Department of Immunology News
June/July 2015 edition

Welcome to our News Page

Our aim?  To keep you informed about our Department members' activities and achievements on a regular basis, of course!  As the News evolves, we'll include sections to introduce new Department members, and to tell you about thesis defences, recent publications and special events.  Do you have an item you would like to be considered for future editions of the Immunology News?  If so, please contact web master and Administrative Assistant Karen Morrow.

They're leaving!

Vidyanand Anaparti

Nandu defended his thesis on June 30th and will receive his Ph.D. degree at convocation in October.   Congratulations and well done!  You've reached the light at the end of the tunnel.  Nandu is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow, working with Drs. Hani El-Gabalawy and Neeloffer Mookherjee.  


Dr. Julia Rempel Going to ICID
Julia says thanks
Julia says thank you
We all wish Dr. Julia Rempel well as she takes up her new position at the International Centre for Infectious Diseases, here in Winnipeg. Julia has a long history with us.  She graduated from our Department's Ph.D. program in 1999,  after which she did a Post Doc at the Scripps Institute. In 2002 she returned to join the Department of Internal Medicine where she soon became the Director of the Liver Research Program while maintaining a cross-appointment in Immunology. She supervised 3 Immunology M.Sc. students during her years with us. On June 25th the Department hosted a farewell send-off and presented her with cake, a gift and many good wishes. Good luck, Julia! 


Joe Lécuyer Retires
Cutting the cakeJoe cuts his cake

Joe receives an honourXi bestows an honour

Our popular Apotex Centre janitor, Joe Lécuyer, will officially retire on July 17th.   On Friday, July 3rd the Department had a small farewell gathering to say thank you and good luck.  Joe is looking forward to enjoying more time at home with his wife Yvette and his two Westie dogs and will be taking a trip soon.  There were speeches from Department Head Xi Yang and Administrative Assistant Karen Morrow and words of advice, thanks and appreciation from Joe.  Office Assistant Susan Ness went the extra mile and made an extra special janitorial-themed cake.  It had two layers, fondant icing and was decorated to look like a bucket containing water, a mop handle, a sprayer bottle and rubber gloves.   A cleaning sponge completed the effect.  Needless to say, Susan removed all the decorative touches before Joe served the delicious cake!  Xi presented Joe with a poster illustrating the name plate that will soon be affixed to the door of room 414.   In the future, this room will be known as The Joe Lécuyer Caretaking Room.  Joe is the third member of the Department to be honoured with having a room named after him.  The first were professors Alec Sehon, Professor Emeritus (the seminar room) and Kent HayGlass (the study carrel suite).
We'll miss you Joe!

(Photos courtesy of Karen Morrow)

Department Members Organize 2015 Canadian Society for Immunology Meeting

This year the annual CSI meeting was held at The Fairmont Hotel, from June 4-7,  immediately after the Canadian Student Health Research Forum. Since Winnipeg was hosting the event this time, our Department members were heavily involved in its organization and activities.  The Local Organizing Committee was comprised of faculty members Aaron Marshall (Chair), Kent HayGlass, Sam Kung, Neeloffer Mookherjee, Peter Nickerson (Associate Dean, Research, College of Medicine), Jude Uzonna, and Xi Yang (Department Head.)  Our students pulled up their sleeves as well.  Their involvement was impressive and they were noted by one attendee as the most active student bunch he had ever seen at a CSI annual meeting.   The student volunteers stood out in the crowd, distinguished by their one-of-a-kind green CSI t-shirts.

Meeting activites included 3 symposia, workshops, the granting of travel awards for graduate students, post doctoral fellow and new investigators and a poster competition for students.


Members of the Local CSI Organizing Committee and Student Volunteers
(Photo courtesy of Vasudeva Bhat, Ph.D. Program)
CSI Organizing Committe and Students

(Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

Front (L-R): Abdel Soussi Gounni, Sam Kung, Xi Yang, Neeloffer Mookherjee, Jude Uzonna, Vasudeva Bhat

Middle (L-R): Grace Choi, Forough Khadem, Nora Choi, Jyoti Balhara, Emelissa Mendoza, Azin Khafipour

Back (L-R:) Xun (Grace) Wu, Hesam Movassagh, Nonso Onyilagha, Rebecca Dielschneider, Samantha Pauls, Nazanin Tatari

Missing:  Aaron Marshall (Chair) and Kent HayGlass

Grad Students Clean Up at the Canadian Student Health Research Forum (CSHRF)

The 28th annual Canadian Student Health Research Forum, also known as "Research Days", was held here at the Bannatyne Campus in the Brodie Centre from June 2-4, 2015.  Drs. Xi Yang and Kent HayGlass chaired the international symposium on Immune Balance and Health. 

The Symposium portion of this event was held on June 4th.  Guest speakers were Dr. Wanjun Chen, National Institutes of Health; Dr. Peter Lipsky, AMPEL BioSolutions; Dr. Yong-Jun Liu, MedImmune; Dr. Luanne Metz, University of Calgary and Dr. Bali Pulendran, Emory University.

Our enthusiastic students participated in the Manitoba and CIHR National Poster competitions and did very well, indeed.

Bravo to our Award Winners!

