Biointerfaces Institute: Application to New Materials for Protein and Cell Microarrays” and will take place from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in HSC 4E20. Click here to download the poster.
IIDR Summer Fellowship opportunities: The IIDR will award ten $1,000 fellowships this summer to undergraduate students affiliated with members of the IIDR. The money is treated as a scholarship towards their summer earnings. The deadline to submit is March 4. Click here to view eligibility and submission guidelines.
Gerry Wright talks about the crisis in antibiotic resistance on Snap Talk. To read the article click here.
"Secrets in the Bones: The Hunt for the Black Death Killer" will air on CBC's The Nature of Things Thursday January 16 at
8 pm. The show follows IIDR member Hendrik Poinar’s quest to do something no other scientist in history has ever done - crack the genetic code of an ancient killer and change the way we fight infectious diseases today. To see the preview, click here.
As part of the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences seminar series, Dr. Eric Brown will be hosting Alita Miller from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday January 14th. Her seminar is entitled “The Turning Tides of Antibacterial Discovery” and will take place from 11:30 am to12:30 pm in HSC 4E20. Click here to view the poster.
Dr. Roland Kolbeckwill, a visiting professor from Gaithersburg, Maryland, will provide a lecture on "Drug Discovery in the Modern
on Thursday January 16, 2014
9 to10 am in MDCL-3023. Click here to view the poster.
McMaster's Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research will host a free one-day workshop on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 to mark the fifth anniversary of McMaster's Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy. The event takes place from 10:30 am to 4 pm in Gilmour Hall, Rm. 111 and will feature several speakers including IIDR's Joaquin Ortega, who will discuss "Visualizing the Cellular Machinery at Work." For more information or to register visit http://ccem.mcmaster.ca/outreach-courses.
Live chat: Secrets of the Grave: Watch McMaster evolutionary geneticist and IIDR member Hendrik Poinar chat live on Science News this Thursday (Dec. 12) at 3 pm. Click here to link into the video.
IIDR Scientific Director Gerry Wright recently provided a public lecture on antibiotic resistance at the Royal Canadain Institute Public Lecture Series. Click here to watch the video (Silverlight plug-in required)
The IIDR is now on Pinterest. Click here to check out our latest "pins".
The IIDR Post-doc Coffee Club will be held Thursday, Dec. 5 from 10-11 am in the IIDR Boardroom - MDCL-2307. The event will offer post-docs an opportunity to network and present their work orally to other post-docs in the IIDR. Refreshments will be provided.
Photos and videos from the IIDR Holiday Party at Staircase Theatre are posted online. Click here to view the slideshow.
IIDR members and infectious disease specialists Fiona Smaill and Mark Loeb were instrumental in the Halton Catholic District School Board's decision to offer the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine in their schools. Board trustees approved a reversal of a five-year-old ban on the vaccine program at a contentious meeting on Nov. 5. HPV, a common virus spread through sexual activity, is the leading cause of cervical cancer and can also cause genital warts and other cancers in both men and women. Click here to read coverage in the Hamilton Spectator.
The IIDR Post-doc Club will launch Thursday, Nov. 7 from 10-11 am in Rm. 2230. The event will offer post-docs an opportunity to network and present their work orally to other post-docs in the IIDR. Click here to view the poster.
The challenges governments face as they prepare to handle future infectious disease pandemics is the topic of a public discussion Monday, Nov. 4, featuring a top infectious disease expert from the United States. Dr. Rima Khabbaz, deputy director of the Office of Infectious Diseases for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, will share her views on the world’s ability to control and respond to the rapid spread of infectious diseases, during the event entitled The Pandemic Next Door: Complexities of a Global Outbreak Response.Click here to read more.
The Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences celebrated Halloween in good style. To view photos of dressed-up faculty and trainees and other Halloween festivities click here.
The IIDR will host a Seminar on Thursday, Nov. 7 featuring Stewart Fisher. Fisher's talk, titled: "Translating slow binding kinetics to cellular and in vivo Effects" will take place in MDCL 2232 from 9-10 am. All IIDR members and trainees are welcome. Click here to view the poster.
