Research interest

HIV Vaccine Development in the SIV Macaque Model using multi-low dose mucosal challenge, specifically to examine Herpesviruses such as Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) as lifelong reactivating vectors for HIV vaccine delivery.


Research affiliations

Research groups

Research summary

Dr. MacDonald's research experience spans the basic science realm where she works in small animal, nonhuman primate models and with human samples on immunopathogenesis and prevention research on HIV to the field of clinical epidemiology and clinical research trials where she examines clinical and behavioural correlates of risk factors associated with differential risk of STD and HIV acquisition and disease.

Her research focuses on pathogen-driven variation in host immune responses to HIV and its application in vaccine design. She supervises a research lab at the JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Centre as joint collaboration between the HIV program of the Canadian Public Health Agency and the University of Manitoba. She also conducts HIV vaccine and STD research in Nairobi, Kenya where she has worked for more than twenty-five years. She has two novel vaccine prototypes involving vaccine vectors from the herpes virus family (VZV and CMV), which aim at providing lifelong self-boosting immunity currently under study in non-human primates and humans as part of a CIHR Team in HIV vaccine design. She also studies mucosal factors affecting immunity and vaccine delivery such as the genital microbiome.


Kelly MacDonald is the Professor and the H.E. Sellers Research Chair in the department of internal medicine at the University of Manitoba. She was the head of the division of infectious diseases in the department of internal medicine at the University of Manitoba from 2015 to 2020. She came to Manitoba in 2015 after 20 years in Toronto where she was a microbiologist and held and endowed research chair and was the director of the HIV Research Program at the University of Toronto. She is presently a practicing infectious disease specialist and clinician-scientist.

Dr. MacDonald received a medical degree from the University of Manitoba and trained in internal medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is certified in microbiology and infectious diseases. She did post-doctoral research training at the Universities of Manitoba, Nairobi and Toronto. She was the inaugural holder of the University of Toronto- OHTN endowed chair in HIV research and was awarded the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award. Dr. MacDonald has served nationally on the Federal Ministerial Council on HIV/AIDS, the CIHR HIV/AIDS Advisory Committee and as a member of the Basic Science Advisory Committee for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).


Select awards

  • Member, Ministerial Council on HIV/AIDS to the Honorable Allan Rock, Minister of Health, Government of Canada. (Distinction) (1999-2000)
  • Ethan Rubinstein Memorial Award, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada (Research Award, Specialty: Medical Microbiology) (2018-2018) Senior Clinician Scientist Achievement Award for Sustained Research Productivity
  • Manitoba Medical Students' Association Class of 2020 Faculty Mentorship Award, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba (Undergraduate MD, Year 3) (2019-2020)
  • Senior Career Scientist Award, Ontario HIV Treatment Network (Distinction) (2016)

Contact us

Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME)
Max Rady College of Medicine
260 Brodie Centre, 727 McDermot Avenue
University of Manitoba (Bannatyne campus)
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5 Canada