Welcome to MI4
Infectious and immune diseases remain one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century. Clinicians, researchers and educators at McGill University and its affiliated hospital research institutes have long been at the forefront of the fight against these conditions. As clinician-scientists working both at the university and in the hospital setting, we have had the opportunity to work with many of these groups, and to learn that their efforts have often been compartmentalized by disease, by research approach, or by administrative geography. To bring these different groups together, we held a number of consultations and brainstorming events, culminating in the first McGill-wide Infection and Immunity forum in November 2017. The take-home messages from these events were clear. First, there is a wealth of underappreciated talent in this research space with over 200 principal investigators focused on infectious or immune diseases, of which nearly 100 are clinician-scientists / clinician-investigators. Second, while there are incredible opportunities for synergistic interactions between groups with complementary expertise, investigators need support to connect and build interdisciplinary research teams that span the larger McGill community. The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity, or MI4, has been conceived to bring together these many talented scientists, with the goal of developing new solutions for infectious and immune diseases and delivering these solutions to the patients and populations who need them most.
Shortly after our official launch in 2018, we have been faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to this challenge, MI4 helped lead the rapid and strategic response of McGill investigators and clinicians in pivoting our research capacity to meet this global threat. MI4-initiatives include the development of the MI4 Clinical Research Platform (CRP)—an inter-institutional clinical trials unit at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Jewish General Hospital (JGH) that supports clinical trials of new therapies for COVID-19; and the MI4 Hot Zone Level 3 Laboratories at the Research Institute of the MUHC (RI-MUHC) and McGill University campus where investigators can safely conduct studies with live SARS-CoV-2 virus in pre-clinical models. With MI4 support, our investigators rapidly launched 65 COVID-19 research projects, including studies of viral transmission, novel testing strategies, drug and vaccine development, clinical trials and the mental health and social impacts of public health lockdown measures. Many of these projects have already been completed and their findings have helped shape our medical and public policy responses to the epidemic.
MI4 researchers have also played important leadership roles in the federal and provincial response to COVID-19, including the development of CanCOVID, the Quebec COVID-19 Biobank and the Canadian COVID-19 Immunity Taskforce, and serving as advisors to Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Quebec Santé Public and Canada’s Chief Science Officer.
Going forward, MI4 is committed to building on our success, both in preparing ourselves for the next pandemic, and tackling the many other challenges in the infection and immunity space that have been sidelined due to the focus on COVID-19.
We are excited to continue this journey, and hope you will continue to work with us to shape MI4 to best support our community.
Co-Director (Immunity), MI4
Founding Director, MI4