A photo slideshow featuring images from the 2013 IIDR Trainee Day is now posted. Click here to see the photos.
To fill out a short survey about the IIDR Trainee Day event, click here.
The 2013 Gairdner Lecture"HCV: From Hippocrates to Cure & The Discovery of a Shadowy Virus" will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 11 am to 12 pm in MDCL 1102. Click here for more details.
The 2013IIDR Trainee Day is fast approaching. It takes place on Oct. 18 in CIBC Hall in the McMaster University Student Centre. The registration table will open at 8:30 am. This very important IIDR event will feature a guest talk by Dr. KEVIN KAIN, a specialist in global infectious disease. Click here to view the program of the day as well as oral presenters.
The U.S. Centre for Disease Control released a report called "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013". It is a snapshot of the complex problem of antibiotic resistance today and the potentially catastrophic consequences of inaction. Click the above photo to link to the report.
The 2013 Summer edition of the BiochemRocks Newsmagazine has been released. Click on the above photo to view the electronic version.
The Demystifying Medicine Seminar Series kicks off again on Sept. 9 with "Why Communicating Research Matters", featuring talks by Chantall Van Raay, IIDR Communications Manager and John Chenery, Communications Manager, Ontario Lung Association. Click here to view the poster.
Register today for the IIDR Trainee Day event that will take place on Oct. 18 in CIBC Hall in the McMaster University Student Centre. This very important IIDR event will feature a guest talk by Dr. KEVIN KAIN, a specialist in global infectious disease, who was once profiled by TIME magazine as one of “Canada’s Best in Medicine”. He will discuss the impact of his research and experiences conducting fieldwork in the tropics and subtropics. His talk will focus on agnostic therapies for life-threatening infections, using malaria as a model. Click here to view the poster. Click here to register.
The IIDR is now LinkedIn! Click here to join our group.
The IIDR presents: "The Story of Louis Pasteur" (1936) on Wednesday, Aug. 7
1-3 pm in MDCL 3020. All members of the IIDR are invited to this film event. Popcorn and water provided. Seating will be limited.
Nominations are now being accepted for the Michael Kamin Hart Memorial Scholarship. Nominations are due Sept. 2. For more information click here.
Soumaya Zlitni, a PhD student in the lab of Eric Brown, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, recently won an award for the Best Contribution by a Young Scientist at a recent Systems Biology of Infection Conference held in Locarno, Italy. Her oral presentation entitled “Metabolic suppression profiling identifies new antibacterial inhibitors under nutrient limitation” focused on an approach to discover novel inhibitors that target metabolic pathways in bacteria. Says Zlitni: "Such inhibitors could serve as chemical probes of bacterial physiology under nutrient limited conditions and some could be promising leads for antibacterial drug development."
Dr. Jane Aubin from CIHR will be visiting McMaster on Monday, June 24 to discuss the grant and peer review reforms that are underway. Please plan to join and bring your questions, comments and suggestions. The meeting will be held in the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning Rm. 1105 from 11 am to 1 pm. For further information visit click here.
Sara Kilmury, a MSc Biochemistry candidate in Lori Burrows’ lab, was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship to support her studies of a unique two-component regulatory system in which the membrane protein that is under control of the regulatory system interacts directly with the sensor kinase to modulate its own expression. She is planning to transfer to the PhD program this summer.
Ylan Nguyen, a PhD student in Lori Burrows' lab, gave a talk in the Macromolecular Assemblies symposium at the American Society for Microbiology meeting on May 20 in Denver, CO. Nguyen described her molecular, biochemical and structural studies of the minor pilins involved in type IV pilus assembly in Pseudomonas. At the same meeting, Ryan Lamers, a postdoctoral researcher in the Burrows' lab, presented a poster on molecular mechanisms leading to antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas.
IIDR member Marie Elliot would like to encourage your participation in the Annual Charity Run event for the FAB Foundation. The run will take place June 22 at Confederation Park in Hamilton. All proceeds from the race will support FAB Foundation programs that are aimed at increasing the physical fitness, goal-setting skills and overall self-confidence of youth girls (aged 11-14) in lower income communities in Hamilton. For more information and to register click here.
