We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Marcel Behr as Interim Director, McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University. Dr. Behr, MI4’s Co-Director (Infection) prior to this appointment, will continue to work with Dr. Marie Hudson, also Co-Director (Immunity) since 2019. Dr. Behr replaces Dr. Don Sheppard, founding Director of MI4, who has been seconded to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to serve as Executive Scientific Director for the newly created Antimicrobial Resistance Task Force. During the three-year secondment, he remains a McGill Professor, will continue his research program at the RI-MUHC and remain an active member of the MI4 community. We thank Dr. Sheppard for his leadership and outstanding contributions.
MI4 was launched in 2018 to connect and build interdisciplinary research teams that span the larger McGill community, with the goal of developing new solutions for infectious and immune diseases for patients and populations who most need them. Together with Dr. Don Sheppard, Drs. Behr and Hudson have excelled in championing the promotion of infection and immunity research, both within and outside the University. With over $31 million in funding support, MI4 is fostering innovation by bringing together researchers from different areas of expertise and geographic sites, as well as mentoring a community of young, emerging scientists. The initiative currently supports nearly 200 researchers engaged in close to 120 projects, representing 23 centres, groups and partners.
As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, MI4 helped lead the rapid and strategic response of McGill investigators and clinicians in pivoting the University’s research capacity to address this global threat. Some of these initiatives include the development of the MI4 Clinical Research Platform that supports clinical trials of new COVID-19 therapies and the MI4 Hot Zone Level 3 Laboratories, where investigators safely conduct studies with live SARS-CoV-2 virus in pre-clinical models. MI4 investigators launched a total of 65 COVID-19 research projects, and a number of MI4 researchers have played important leadership roles in the federal and provincial response to COVID-19, and serving as advisors to Health Canada and PHAC, among others.
Dr. Behr is an accomplished clinician-scientist and Full Professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill and Associate Member in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, as well as Microbiology and Immunology. He is the founding Director of the McGill International TB Centre, the Associate Program Leader of the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the RI-MUHC, and the Interim Director of the Infectious Diseases Division at McGill. His research uses genomic methodologies to study the epidemiology and pathogenesis of tuberculosis and is supported by a Foundation Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a Tier I Canada Research Chair. His scholarly work has been recognized by election to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.
As Interim Director of MI4, Dr. Behr will build on the successful programs in place and continue to promote the excellence of infection and immunity research. He will lead MI4’s strategic priorities, which include among others increasing its international reach through additional partnerships and global collaborations and attracting new scientific talent to McGill. He will oversee MI4’s core activities and provide leadership in the development and assessment of research objectives. He will continue to build on the many collaborations that have been created within McGill’s affiliated research institutes, hospitals, as well as with Departments and Centres across the Faculty and University. Dr. Behr will ensure MI4’s continued success in addressing the many challenges in infection and immunity that affect and will continue to affect people across the globe.
Please join us in wishing Drs. Behr and Hudson success in leading MI4 going forward. We wish Dr. Sheppard equal success in his exciting new position with the Canadian Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance at PHAC.
David Eidelman, MDCMVice-Principal (Health Affairs) Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
Lesley Fellows, MD, PhDVice-Dean, Academic Affairs