Subject: IIDR eNews - September 15th, 2020

IIDR Newsletter - Issue 40
September 15th, 2020
The Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats
The Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threatsled by IIDR director Gerry Wright, is an initiative to ensure that Canada and the world are better able to manage the human and economic devastation of COVID-19 and avert future pandemics.

Generous $2 million investment from Canadian philanthropist Stephen Jarislowsky accelerates impact of new nexus for pandemics and biological threats research

The Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Pandemic Research and Prevention is a cornerstone of the recently launched Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats, an international network of McMaster researchers and other partners with a single goal: preventing future pandemics and mitigating global health threats like antimicrobial resistance.

Preventing the next pandemic

September 12 - 28.3 million cases worldwide. More than 900,000 deaths. Given the devastating medical, economic and social impacts of the current coronavirus outbreak, MacTalks is launching an online conversation with a focus on the future: preventing the next pandemic.
$2 million gift to help McMaster fight pandemics in Hamilton and abroad

September 10 - “COVID has exposed the world’s vulnerabilities and we need to bring expertise together in new ways,” says McMaster president David Farrar, who states that the gift will have a galvanizing impact on plans for the pandemic research network.
McMaster University creates an anti-pandemic network

September 2 - McMaster University is creating and leading an anti-pandemic network that will help avert future ones. Gerry Wright, who is quarterbacking the network, explains what this will entail.
IIDR Insights on COVID-19
A vaccine may not be the simple solution we are hoping for

September 14 The narrative has been consistent: vaccination will facilitate our path back to normalcy. However, it is important to consider that a vaccine may not automatically equal the end of COVID-19. Co-author Zain Chagla explains. 
COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 & Back to School

September 3 - After fielding many questions from local teachers & parents about SARS-CoV-2 & back-to-school practices, Dawn Bowdish created a video to help educate the public and clear up misconceptions.
Saliva tests could be the key to crushing this pandemic

September 2 - New forms of rapid, non-invasive, saliva-based tests that can be administered by anyone could allow us to eliminate COVID-19, says Eric Brown in his recent Globe and Mail opinion piece.
Do harms outweigh the benefits of making young children wear masks?

August 31 Jeffrey Pernica spoke to the Globe and Mail about how masks may interfere with communication in young children.
Health care workers prepare for possible 'twindemic' this fall — a double whammy of COVID-19 and flu

August 28 Mark Loeb told the National Post that the extent to which people keep social distancing and masking will be important for both COVID-19 and the flu.
Canadians could join clinical trials for new COVID-19 vaccine

August 28 Mark Loeb spoke on CHML's Bill Kelly Show about a potential vaccine that was developed using computer modelling and artificial intelligence that could be tested in Hamilton in Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. 
Making surfaces repellent to bacteria and viruses with Repel Wrap

August 12 - In Episode 3 of the Big Ideas for a Changing World podcast, Leyla Soleymani and Tohid Didar share the latest on their bacteria- and virus-repellent plastic wrap and its potential use during the pandemic. 

How does COVID-19 spread? The controversy and the evidence

August 12 - Jessica Bartoszko and Mark Loeb
 published an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail about airborne transmission of COVID-19.
Why bats can survive diseases humans can't

August 6 - Many bat species have a remarkable resilience to some of nature's most deadly diseases. Arinjay Banerjee discusses what we know so far about the immune systems of bats and how it could impact future antiviral treatments.
32% of Canadians may hold off on getting eventual COVID-19 vaccine, survey shows

August 5 - About one third of Canadians want to hold off on getting an eventual vaccine for COVID-19, new survey results show. Matthew Miller spoke about the need for a widespread uptake of an eventual vaccine for COVID-19 to finally fizzle out.
How we can keep COVID down using ‘the Hammer and the Dance’

August 4 - At this phase in the outbreak it is safe to say we have passed the first wave. This opinion piece co-authored by Zain Chagla talks about recalibrating our goals and expectations during this pre-vaccine era to a world living with COVID-19.
On the frontlines of COVID-19 research: A lab leader shares his perspectives

July 21 
What causes the spread of COVID-19? Is the virus evolving? Andrew McArthur answers several questions related to his research on the novel coronavirus.

Asymptomatic spread could make the COVID-19 pandemic longer and worse

July 20 - A new statistical study co-led by Jonathan Dushoff may help dispel lingering doubts about whether to be concerned that people without COVID-19 symptoms are spreading the disease.

We're infectious disease experts, and 'eliminating' COVID won't happen any time soon

July 16 - "Elimination" refers to zero cases of COVID-19 in a particular geographic area, such as a country. Zain Chagla explains what it would take to get an infectious disease eliminated, and the likelihood of that happening with COVID-19. 


Two McMaster professors recognized by the Royal Society of Canada

September 8 - Mark Loeb and Dawn Bowdish, both professors of pathology and molecular medicine of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University, are being honoured by the Royal Society of Canada
ID / IIDR Rounds Webinar - Recording Available Online

September 2 - During this webinar, Jacqueline Wong (Pediatrics) presents her work on Clostridium difficile colonization in the pediatric context. Yingfu Li follows with a presentation on functional nucleic acid-based recognition elements for C. difficile.
Upcoming Events
Infectious Disease Regional Grand Rounds – “Why Should We Stick Our Nose in the Pneumococcus Business?”
September 16, 8 - 10 a.m.

