Subject: IIDR eNews - April 30th, 2018

Issue 16 - April 30th, 2018
Interdisciplinary Antimicrobial Discovery: IIDR Trainees Collaborate to Develop New Treatments Against Superbugs

IIDR members Dr. Brent Weber, a biologist in the Brown Lab, and Dr. Srinivas Dharavath, a chemist in the Magolan Lab, perfectly exemplify the incredible interdisciplinary research efforts that are currently underway within the IIDR.

In the Brown lab, Brent identified molecules that kill the bacterial pathogen Klebsiella pneumoniae by using a unique assay run under conditions that closely mimic human infection. 
In 2017, these two postdoctoral fellows joined forces with the aim of synthesizing and evaluating a small library of new synthetic antibacterial molecules based on Brent’s initial hits. 

To date, Srinivas has synthesized more than 20 new compounds - some of which Brent has found to exhibit potent antimicrobial activity. Ultimately, these two bright scientists hope to develop optimized molecules that are efficacious in animal models of infection.
IIDR Investigators Fight the Flu

2018 marks the 100th year anniversary of the “Spanish Flu” – the first of the two H1N1 influenza virus pandemics that resulted in an upwards of 500 million deaths around the world. In the Spring 2018 issue of MAC the Magazine, Sara Laux covers the amazing progress that IIDR investigators Dr. David Earn, Dr. Mark Loeb, and Dr. Matthew Miller have made to model, track, and prevent pandemics, and further highlights Dr. Matthew Miller’s groundbreaking work on a universal flu vaccine.

Learn More >

GECs Induce Antiviral Responses Following HIV-1 Exposure, Kaushic's Team Finds

In women, the genital epithelial cells (GECS) that line the reproductive tract are the first line of defence against sexually transmitted pathogens. Previous studies by Dr. Charu Kaushic’s team have shown that GECS from the upper reproductive tract induce an inflammatory response following HIV-1 exposure, which may facilitate HIV-1 translocation and infection. In their most recent publication, this team, led by McMaster research scientist Aisha Nazli, report the ability of endometrial and endocervical GECs to simultaneously induce interferon-β (IFNβ) antiviral responses following exposure to HIV-1. This response gives rise to a protective effect on the mucosal barrier – a pivotal finding that helps aid our understanding of HIV infectivity in the female reproductive tract.
"Gnothi Seauton": Leveraging the Host Response to Improve Influenza Virus Vaccine Efficacy

Undoubtedly, the best way to prevent influenza infection is through vaccination. However, the efficacy and durability of seasonal vaccines remain an area of concern. In an effort to identify the knowledge gaps in effective influenza vaccination design, 4th year thesis student Hannah Stacey, in collaboration with post-doc Dr. Neda Barjesteh and PhD student Jonathan Mapletoft of Dr. Matthew Miller’s lab, review the recent advances in our understanding of the host response to influenza vaccination determined through sequencing, systems biology, and immunological studies.

Learn More >

Reviewing the Evidence for Viruses as Environmental Risk Factors for ALS

Approximately 1 in 400 people will develop the neurodegenerative disease ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) at some point in their lives. Although great progress has been made over the past couple of decades to better understand the role of genetics in ALS onset, the cause of most cases remain unknown. In a recent review, Dr. Matthew Miller and his student Daniel Celeste investigate the evidence supporting the role of viruses as potential “triggers” of ALS onset. Their work offers fresh perspectives on the correlations between viruses and ALS and emphasizes the need for a more multidisciplinary approach towards future ALS research.
! We've moved! Please note that the IIDR administration office has relocated to MDCL 2235.
! There will be no ID / IIDR Combined Joint Rounds for the month of May. Rounds will resume in June.
DOUBLE Congrats to Miller Lab Trainee, Ali Zhang!

It's been an eventful month for MD/PhD student Ali Zhang. 
Ali is a trainee in Dr. Matthew Miller's lab, where he investigates the mechanisms by which broadly neutralizing antibodies protect against influenza virus infections. Last week, it was announced that Ali's application to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Infection and Immunity Research ranked in the top 1%. Further, Ali just won Best Presentation at the McMaster Medical Student Research Day in his first year in the program. Keep up the great work Ali!

