New Centre for Human Immunology at Western

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By Communications Staff
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Why is it that some people pick up every cold or flu virus going around, while others can be in the same room with those people and yet never get sick?
 
Our immune system plays a huge role in our health, and yet researchers still can’t define what is normal for the immune system. The new Centre for Human Immunology announced today at The University of Western Ontario will generate knowledge about the immune system and how it mediates our health in relation to infections, inflammation and chronic diseases.
 
 
Centre for Human Immunology Director Bhagirath Singh.
 
 
The centre is a city-wide, multi-disciplinary initiative led by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Lawson Health Research Institute, and based at the Siebens-Drake Medical Research Institute.  
 
“This Centre will act as a catalyst to increase our understanding of immune health from genes and molecules to patient-care,” says the centre’s director Bhagirath Singh, former Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity.  
 
“The objective is to become a world-class leader in defining a healthy immune system. But we also want to translate that knowledge into effective public policies with local, national and global impact.”  
 
The initial 17 members of the centre will work to better understand the human immune system so that better vaccines against infections and cancer, improved organ transplantation, and new therapies for allergies and autoimmune diseases such as juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis can be developed.  
 
Their work will also provide information and evidence for the development of public policies dealing with such issues as bacterial or viral outbreaks and vaccines, healthy aging, safe food and water, and organ donations.
 
“The establishment of this Centre at Western is based upon a long history of scientific and clinical excellence in immunology in London,” says Western President Amit Chakma. “We can look to the many firsts in the organ transplant program for examples including the introduction of the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine back in the 1980s, right up to the current work being done at Western on a vaccine for HIV/AIDS. This new centre holds tremendous promise to improve human health, and public health policies.”

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