Research Associates and Postdoctoral Fellows
Name Details
Research Associates (RA)  

Ao, Zhujun (HIV)


RA for Dr. Yao
Department of Medical Microbiology 745 Bannatyne Avenue, Room 508, Basic Medical Science Building, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9
Tel: (204) 977-5677; Lab: (204)789-3983; Fax: (204) 789-3926

 Dr. Ao obtained her M.D. and M.Sc. degrees respectively at Zunyi Medical University and Tonji Medical University in China. She received her Ph.D. in Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Montreal in 2007. Since then she has worked as postdoctoral and senior research associate in the Laboratory of Molecular Human Retrovirology, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Manitoba. Dr. Ao has many years of research experience with more than 30 publications in high impact scientific journals including J Virol, JBC, J Mol Biol, Hum Gene Ther, Retrovirology, Mol. The.-Nuc.Acids., Antimicrob. Agents Ch. and Plos ONE. Her main research area is the interactions between HIV and host and their roles during HIV replication. She also is interesting in developing new strategies to reactivate HIV latent reservoir for HIV-1cure.

Hai, Yan

Degree and previous research: PhD in Human Genetics ( Peking Union Medical College, Tsinghua University). I studied molecular signaling mechanisms regulating cancer, heart diseases and Diabetes.

Current research: I am working in Dr. Ma Luo’s Group whose interest is focused on development and evaluation of new approaches of HIV vaccine.

Hobbies: I am always fascinated by the mystery of DNA. I love to search around all info about mystery of DNA which is likely the most advanced quantum computer in the universe. If it is true, every biological being then has this computing system installed in their lives. This hobby has been driven by a challenging question: who is the user of the computer?

Lajoie, Julie


RA for Dr. Fowke
Laboratory of Viral Immunology
Department of Medical Microbiology Room 539 - 745 Bannatye Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9
Tel: (204) 789-3818 Fax: (204) 789-3926

In 2000, Dr. Julie Lajoie received her B.Sc in Sciences Biologiques from the University of Montreal. She then began a Master degree at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal under the supervision of Dr. Michel Roger. Her MSc thesis aimed to identify polymorphisms in the TAP1/2 gene associated with susceptibility to HIV in Zimbabween women. From 2003-2005, Dr. Lajoie worked as a research assistant in Dr. Roger’s lab. In 2005, she started her PhD where she analyzed how HLA-G and the mucosal inflammatory environment impacted the susceptibility to HIV infection. Her worked led to the discovery of new HLA-G alleles and six publications. She completed her PhD with Honours in 2010 from the Université de Montréal. In 2010, Dr. Lajoie began her post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Keith Fowke’s Lab at the University of Manitoba. She also graduated from the International Infectious Disease and Global Health Training Program. Dr. Lajoie is currently a Research Associate in Dr. Fowke’s lab. She received a Grand challenge Canada Star in Global Health phase I grant to determine if anti-inflammatories such as aspirin can mimic the immune quiescence phenotype observed in HIV exposed seronegative female sex workers and help prevent HIV infection.

Inducing resistance to HIV infection on Youtube
Post-doctoral Fellows (PDF)

Di Curzio, Domenico (Dom)


Dr. Domenico (Dom) Di Curzio is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Lyle McKinnon.  He was born and raised in Winnipeg, where he completed most of his education and research training.  He recently finished a postdoctoral fellowship with the Department of Pathology at the University of Manitoba examining the neurological condition hydrocephalus and determining potential supplemental treatments for this condition.  Before acquiring his current position, his academic background has been enriching and varied.  He first completed his Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology with a minor in Conflict Resolution at the University of Winnipeg.  This was followed by a Master of Science in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.  Upon returning home to Winnipeg, he completed his Ph. D. at the University of Manitoba in Human Anatomy & Cell Science with a focus on Neuropathology. 

Over his academic experience, Dr. Di Curzio has been fortunate to receive several awards and honours, as well as numerous publications to date through neuroscience research and collaboration.  He is also an instructor/lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Winnipeg, where he has enjoyed teaching students courses in Statistics, Research Methods, and Brain and Behaviour. 

