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The department of immunology marks its 50th anniversary with symposium

September 24, 2019 — 

The Max Rady College of Medicine’s department of immunology will be celebrating its 50th anniversary September 26 and 27, 2019. The event theme, Immunology: Translating Creativity into Better Health, is expected to attract more than 80 alumni, faculty, staff and students.

The celebration, which will take place at the Bannatyne Campus, include an opening reception, poster session and guided lab tour. Distinguished University of Manitoba immunology alumni from academia, clinical, industry, government and not-for-profit sectors will present a series of lectures.

University of Manitoba alumnus Youhai Chen, MD, [PhD/93], will deliver the keynote lecture titled “New Immune checkpoints for cancer and inflammation: From c-Rel to TNFAIP8 family.” Chen is currently Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include autoimmunity, inflammation and cancer and he is a recipient of the Colyton Prize for Autoimmune Research.

Other featured alumni during the two-day event include:

  • Rebecca Dielschneider, [PhD/16], Assistant Professor & B.Sc. Program Co-ordinator, Providence College & Theological Seminar, Otterburne, Manitoba
  • Renée Douville, [B.Sc. (Hons)/02, PhD/07], Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Winnipeg
  • Mansour Haeryfar, [M.Sc. 99], PhD, Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Western University
  • Ivan Landego, [B.Sc. (Maj)/08, M.Sc./12, MD/16], Department of Hematology, Queen’s University
  • Ian Lewkowich, [B.Sc. (Hons)/97, PhD/04], Assistant Professor, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital & Department of Pediatrics
  • Dong Liu, [PhD/11], Principal Scientist, IsoPlexis Inc., Branford, Connecticut, USA
  • Heyu Ni, [PhD/00], Professor, University of Toronto & Transfusion Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Paul Sandstrom, [B.Sc. (Maj)/83, PhD/90], Director, National HIV and Retrovirology Laboratories, JC Wilt Infectious Disease Research Centre, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Marika Sarfati, MD, [PhD/86], Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Montreal
  • David Tough, [B.Sc. (Hons)/85, PhD 92], Staff Scientist, GlaxoSmithKline Research Centre, Stevenage, United Kingdom
  • John Wilkins, [PhD/79], Director, Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology, University of Manitoba
  • Laura Wilson, PhD, Director of Health, Strategy & Ventures , Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Oakland, California, USA
  • Mark Wilson, PhD, Senior Scientist, Genentech, San Francisco, California, USA
  • Lei Zhang, MD, [PhD/93], Assessment Officer, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Tingting Zhang, [PhD/10], Senior Scientist, James Lab, Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute

“As the oldest continuously-active academic immunology department in North America, this is a big milestone for us,” said Dr. Aaron Marshall, head, department of Immunology, “We’re very excited to host a fantastic slate of speakers – all of whom are alumni of our graduate or post-doctoral training programs. This promises to be a memorable event recognizing our unique history, celebrating the achievements that have been made and looking forward to a bright future.”

The department of immunology was founded in 1969 by a group of 35 visionary scientists and trainees from McGill University who seized the initiative to spearhead something new in Winnipeg. Today the department is known and respected internationally as a unique centre for immunology research and teaching. A major strength of the program is the excellent research environment, reflected in the strong research faculty, award-winning students, and high levels of external research funding and availability of leading-edge facilities.

Since the early 1990s, its focus has been on the establishment of a multidisciplinary program in immunology encompassing biomedical and clinical scientists. The department has received international recognition for research discoveries in fundamental immunology, translational immunology and collaboration with industry. It is at the forefront of knowledge in allergy, asthma, cancer, immunization, autoimmunity and inflammatory disease research.

Strong scientific links exist with the Manitoba Centre for Proteomics and Systems Biology, Child Health Research Institute of Manitoba, Health Sciences Centre, National Microbiology Laboratory and Research Institute in Oncology and Hematology, all located on or near the U of M Bannatyne campus.

“The department has evolved over the years into its current form as an internationally-recognized, research-intensive group of biomedical and clinical researchers,” said Dr. Brian Postl, dean, Max Rady College of Medicine and Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and Vice-Provost (Health Sciences), “Looking at the list of University of Manitoba immunology alumni speaking at this event, I am impressed by the breadth and excellence emerging from our graduate and post-doctoral training programs in immunology.”

In 2009, the department moved to new open-concept laboratories in the Apotex Centre featuring 18,000 square feet of custom-designed research and teaching space. The Apotex Centre will host part of the 50th anniversary event which will include a tour of the state-of-the-art laboratories.

For more information and full schedule of events, please visit:

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