(shown) The McGill University Health Centre. The Doggone Foundation has donated $15 million for the MUHC and to McGill University to make Montreal a leading focal point into research against infectious and immune diseases. Photo: Ryan Remiorz- CP

Multi-million dollar donation to help Montreal research into infection and immune threats  

$15 million donation will speed research – make Montreal a leader in infectious and immune disease research

Antibiotic resistance, also known as creating “superbugs” is already a critical and too often deadly health issue, and one that is increasing.

In 1967, the U.S Surgeon General made the precipitous statement, “The time has come to close the book on infectious diseases. We have basically wiped out infection in the United States.”

What he hadn’t counted on was the widespread overuse of antibiotic drugs which has led to many bacteria evolving and becoming resistant to even the most powerful drugs.

Image Joanne Hui-McGill University

Infections are the second most common cause of death worldwide; they are responsible for two thirds of the deaths in children under the age of five. In the past few decades, dozens of new infectious diseases that continue to kill millions of people worldwide.

Diseases of altered immunity: The same host factors that govern resistance to infection and cancer can lead to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Innovative immunotherapeutic approaches have enormous potential in the management of immune disease and cancer.

Image Joanne Hui-McGill University

However, manipulation of the immune system can have unintended consequences on the  susceptibility to infection. The new research effort will seek to develop a better understanding of the immune response to infections and cancer and how immune

Huge financial gift to boost research

Today the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation and McGill University announced a major financial donation of $15 million dollars to boost research into these diseases and develop treatments.

Prevalent infectious and immune diseases around the world in 2017. Image Joanne Hui-McGill University

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

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

Image Joanne Hui-McGill University

The donation by the Montreal-based Doggone Foundation will be used to launch the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity. This unique and highly collaborative endeavour will harness the scientific expertise, resources and creativity of some 250 researchers at McGill University, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and other affiliated research partners in the battle against infectious and immune-related diseases. The late Elspeth McConnell, a former Montreal journalist, established the Doggone Foundation in 2011, which has since provided generous support to the McGill hospital and many other institutions.

“The Doggone Foundation is proud to fund health care and research in Canadian hospitals as well as university educational programs,” says Paul Marchand, Executive Director of the Doggone Foundation. “The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity is a groundbreaking project that not only perfectly fits with our Foundation’s mission, it also has the potential to revolutionize and radically impact global health. The time to act is now, and the place to do it is here in Montreal, thanks to the world-leading researchers in the fields of infection and immunity at the MUHC and McGill. It is these types of transformational and collaborative initiatives that the Doggone Foundation is inspired to support.”

The mission statement of the new Initiative is: ”to create and foster interdisciplinary translational research teams that will generate new understandings of the microbial, host and environmental determinants that underlie the development of human infectious and immune diseases, and to develop new preventative,diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to combat these conditions”.

Co-directors of the new research will be Dr. Don Sheppard, (MD, FRCP, FAAM, FASCI, FACHS) and Dr. Marcel Behr (MD, MSc)

Dr Marcel Behr (L) and Dr Don Sheppard (R) co-directors of the new research initiative Photo-MUHC

Dr. Sheppard is a professor in the departments of Medicine and Microbiology, and Immunology at McGill University, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and at McGill University and a scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the MUHC, in Montreal. He also leads the Medical Mycology laboratory and practices in clinical infectious diseases at the MUHC

Dr Behr is a professor of Medicine at McGill University, and Director of the McGill International Tuberculosis (TB) Centre and Associate Leader of the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).

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