Manitoba Student Research Poster Competition - June 2, 2015
Major Award Winner -
Manitoba Institute for Child Health Award for Pediatrics and Child Health Research
  • Ifeoma Okwor (Ph.D. Program, Medical Microbiology.  J. Uzonna lab)
Dean of Medicine Poster Award
  • Rebecca Dielschneider (Ph.D. Program, S. Gibson lab)
Dean of Graduate Studies Poster Award
  • Emeka Okeke (Ph.D. Program, J. Uzonna lab)
  • Forough Khadem (Ph.D. Program, J. Uzonna lab)
  • Samantha Pauls (Ph.D., Biochemistry/Medical Genetics, A. Marshall lab)
Manitoba Medical Service Foundation Poster Award
  • Jyoti Balhara (Ph.D. Program, A. Soussi Gounni lab)
  • Ka-Yee (Grace) Choi,  (Ph.D. Program, N. Mookherjee lab)
  • Marc-Antoine De La Vega (M.Sc. Program, G. Kobinger lab)
Honourable Mention
  • Nour Eissa (M.Sc. Program. J. Ghia lab)
  • Nazanin Tatari (M.Sc. Program, A. Soussi Gounni lab)
CIHR National Student Research Poster Competition - June 3, 2015

CIHR Gold Award
(12 awards in total given)

  • Forough Khadem (Ph.D. Program, J. Uzonna lab)
  • Emeka Okeke (Ph.D. Program, J. Uzonna lab)
CIHR Silver Award
(13 awards in total given)
  • Rebecca Dielschneider (Ph.D. Program, S. Gibson lab)
CIHR Honourable Mention
  • Ka-Yee (Grace) Choi (Ph.D. Program, N. Mookherjee lab)
Karol McNeill Technician Award
  • Bill Stefura (Technician, K. HayGlass lab)

    This annual award honors an outstanding technician in health sciences research at the University of Manitoba. Selection for this distinction is based on prolonged service, scientific excellence, leadership and mentorship. 
CSI Poster Prize
  • Rebecca Dielschneider (Ph.D. Program, S. Gibson lab)
CSI Travel Award
  • Forough Khadem (Ph.D. Program, J. Uzonna lab)
  • Samantha Pauls (Ph.D. Program, Biochemistry & Medical Genetics, A. Marshall lab)
  • Hadeesha Piyadasa (Ph.D. program, N. Mookherjee lab)


Research Manitoba Announces 2015 Health Research Competition Award Winners

On June 30th, Research Manitoba (formerly known as the Manitoba Health Research Council) announced the names of award recipients for the 2015 competition year. Congratulations to our Department Members. We are proud of you.

Operating Grants - Mid-Career
  • Dr. Cynthia Ellison (Department of Pathology, cross appointed to the Department of Immunology)
Operating Grants - New Investigator
  • Dr. Thomas Murooka
Co-ordinated Post Doctoral Fellowship - Funding partners include CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba and Rick Hansen Institute
  • Dr. Ahmed Ali  (A. Marshall lab)
  • Dr. Ifeoma Okwor (J. Uzonna lab)
  • Dr. Ying Peng (X. Yang lab)
Co-ordinated Studentship (Ph.D.) - Funding partners include CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, University of Manitoba - Faculty of Graduate Studies, Health Sciences Centre Foundation
  • Rebecca Dielschneider (Ph.D. Program, S. Gibson lab)
  • Chukwunonso Onyilagha (Ph.D. Program, J. Uzonna lab)
  • Emelissa Mendoza (M.Sc. Program, G. Kobinger lab.  Award declined)
Co-ordinated Studentship (M.Sc.) - Funding partners include CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, University of Manitoba - Faculty of Graduate Studies, Health Sciences Centre Foundation
  • Nour Eissa (M.Sc. Program, J. Ghia lab)

Immunology Department Members Appear in the Media

Sometimes it feels as if our research is done in a vaccuum. Not so! Immunology research has an impact on the day-to-day lives of the public. See these news stories in which Rebecca and Afshin bring their expertise to the world outside the lab.

Dr. Afshin Raouf Dr. Afshin Raouf

Deciphering Cancer's Code: Work by local scientists could lead to breast-cancer prediction and prevention
Shamona Harnett, The Winnipeg Free Press, June 15, 2015.
 Rebecca Dielschneider

Rebecca Dielschneider, Ph.D. student

Cutting through the jargon: U of M grad student finishes second in national competition. The Herald, June 23, 2015

Fascinating Fact - Did You Know that ...

Immunology Demographics of June 2015, our Professors, staff, trainees and graduate students hail from 16 countries and speak 19 languages? Our on-campus Immunology family members represent Canada (26.32%), India (21.05%), China (15.79%), Iran (8.77%), Nigeria (7.02%), Morocco (3.51%). Making up the rest of the complement at 1.75% each are Hong Kong, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, France, Kuwait and Sierra Leone. We speak Arabic, Bangla, Cantonese, English, Farsi (Persian), French, Hindi, Igbo, Kannada, Krio, Malayalam (Kairali), Mandarin, Marathi, Nepali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telegu, Urdu and, most importantly, the language of SCIENCE.

As our international family grows, our world shrinks. What happens in our members' home countries affects us here too. In the last year, our students have raised money to support those at home who are suffering from the effects of ebola in Sierra Leone and earthquakes in Nepal. Yes, it's a small world, after all.


For more stories on our Department's past activities, please see Immunologists in the Media (2014 and early 2015), and  Immunology in the News (1969-2010)