Ongoing Projects

Mechanism of innate and adaptive immune development in human neonates 
We are experts in scaled down immunoassays to characterize the immunological phenotype of infants born between 24 weeks to full-term, and during the neonatal period. We employ both molecular and human cell-based immunology approaches. Our current focus is on the maturation of innate immune Pattern Recognition Receptor (PRR) pathways and on neonatal T cell differentiation. 

To support research we developed the BC Women’s Hospital Preemie Biobank, the first biobank dedicated to infants born below 33 weeks of gestation in Canada, in partnership with the BC Children’s Hospital Biobank and the Women’s Health Research Institute (WHRI).

Immunity to natural viral exposure in high-risk newborns 
RSV and influenza are two main causes of Lower Respiratory Tract Infection (LRTI) in young infants. Newborns are naïve to these viruses and less responsive to vaccines against influenza, the common cause of flu. In this study, we aim to understand how infants respond to active or passive immunization against common respiratory viruses in terms of their antibody responses. 

Improving the early diagnosis of neonatal sepsis in Malawi
Sepsis (e.g. severe infections) is a main cause of mortality worldwide in low/middle outcome countries. Diagnosis of neonatal sepsis can be challenging in newborns due to the difficulty in recognizing warning signs especially for non-expert health workers. In this study, we aim to understand the clinical presentation and epidemiology of neonatal sepsis at Kamuzu Central Hospital in a main pediatric hospital center in Malawi. We also work to understand how host response immune signatures between infants with versus those without sepsis in order to improve diagnosis and medical management.

Inflammation and neonatal outcomes in premature infants
Analysis is currently underway for the MOBYDICK Canadian multi-centre randomized clinical trial to determine whether maternal omega-3 supplementation effectively reduces bronchopulmonary dysplasia in very preterm infants. 

SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in asymptomatic individuals
To determine if someone has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, testing for antibodies in blood could be useful. People with mild disease can develop antibodies within about a week. The process through which people develop antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 (like any other virus) is called seroconversion. Antibodies generally last for months after an infection. For SARS-CoV-2, we do not know for sure how long these antibodies last, and to what extent they can recognize other coronaviruses (i.e. cross-reactive), including common ones, and finally if these antibodies confer protection against future disease occurrence. This research aims to address some of these scientific knowledge gaps.

Tracking COVID-19 for safer schools
The main objective of this study is to determine the extent to which school workers can be exposed to COVID-19 as part of their occupation. Results of this study will be used to develop strategies to help make Canadian schools safer for everyone.