Eric Brown’s seminar guest, Dr. Adam P. Rosebrock, Senior Research Associate with the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto, is set to give his seminar entitled “Cell Cycle Metabolism: Context dependent biochemistry affects eukaryotic growth and division” on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in HSC 4E20 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
The FHS Research Plenary Awards Presentation takes place Thursday, May 23 in the Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion (Health Sciences Library, 1st floor). Click here for details.
Dr. Polly Matzinger will present the 28th Daniel Perey Lecture on June 19 in MDCL-1309 at 10 a.m. hosted by the McMaster Immunology Research Centre. Matzinger is an immunologist who proposed a novel explanation of how the immune system works, called the danger model. Click here to view the poster.
A McMaster team competing in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition will host a Synthetic Biology Symposium on May 25 from 2-3:30 pm in MDCL 3020 featuring talks by Nathan Magarvey, IIDR, and Ratmir Derda, University of Alberta. Refreshments will be served. Click here to download the poster.
The FHS Research Plenary begins this week. This open forum event includes multiple poster and oral sessions from May 14 to 16. Click here for presentation details.
The IIDR hosted the advisory board of the CIHR Institute for Infection and Immunity last week. The event featured scientific presentations by David Earn, Hendrik Poinar and Dawn Bowdish and included a presentation to Eric Brown, whose term on the board ended. Click here to view photos of the event. (Pictured, Marc Ouellette, Chair of the III, right, thanks Eric Brown, Chair of Biochemistry at McMaster, for his years of service on the III Board.)
Photos of the 2013 IIDR Annual General Meeting are now online. Click the photo below to view the slideshow. (Pictured from left, Fred Capretta, Joaquin Ortega, Jonathan Bramson and Yingfu Li, members of the IIDR at the annual AGM.)
The 2013 IIDR Spring Newsletter is hot off the press. To view a copy click here.
Members of the IIDR and MIRC are invited to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute for Infection and Immunity Advisory Board meeting and networking event at McMaster on Tuesday, May 7 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm in the Farncombe Institute, Health Sciences Centre Rm. 3N4. The event will feature talks by Hendrik Poinar, David Earn and Dawn Bowdish and will be followed by a cocktail and networking reception. Download poster.
The IIDR Annual General Meeting for IIDR members took place April 24 at the Ancaster Mill. The meeting featured talks by investigators Hendrik Poinar, David Earn, Eric Brown, Joaquin Ortega, Mark Loeb and James Mahony. Stay tuned for photos.
SAVE the DATE! The third annual Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research Trainee Day 2013 will take place Oct. 18 in CIBC Hall in the McMaster University Student Centre. Further details will follow.
Ylan Nguyen, a PhD student in the lab of IIDR member Lori Burrows, received a competitive Student Travel Award to attend the American Society of Microbiology's 2013 Annual General Meeting this May. Nguyen's research involves the characterization of proteins that control pilus assembly and disassembly, and therefore 'twitching' motility in the bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She is currently funded by a CIHR PhD Studentship, and previously held a Cystic Fibrosis Canada Studentship.
The 4th annual Faculty of Health Sciences Research Plenary will be held on May 14-16, 2013, with an awards reception on May 27. The deadline for abstract submissions is March 20. Visit the FHS Research Plenary website for abstract submission forms and for additional information about the event.
IIDR members David Earn and Eric Brown will join other McMaster faculty, students and alumni at TEDx McMaster U's third annual conference on
Sunday, March 3 at McMaster Innovation Park from 9 am to 6 pm. This year's theme is "Eidemic: Thinking Is Contagious." For more information visit the TEDx McMaster U Facebook page.
McMaster Health Research Services has distributed its current funding opportunities bulletin. To view the bulletin cilck here.
Photos of the IIDR Holiday Party are posted! Click here to view the photos. The event raised more than $800. Proceeds are supporting the Michael Kamin Hart Memorial Scholarship and City Kids.
Prof. Brian Coombes comments in the CBC that the strain of E. coli found at high levels in Red Hill Creek is likely the strain that's in everyone's gastrointestinal tract. Click here to read more.
