Infectious and immune-mediated diseases are a major threat to human health. Despite the advances made by 20th century medicine, the most recent global burden of disease study reported that almost 9 million people died from infections in 2015. In 2020, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on our continued vulnerability to infectious diseases, and their importance to our physical, mental and economic wellbeing as a society. As the COVID-19 vaccines have demonstrated, an effective immune response is our best defence against infectious diseases. However, inappropriate immune responses underlie the development of inflammatory and allergic diseases including arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma. Also, there is mounting evidence that the frequency of immune-mediated diseases is increasing world-wide, compounding the global crisis of chronic diseases. MI4 therefore supports research to develop novel solutions to four key challenges:
The advances made by modern medicine are built on a foundation of effective antibiotic therapy. These successes are now threatened by the spectre of a post-antimicrobial era. Major emerging challenges include Clostridium difficile, carbapenem-resistant/ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae, azole-resistant fungi, malaria, and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).
MI4 Theme Leaders - Antimicrobial Resistance
(Albert Berghuis, David Juncker, Makeda Semret)
Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases
The COVID-19 pandemic provided a deadly lesson on the impact of emerging infections – both in direct illness and as a cause of economic and social disruption. Charting our way to a post-COVID-19 world, and preparing for the next pandemic are key priorities for MI4 investigators.
MI4 Theme Leaders - Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases
(Armando Jardim, Silvia Vidal, Cedric Yansouni)
Infectious Diseases in Vulnerable Populations
Socioeconomic disparity, conflicts and mass migration have increased the number of individuals at risk for infectious diseases. Innovative strategies are needed to reach specific groups at risk including Indigenous and northern populations; refugees and immigrants; and resource-poor countries with a high burden of TB, parasitic disease and HIV.
MI4 Theme Leaders - Infectious Diseases in Vulnerable Populations:
(Christina Greenaway, Faiz Ahmad Khan, Marina Klein)
Diseases of Altered Immunity
The host factors that govern autoimmune and inflammatory diseases exhibit striking overlap with those responsible for resistance to infection. Consequently, new immunomodulatory therapies that combat these inflammatory diseases have greatly expanded the population of immunocompromised patients at risk for opportunistic infections.
MI4 Theme Leaders - Diseases of Altered Immunity:
(Marie Hudson, Wilson Miller, Ciriaco Piccirillo)