Dr. Gerry Wright Talks Fungi on CBC's The Current

More than just mushrooms: IIDR’s Dr. Gerry Wright talks about fungi's potential to fight antibiotic resistance on CBC’s The Current. Listen to the segment here, which begins at 22:35. Dr. Wright is introduced at 33:40.

Banff Conference on Infectious Diseases
May 23rd - 27th, 2018, Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, Canada

Since 1982, the biennial Banff Conference on Infectious Diseases (BCID) has been a unique forum for internationally-recognized experts to present their research on pathogenesis and other aspects of infectious diseases and host defences. The Conference is symposium-based with four invited speakers in six different areas. Further, a poster session allows registrants an opportunity to present their work. Find out more about the 19th BCID here.
The International Biotechnology Symposium - Call for Abstracts Extended
August 12th - 17th, Montreal, Canada

The International Biotechnology Symposium, presented by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), has extended their call for abstracts to May 11, 2018. This symposium provides a unique, international forum for the exchange of ideas among peers, and facilitates networking whilst discovering Canada’s cultural capital. The theme of the 2018 conference is "Supporting a Healthy World". Learn more here.
Science Journalism Summer School - Projected Futures 2
July 9th - 13th, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

Want to experiment with science journalism? Join Concordia's 2nd intensive graduate summer school on evidence-based science journalism, Projected Futures 2. Projected Futures is an intensive and experiential summer school that will challenge participants to rethink how science is communicated with society. Graduate students will be exposed to the foundations of evidence-based science journalism and then asked to experiment to create new forms of scientific storytelling. Apply here.
Call for Applications - Young Microbiologists Symposium at the John Innes Centre 
September 17th & 18th, 2018, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK

The Department of Molecular Microbiology at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK is inviting young post-docs or PhD students working on any exciting aspect of bacterial microbiology to give a 30 minute talk at their Young Microbiologists Mini-Symposium. The aim of this event is for the John Innes Centre to hear state-of-the-art presentations in bacterial microbiology, to enhance ones understanding of where exciting new developments in the field are heading and to help shape ideas about future research areas that could be developed within the Department. Learn more about how to participate here
The Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD) Update - April 2018 

The Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD) has been updated. This release includes the addition of HERA, TRU, & ACI beta-lactamases, sul4, and new quinolone efflux pumps. The Antibiotic Resistance Ontology has been expanded to include an entirely new branch describing AMR phenotypic testing methods. Resistome and sequence variant predictions have additionally been expanded to 67 important pathogens, with a focus on ESKAPEs, WHO Priority Pathogens, and agents of sepsis. Visit the website here.
Upcoming Events
Wednesday, May 2nd: Immunology and Infection Program (IIP) Seminar Series
Dr. Dale L. Boger, Richard and Alice Cramer Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and The Skaggs Institute For Chemical
Biology, The Scripps Research Institute (Hosted by Dr. Anthony Rullo)
“Redesign of vancomycin for resistant bacteria”
9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Friday, May 4th: Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) Seminar
Dr. Helen I. Zgurskaya, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma (Hosted by Dr. Gerry Wright & Dr. Eric Brown)
“Molecular and kinetic determinants of antibiotic permeation into bacteria”
10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
MDCL 3020
Tuesday, May 8th: The Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Seminar Series
Dr. Michael Overduin, Professor and CAIP Chair, Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, and Executive Director of NANUC, Edmonton (Hosted by Dr. Russell Bishop)
“Structural biology of E. coli, prion and eukaryotic trafficking proteins in membranes using NMR, MODA and SMALP tools"
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
MDCL 3020
Wednesday, May 9th: Immunology and Infection Program (IIP) Seminar Series
Dr. Richard Silver, Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, Case Western Reserve, University School of Medicine (Hosted by Dr. Zhou Xing)
"Local Immunity to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis: Studies of the Human Lung"
9:00 AM to 10:00 AM
Wednesday, May 9th: Structural Biology Journal Club 
Hosted by Dr. Sara Andres
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
MDCL 2218
*The Structural Biology Journal Club will be held every second Wednesday of the month.
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