Gerry Wright presented the Origins Institute Colloquium Monday, Nov. 5 at 2:30 pm in MDCL 1110. His talk was titled "Origins of Antibiotics and Resistance". Coffee will be served at 2:15pm. Click here for more information.
Halloween 2012: From Greek Gods and Goddesses to Sperms and Egg, IIDR labs had a spooktacular time Oct. 31. Congratulations to the Brown lab for winning the top prize for best constume. Click here for photos.
The second annual IIDRTrainee Research Day took place on Friday, November 2, 2012 in the Farncombe Institute Atrium. Click here for more information.
IIDR member Charu Kaushic and her team are spotlighted in a Hamilton Spectator story about the provincial government's cash infusion into a new contemporary Biosafety Level 3 lab opening this fall in the IIDR. Click here to read the story.
Jianping Xu, Associate Professor of Biology and member of the IIDR, is featured in a Hamilton Spectator feature on summer projects that have taken academics everywherefrom Hamilton Harbour to across the globe. Click here to read about his project taking place this summer in southwestern China.
In researching his debut book on antibiotics, Dr. Gerry Wright showcased a screening of "Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet" in his lab. The film is about Paul Ehrlich's discovery of Salvarsan in 1909, otherwise known as compound 606 that was the 1st chemical used to treat an infectious disease, in this case syphilis, which at the time was a scourge in Europe. Dr. Wright blogs about it on the McMaster IIDR blog.
Combating malaria: In 2010, about 3.3 billion people - almost half of the world's population - were at risk of malaria. Every year, this leads to about 216 million malaria cases and an estimated 655,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, which has dedicated April 25 to World Malaria Day. IIDR member Tim Gilberger, a leader in malaria research, says: "Malaria is a major threat to public health, particularly in the world's poorest countries. Our lab is making great strides in finding new ways to combat emerging threats such as parasite resistance to a number of malaria medicines." Click here to read more about Gilberger's research.
Read how the overuse of antibiotics are causing resistance that could undermine medical advances in theGlobe and Mail.
Gerry Wright presented his work at the AAAS conference in Vancouver. Click here to read and comment on his presentation on the Canada Foundation for Innovation's blog or click here to read about his presentation on the AAAS website.
The 2011 IIDR Annual Report highlights the Institute's successes over the past year. Click here to download the pdf.
The Human Microbiome Journal Club, a bi-weekly meeting where participants present a recent study related to the human microbiome, continues in 2013. Click here for more information on upcoming journal club presentations or contact Matt Workentine at email@example.com.
Top 10 - 2011 was a year of scientific milestones at the IIDR, as evidenced by the Deccan Herald which listed two of the Institute's discoveries among its 10 top science news stories of the year. Click here to see what stories made the list.
Researchers who studied the fate of six species of 'megafauna' over the past 50,000 years found that climate change and habitat loss were involved in many of the extinctions. In an article in Nature, IIDR member Hendrik Poinar cautions that the plight of megafauna could be misleading when applied to modern extinctions of much smaller animals, and even plants. Read the article here.
Jack Gauldie, IIDR member and director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Health and a professor at McMaster University, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Ontario Genomics Institute. Click here to read more.
Hendrik Poinar's study on the Black Death appears on the cover of the prestigious science journal Nature. Click here to view the article.
A National HIV/AIDS Summit on Sept. 22 in Washington brought together an estimated 150 scientists, clinicians, public health leaders and advocates who helped draw a roadmap for accelerating the field of "implementation science" in HIV. Read more.
Justin Nodwell asks "What can we possilby hope to discover?" in the most recent IIDR blog post that examines why scientists care about the things they study. Read it here.
A recent study shows redesigning the antibiotic vancomycin can kill some bacteria that have become resistant to it. "Synthesis of the amidinated aglycon is a highly creative and rationally targeted approach to combatting bacterial drug resistance," comments IIDR Scientific Director Gerry Wright in the article in Chemical & Engineering News.
IIDR member Christine Lee discusses C. difficile in a Jeff Allen Show segment titled "How Do You Protect Yourself From Germs?" Click here for the podcast.
Lori Burrows, professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and IIDR member, shares her thoughts on C. difficile in the IIDR Blog. Click here to read her entry.