This presentation, featuring Ron Dagan at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, will cover why nasopharyngeal carriage reduction is key to public health impact of the pediatric pneumococcal immunization programs. It will review the type, quality and duration of the immune response required to prevent pneumococcal carriage acquisition, as well as discuss how this knowledge may impact immunization program implementation. Contact Jeffrey Pernica at to receive the Zoom link.
MACTALKS: Preventing the Next Pandemic
September 16,
 7 - 8 p.m.

Join Gerry Wright and Maryn McKenna in conversation as they discuss innovative research and what it will take to prevent future pandemics. Register online here.

Public Lecture: COVID-19 - Seasonality, Transmission, and Protection
October 6, 7 p.m.

In this session, Mark Loeb will review the epidemiology of COVID-19 with respect to seasonality including the potential impact of influenza. Controversies over the mode of transmission and protection will be reviewed. Register online here.
IIDR Trainee Day 2020
November 11 - 13

IIDR Trainee Day has become the ideal forum to recognize and celebrate the innovative work of IIDR students and Postdoctoral Fellows. This year, the event will be held virtually over the course of 3 days using Zoom Webinar services. This event is open to all IIDR faculty, staff, undergraduate & graduate students, Postdoctoral Fellows, technicians, and clinicians. Find out about the awards, our Keynote speaker, registration details and more on the IIDR Trainee Day website.
Reports & Publications

JMB: Molecular Mechanisms in Integral Membrane Enzymology

This special issue of the Journal of Molecular Biology
, edited by Weikai Li, Russell Bishop, and Filippo Mancia, includes review articles and research related to the subject of Molecular Mechanisms in Integral Membrane Enzymology. Several of the included papers have a direct bearing on antibiotic resistance.

Combating Antimicrobial Resistance in Canada: Listening Session with Pharmacists to Inform Public Policy Incentives

Jessica Bartoszko, Kara Tsang, and the Canadian Anti-infective Innovation Network (CAIN) put together a detailed summary report from the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists Annual Conference.
Learn More >

Thousands of species in a speck of soil: Researchers develop new DNA recovery technique

September 12 - McMaster anthropologists have developed a new technique that pulls the genomes of hundreds of animals and thousands of plants - many of them long extinct - from less than a gram of soil, offering a much richer picture of the past than was previously possible.
Learn More >

Mastodons traveled vast distances across North America to adapt to climate change, says new research

September 1 - American mastodons migrated many times across thousands of miles up and down the North American continent over 800,000 years due to climate change, before going extinct 11,000 years ago, according to a new study in Nature Communications
Scientists trace and identify origin of smallpox vaccine strains used in Civil War

July 20 - Scientists and historians working at McMaster University, the Mütter Museum, and the University of Sydney have pieced together the genomes of old viruses that were used as vaccination strains during and after the American Civil War ultimately leading to the eradication of smallpox. 
Immunological considerations for COVID-19 vaccine strategies
Jobs & Opportunities
Postdoctoral Research Fellow 

Area of research: Kinetics of inactivation of botulinum spores by ultraviolet light
Closing date: Open until filled 
Expected start date: Immediately

An exciting opportunity exists to work with experts in the Canadian Botulism Reference Service located within Health Canada’s Tunney’s Pasture location in Ottawa. The successful candidate will be an essential part of a team evaluating the ultraviolet sensitivity of several organisms including phage, Clostridium sporogenes, and Clostridium botulinum. The objective of this work is to produce a publication on the UV disinfection of Clostridium botulinum strains, as well as that of non-pathogenic strains to be used as surrogates. Contact Dr. Michelle Gabriel at to learn more.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow 

Area of research: Genomics (SARS-CoV-2)
Closing date: Open until filled 
Expected start date: July 2020

Working with Dr. Robyn Lee and Dr. Andrew McArthur, the candidate will take a lead role in genomic epidemiology studies of SARS-CoV-2 in Canada. The Fellow will use a combination of bioinformatics, phylogenetics, and epidemiologic methods to investigate transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 in long-term care facilities, and potentially in other vulnerable populations in Ontario. Contact Dr. Andrew McArthur at for more information.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Area of research: Quantitative COVID research
Closing date: October 2020
Expected start date: N/A

The research group of Drs. Ben Bolker, David Earn and Jonathan Dushoff at McMaster University is looking for a post-doc to help with COVID-forecasting projects. This is a good opportunity to work on projects designed to inform public-health decision-making. The ideal candidate would have expertise in epidemiological modeling, statistical modeling of dynamical systems, and R programming. Find more information here.

The IIDR is now on LinkedIn! Connect with one another and learn more about the institute on our new company page
Christy Groves
Communications Coordinator

Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research
David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery

MDCL 2235 | McMaster University
Revisit past issues of the IIDR eNews here.

1280 Main St W, L8S 4L8, Hamilton, Canada
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.