SickKids scientist receives CFI grant in support of cutting-edge immunotherapy research
Today, the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) announced new research infrastructure funding to support research led by Dr. Jean-Philippe Julien, a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Medicine program at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).
By combining newly funded equipment with existing facilities and equipment at SickKids Research Institute, Julien aims to describe the structures of antibody-antigen complexes relevant to infectious diseases and immunotherapies.
Antibodies are an integral part of our immune system that bind to antigens, such as parasites, bacteria and viruses, to neutralize them and prevent them from establishing infections. They can also be developed to provide immunotherapy targeting specific cells that are implicated in autoimmune diseases and cancers, a key goal underlying Julien’s research.
“This CFI funding will help support new cutting-edge instruments that will expand our current capabilities in biophysics and structural biology. By uncovering the molecular structure and function of antibodies, we can provide a roadmap for scientists to design improved vaccines and treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases,” says Julien, whose Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Structural Immunology was recently renewed.
The CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), in partnership with the CRCs Program, awarded the research team almost $800,000 in funding over five years. The infrastructure will be hosted at the Structural & Biophysical Core Facility, a centralized repository of advanced scientific instruments at SickKids.
One disease Julien’s work examines is malaria, which is spread through Plasmodium parasites carried by mosquitos. Widespread infections by these parasites result in more than 280,000 deaths globally each year in children under five years old. Through this research, the Julien Lab at SickKids seeks to design new vaccines to prevent, and potentially eradicate, malaria.
“Malaria cases are on the rise,” says Julien. “With this funding, we can invest in state-of-the-art equipment for research that aims to make an impact for children and communities both here in Canada and around the world.”
Learn more about the latest round of CFI funding on the CFI website.