For his current position in the McKinnon Lab, he is working on a project with lab members involving collaborations with a gastroenterologist and gynecologist acquiring tissue samples from patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Together, they are examining the tissue, cellular, and genetic changes associated with treating these patients with a gut-selective monoclonal antibody medication called Vedolizumab that is classified as a biologic response modifier and anti-inflammatory drug that specifically blocks the integrin α4β7.  This study will examine the effectiveness of Vedolizumab treatment within the context of IBD providing important immunobiological information about α4β7 blockade in humans.  With Dr. McKinnon, they want to translate the results towards potential use of Vedolizumab in HIV patients, as α4β7 is shown to be an important predictor of HIV acquisition and disease progression.  Therefore, a better understanding of gut immune cell homing in the context of IBD could have direct relevance for understanding important aspects of HIV pathogenesis and possible clinical benefits of α4β7 blockade using Vedolizumab for both IBD and HIV. 

Li, Hongzhao

Degree and previous research: PhD (Immunology, Manitoba). I studied cellular signaling mechanisms regulating the migration of malignant B lymphocytes.

Current research: I am working in Dr. Ma Luo’s Group on the development and evaluation of new HIV vaccine approaches.

Hobbies: My family and I love our great outdoors of Manitoba, hiking, swimming, canoeing, skiing and more. Last summer, we rescued a painted turtle crossing a highway (You know they are slow!) in Whiteshell Provincial Park. He/she (?) was safely carried back home to the nearby marsh, and was friendly reminded to not cross the road anymore!

Liu, Guodong

I am a currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Dr. Qiu’s laboratory located at the National Microbiology Laboratory. I received my PhD in the Department of Physiology, University of Manitoba in 2013. I completed my first PDF appointment with Dr. Jim Davie at the CancerCare Manitoba.

I am interested in studying emerging and re-emerging biosafety level (BSL) 3 and 4 viruses. A major focus is to develop and evaluate therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against filovirus. In addition, also interested in molecular pathogenesis of filoviral diseases.

Omange, Were


Research Interests
Innate immunity related to protection or acquisition of viral infectious diseases particularly, HIV. Emerging infectious disease and HIV vaccine development using non-human primate and mouse models.

Expertise: Immunology.

Affiliation: HIV and Host Genetics Laboratory, J.C. Wilt Infectious Diseases Research Centre

Rahim, Md Niaz

I received my PhD from the University of Manitoba in 2017. My PhD project was focused on Influenza A virus-host interactions. I am currently working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Microbiology Laboratory (Special Pathogens Program), Public Health Agency of Canada. My research focus is to determine the efficacy of newly developed Pan-Filovirus T cell Vaccine designed as Bi-valant Conserved Region Epigraphs in mouse and non-human primate (NHP) model. I am also assessing the anti-viral activity of small molecules and pan-EBOLA monoclonal antibody cocktails against different ebolavirus in mouse, guinea pig and NHP models.

Sivro, Aida

Dr. Aida Sivro is trained in infectious diseases immunology and epidemiology, with a focus on better understanding protective immunity against HIV infection within key populations in sub-Saharan Africa. She obtained her PhD in October 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Frank Plummer and Dr. Blake Ball at the University of Manitoba studying the immune determinants of HIV susceptibility. Her PhD project involved studying naturally occurring variants of IRF1 gene, a pivotal transcriptional regulator in the host immune response against HIV-1 infection. Currently, her postdoctoral work at the University of Manitoba and Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) focuses on understanding the mucosal determinants of HIV transmission in the context of large HIV prevention trials, with a particular focus on understanding transmission dynamics in young women and men who have sex with men, groups disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. Her specific research focus include interferon signaling and lymphocyte trafficking and integrin a4b7 in the context of HIV and TB infections. Throughout her training Aida has received numerous awards and scholarships including the New Investigator Award at the CAHR 2016.
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