The Fowke Lab

Curling CAHR
Curling 2018

CAHR 2019 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan





Principal Investigator:
Keith Fowke

Hometown: Winnipeg, MB (Born in Norway House, MB)

Education:PhD, (Medical Microbiology) UofM, BSc (Honours – Microbiology) UofM
Awards: Merit (Research - 2018), MMID Dr. Frank Plummer Researcher of the Year Award - 2018
Interests: Baseball, Hockey, Golf, and going to the Cottage




Laboratory Manager/Research Associate:
Dr. Julie Lajoie
Hometown: Louiseville, Québec

  • PhD with Honours in 2010 from the Université de Montréal.
  • 2010, Post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Keith Fowke’s Lab at the University of Manitoba.
  • Graduate of the International Infectious Disease and Global Health Training Program.
Research Project:
  • Effective sex hormones on HIV susceptibility
  • Role of blocking inflammation in HIV prevention


  • Frank Plummer Research Associate Research Award - 2018
  • Grand challenge Canada Star in Global Health phase I and II grant

Interests: Baking

 Steve Laboratory Technician
Stephen Wayne
Hometown: Winnipeg, MB

  • BSc (honours) in Microbiology, 1986
Research Project:
  • Influenza luminex bead assays
Interests: Hockey, Cars, Model Railroading, Food



Laboratory Technician:
Natasha Hollett

Program Coordinator: International Infectious Disease and Global Health Training Program (IID&GHTP)

Coordinator: Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Program (QES-2017)

Hometown: Clarenville, Newfoundland

  • MSc (Immunology and Infectious Diseases), 2008 Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)
  • BEd. (Post-Secondary), 2008, MUN
  • BSc. (Biology/Physicology), 2005, MUN

Awards: President’s Award of Excellence - 2019

Sports, Food, and Wine





Allison Balasko PhD Student Hometown: Winnipeg, MB

Education: I received my undergraduate degree of Honours in Microbiology at the University of Manitoba and am currently an MD/PhD student in the U of M College of Medicine. Currently a trainee of the International Infectious Disease & Global Health Training Program.

Research Project: My project focuses on understanding and reversing immune exhaustion in chronic HIV infection. More specifically, I study immune exhaustion markers, such as LAG-3 and PD-1, on immune cells like T, NK and iNKT cells to understand how these exhaustion markers affect immune cell function in people living chronically with HIV; are these immune cells too exhausted to function normally? Can we reverse this immune exhaustion resulting in a healthier immune response?

Awards: Vanier Doctoral Scholarship, CIHR Masters Scholarship, 2019 UM Emerging Leader, 2018 Student Affairs Participation Award

Interests: Basketball (U of M Varsity alumna, Go Bisons!), Biking, Hiking, Boating. Basically, anything outdoors!




Colin Graydon PhD Candidate Hometown: Surrey, BC

  • Current – PhD candidate, Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases
  • Past – BSc, Microbiology & Immunology, University of British Columbia
  • Training programs – International Infectious Disease & Global Health Training Program

Research Project:
Colin is investigating the mechanism and expression of LAG-3, a protein that suppresses the immune system. He studies LAG-3 from the perspective of HIV infection, but what is discovered may have implications in tuberculosis, cancer, autoimmunity, allergy, and vaccine research.

  • Nancie J Mauro Graduate Scholarship in Oncology Research ($6250)  2019
  • CSHRF Prize for Excellence, Canadian Student Health Research Forum ($200)        2018
  • Paul Fortier Prize for Student Activism, U of M Faculty Association ($500) 2018
  • U of M Grad Student Travel Award, U of M      ($750)  2014 & 2018
  • U of M Emerging Leader Award                      2016 & 2018
  • 3 Minute Thesis 3rd place for University of Manitoba ($250) Feb.-Mar. 2017
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Student Scholarship, CIHR  ($150,000)  2016-2019
  • Research Manitoba MSc Award, Research Manitoba/U of M  ($35,700) 2015-2016
  • Department of Medical Microbiology: Best MSc Student Seminar ($100) 2016

  • Student leadership – Former President/Vice President Academic of the Health Sciences Graduate Association, and former Vice President of the department’s student council.
  • Debate – Founded the Health Sciences Debate Club
  • Rugby – Played 13 years, including on the UBC Varsity team



Monika Kowatsch PhD Student

Hometown: Winnipeg MB


Current Degree: PhD in Medical Microbiology from the university of Manitoba

Past Degree: BSc in Microbiology form the University of Manitoba

Training Program: IID&GHTP trainee

Research Project: Monika’s research focuses how immune status relates to the risk of HIV acquisition with projects looking at how immune activation induced through solvent use relates to HIV risk as well as how the induction of a resting immune state can help protect individuals from HIV.

Awards: CIHR silver poster award (2019)
Manitoba Medical Service Foundation (MMSF) poster and travel awards (2019)
University of Manitoba Graduate Student travel award (2018)
Mark Wainberg travel award (2018, 2019)
Mucosal Immunology Symposium best poster presentation (2017)
Student Research Seminar best presentation (2017 and 2018)
Student Journal Club Presentation best presentation (2017)
Canadian Students Health Research Forum Manitoba poster presentation award (2016)
Student Journal Club Presentation best rookie presentation (2016)
Student Research Seminar best rookie presentation (2016)

Scholarships:University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship (2018-2020), Graduate Enhancement of Tri-Council Stipends (2017-2018), Research Manitoba Graduate Fellowship – Masters Studentship (2016-2017), Graduate Enhancement of Tri-Council Stipends (2016-2017)

Interests: Crocheting and Knitting, Canoeing and Kayaking, Gardening, Water polo

  Kenneth Omollo PhD Student Hometown:


Current Degree: PhD in University of Nairobi

Past Degree:

Training Program: IID&GHTP trainee
Lucy Lucy Mwangi PhD Student Home town: Nairobi, Kenya

  • PhD.Student (Medical Microbiology-Viral Immunology); University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • MSc. Tropical and Infectious Diseases; University of Nairobi Institute of Tropical & Infectious Diseases, Kenya
  • BSc. Medical Laboratory Science; Kenyatta University, Kenya

Training Programs:

  • CIHR International Infectious Diseases & Global Health Training Program Infectious Diseases and Global Health University of Manitoba, Canada
  • Flow Cytometry Training HVTN &University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • International Clinical Micro-Research Training Dalhousie University, Canada & University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • Global Health Leadership & Management University of Washington/University of Nairobi
Research Project:
  • Use of Anti-inflammatory Drugs to Induce Immune Quiescence and Limit number of HIV Target Cells in the Female Genital Tract.

  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholar - 2016

  • Infectious diseases and clinical research, global health
 Gillian Gillian McIvor Hometown: Winnipeg

Education: Current student in the Faculty of Science, Biological Sciences

Research Project
: Sunshine House project with Monika Kowatsch as Mentor

Awards: Undergraduate Research Award, PIKE-Net Internship award

Interests: Camping, Hiking, anything outdoors!
Shifa Shifa Mohideen Hometown: Lake Louise, AB

Education: BSc Honours Microbiology at University of Manitoba, Masters Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at University of Manitoba

Research Project: Studying how the inhibitory receptor, LAG-3, causes functional unresponsiveness in many immune cells in the context of HIV infection. Understanding the mechanistic basis of its expression dynamics and signal transduction can better inform targeted immunotherapies.

Awards: Leader of Tomorrow Scholar, The Mindel and Tom Olenick Medal for Highest Standing in Honours Microbiology

Interests: hiking, origami, skiing, quantum physics, collard greens