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A research collective

Earlier this year, the Faculty of Medicine’s Infection, Immunity, Inflammation, and Vaccinology (I3V) team held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the Dalhousie University campus. Made up of researchers from Dal and other affiliated health organizations, the I3V team’s mission is to develop new approaches to preventing and treating infectious diseases, chronic inflammation, and cancer.

The I3V team is a large and diverse group of researchers and clinicians with a multitude of strengths. They serve to harness the power of the human immune system to combat some of the most detrimental diseases and disorders faced around the world and to better understand how it impacts our health.

Dr. Jean Marshall, Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University, and executive member of I3V, calls the team a collective for scientific exchange. “The strength of our group is in our diversity, ability to be flexible, and work together to solve problems,” she says. Having a team like I3V encourages collaboration and an exchange of ideas across the wide variety of interests that fall within the parameters of the group.

In good hands

The July 5th AGM featured 40 trainees presenting their work to an enthusiastic audience. “There was so much energy in the room,” recalls Dr. Marshall, “I know the future of science is in good hands.” Mentored by I3V team members, the research trainees presenting at the AGM all conduct research aligning with one or more of the four I3V streams. Ranging from cancer to autoimmune disorders, from social science and health equity to virology, they are passionate, engaged, and motivated in their work. “Supporting new investigators is the way forward,” says Dr. Marshall.

The future of the I3V team is bold and exciting. With new areas of research that are taking a global health perspective in alignment with UN Development Goals, the momentum for I3V research at Dalhousie is strong. Although the financial ecosystem is rocky in today’s economic climate, when it comes to research funding, researchers remain optimistic. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the opportunity to collaborate face to face, work together to apply for larger operating funds, and exchange knowledge across international communities is on the horizon. But none of it would be possible without support from Dalhousie donors.

The impact of philanthropy

“Simply put, the I3V team would not exist without donor funds,” Dr. Marshall says. While operations funding is often found through other channels, the vital funding support for research trainees and post-doctoral fellows often rely on gifts from donors and is an area of great need. “When we’re able to fund scientists and train future research leaders, we can attract the best people to Dalhousie—which leads to better healthcare.”

Most families have someone who suffers from an immune-based disease or disorder—be it allergies, cancer, heart disease, or arthritis. “The potential for what we can do is enormous,” says Dr. Marshall. “If we can fine-tune our understanding of the human immune system, it would have massive impact on patients with chronic diseases—it would allow for better overall healthcare, improved prevention, the development of vaccines, and more.”

A passionate and eclectic group of scientists, the I3V team invites you to attend a seminar, tour a lab, or meet a researcher to learn more about their exciting endeavours, and how you can play a part. Connect with the Faculty of Medicine team to learn more.