Manitoba HIV Research Group University of Manitoba



Overview | History | Location and Map


Fundamental questions in the field of infectious diseases are: “What host factors are involved in determining whether an individual exposed to an agent becomes infected?”; “Why is disease caused by infectious agents more severe in some individuals?”; and “What are the pathogen determinants of virulence and pathogenesis?”. The answers to these questions are complex and multiple host and pathogen factors are likely interacting to result in a given infectious disease outcome in human populations. The answers include the characteristics of individuals (genetic background, behaviour, past experience, other infections), the characteristics of the human population (age, genetic makeup, cultural practices, level of development), the characteristics of the micro-organism (virulence, cellular tropism) and a host of factors that govern the population-individual-micro-organism interaction (environment, presence of vectors, routes of transmission, transmissibility, duration of infection). In the end these questions can only be answered through complex studies of human populations examining multiple interacting host and pathogen factors simultaneously. Addressing these complex and fundamental questions for HIV-1 are the central themes of the Resistance and Susceptibility to infectious Diseases Group’s studies.

During the past 25 years, not only has the Group made important research contributions, but it has established expertise, infrastructure and research populations, so that it is uniquely poised to address extremely important questions on the biology of STI. The Team is led by scientists from The University of Manitoba. The members are: Dr. Francis A. Plummer, group leader (epidemiology and immunobiology of infectious diseases); Dr. Stephen Moses (epidemiology and control of infectious diseases); Dr. Keith Fowke (cellular immunology and genetics) and Dr. Xiao Jian Yao (molecular virology and viral pathogenesis).

The HIV and Human genetics Group conducts research to:

  1. identify genetic correlates of resistance and susceptibility to HIV-1 infection;
  2. to understand host and viral factors in HIV infection and disease progression; and
  3. to study host and viral interactions.

The people in the HIV and Human Genetics Group: Many people including research associates, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, graduate students, co-op students and B. Sc med students are working in the group at the lab in National Microbiology Laboratory.

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In 1980, the University of Manitoba and the University of Nairobi embarked on a small collaborative research program on chancroid and Haemophilus ducreyi. Over time, this collaboration has been built into a major international initiative for the study of infectious diseases. Centred on the initial University of Manitoba-University of Nairobi collaboration, this initiative now includes scientists from nine institutions (five Canadian institutions including the University of Manitoba, Health Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the Université de Montreal and Université Laval). In addition to the University of Nairobi, the non-Canadian institutions include the University of Oxford, UK, the University of Washington, U.S.A., and the University of Ghent, Belgium. This collaboration is regarded internationally as the model for collaborative international research. The collaboration’s research interests are extremely broad, particularly in research on HIV and sexually transmitted infections. This highly successful international collaboration was gradually formed by building research capacities and programs on areas of strength and expansion into areas of comparative advantage.

The collaboration’s research has been transformative, consistently producing results that challenge conventions and shifts paradigms. These paradigm shifts include: the recognition of the importance and mechanisms of heterosexual transmission of HIV; the importance of commercial sex in HIV transmission dynamics and in HIV prevention; the role of male circumcision in protecting against HIV infection; the significance of post-natal mother to child HIV transmission through breastfeeding; and finally, the recognition that there is biologic resistance to HIV infection, probably mediated immunologically. This body of work has had much to do with shaping the current understanding of the global HIV pandemic. At the same time, these research findings have been translated by the collaborative group into highly effective interventions, which now prevent many thousands of HIV infections in Africa, India, Thailand and Cambodia. Simultaneously, the collaborative project has developed an impressive cadre of young Kenyan, European, American and Canadian scientists.

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The Manitoba Resistance and Susceptibility to Infection group is located in two buildings near the Health Sciences complex in the northwest central part of the city: the National Microbiology Lab and the Basic Medical Science Building. Both buildings are within easy walking distance of each other.

Medical Microbiology

Address: 730 William Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3E 0W3

Plummer Lab (Ball): Room 507
Fowke Lab: Room 539
Moses Lab: Room 503
Yao Lab: Room 508

National Microbiology Lab

Address: 1015 St. Arlington, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3E 3R2


From Winnipeg International Airport: Head east on Wellington Ave. and then turn turn north on Arlington. If heading to the National Microbiology Lab keep heading north until Elgin Ave. If heading to the Medical Microbiology lab turn right on William Ave.


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Page last modified: 31/08/2009