Researchers and trainees from the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the RI-MUHC enjoyed a stimulating day of presentations and scientific discussion

The IDIGH Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) hosted its seventh annual Research Day. Organized by the program’s trainee committee, the event welcomed more than 185 attendees in the Cruess Amphitheatre and McConnell Atrium at the Glen site of the RI-MUHC and showcased 10 oral and 29 poster presentations from IDIGH Program trainees and research staff

The day started with motivating and informative remarks highlighting the role, themes and strengths of the IDIGH Program through the eyes of four women. Representing different levels of leadership at the RI-MUHC were research trainees Aunonna Kabir and Céleste Pilon, who are co-presidents of the IDIGH Research Day organizing team; Dr. Alexandra De Pokomandy, a scientist and co-leader of the IDIGH Program; and Dr. Rhian Touyz, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the RI-MUHC.

The morning featured oral presentations by trainees in the early stages of their scientific training, while the more senior graduate students presented in the afternoon. Throughout the day, presentations highlighted the IDIGH Program’s mission to focus on patient-centred research and outcomes. The midday break provided a welcome opportunity for in-person discussions of science, as more than thirty trainees presented their work in a lively and well-attended poster session in the atrium.

The day culminated in a keynote address by special guest Andrés Finzi, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Retroviral Entry and associate professor in the department of Microbiology, Infectiology and Immunology at the Université de Montréal. In a talk entitled “A molecular locksmith: Studying HIV1 and SARS-CoV-2 entry glycoproteins,” Prof. Finzi spoke about his work on interactions between viruses and target cells, work that aims to develop a new class of entry inhibitors.

“I’m inspired by the depth of knowledge and scientific creativity displayed by our talented research trainees,” said Dr. De Pokomandy. “It’s wonderful to be here in person, discussing science and learning,” added Ciro Piccirillo, PhD, senior scientist at the RI-MUHC and second co-leader of the IDIGH Research Program.

“This was such an exciting opportunity to speak to other trainees and learn about their work,” agreed Aunonna Kabir and Céleste Pilon.

Ten trainees took home awards for the excellent science reflected in best oral and poster presentations.

Awards for best oral presentations were awarded to (clockwise from top left) Yichun Sun, Jackson Chen , Seerat Chawla, Mikhaël Attias, Émilie Bortolussi-Courval, and Alicia Reyes Valenzuela
Awards for best oral presentations were awarded to (clockwise from top left) Yichun Sun, Jackson Chen , Seerat Chawla, Mikhaël Attias, Émilie Bortolussi-Courval, and Alicia Reyes Valenzuela

Oral presentations (early career):

  1. Yichun Sun
  2. Jackson Chen
  3. Seerat Chawla

Oral presentations (senior):

  1. Alicia Reyes Valenzuela
  2. Émilie Bortolussi-Courval
  3. Mikhaël Attias

Poster presentations:

  • Marialuisa Vigano
  • Nathan Markarian
  • Esma Mouhoub
  • George Dong

In closing remarks, Ciro Piccirillo announced the program cornerstones moving forward. He thanked the organizing team, speakers and presenters, as well as the generous industry sponsors who helped make the day a reality.

“We are so grateful to our sponsors,” added Eric Béliveau, manager of the IDIGH Program. “They work hard to develop new tools and products to help move research forward. At Research Day, we hope our new cohort of trainees will learn a lot from our sponsors too!”

For more information about the IDIGH Program and the talented researchers who are leading the way in the infectious disease and immunity research at the RI-MUHC, please visit the IDIGH Program webpage.