Summer Update from CIHR-III Scientific Director, Dr. Charu Kaushic

Dear Colleagues,

Connecting with IAB members, CIHR & III staff, and invited guests and speakers at our last IAB meeting at Vancouver’s UBC campus (May 2023).

Happy summer! I hope you are all well and taking some time for rest and self-care. Our Infection and Immunity community has been on the front lines of COVID-19 through a very challenging three years, both professionally and personally. Although there is still work to be done around the long-term impacts of COVID-19 — and another uncertain winter coming up — I am hopeful as we slowly return to more normal times. A good sign is how busy spring has been with travel, full of in-person meetings and events where the staff and I have been able to connect with so many of you after several years. The Institute Advisory Board (IAB) meeting in Vancouver was a highlight of the spring, with all members attending to participate in strategic discussions and provide thoughtful advice. We are very grateful for the time commitment of these leaders from our research community.

Enjoying the fantastic talks and posters at the CIHR-III & UBC “Meet the Community” event (May 2023).

In addition to in-person events, the launch of some of the flagship funding initiatives from the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity (CIHR-III) has kept us on our toes in the last six months. We are particularly proud of the transformative CIHR Research Excellence, Diversity, and Independence (REDI) Early Career Transition Award program, which aims to increase the diversity of highly qualified health researchers with independent research careers in Canada. CIHR-III engaged in diverse, strategic, and personalized outreach for this funding opportunity that resulted in remarkable interest and enthusiasm from the research community and excellent application pressure from young researchers from underrepresented communities. Currently, we have 16 internal and external partners on this initiative, for a total of 43 awards to be given out later this year — a resounding show of support for which we are extremely grateful.

Celebrating National Immunization Awareness Week with a $2.4M investment in CIHR-CEPI Leadership Awards in pandemic vaccines (April 2023).

In April, we were pleased to announce the recipients of the Leadership Awards for Excellence in Vaccine Research, which recognized the achievements of six Canadian researchers pursuing vaccine research projects in epidemic and pandemic preparedness, five in collaboration with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). I would like to congratulate these awardees, as well as the successful recipients of our other recently funded opportunities. My sincere thanks to all applicants and peer reviewers for their time and efforts. In collaboration with other institutes and partners, we also recently launched the second component of the III-led Health Challenges in Chronic Inflammation Phase 2 (HCCI2) initiative, which will support intervention trials in humans that lead to improved solutions for inflammation in chronic conditions. In addition to funding several grants related to HIV/AIDS and STBBI (sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections) earlier in the year, CIHR recently announced the upcoming Pan-Canadian Network for HIV/AIDS and STBBI Clinical Trials — an open call that will support a single nationally coordinated, interdisciplinary network for clinical trials research addressing STBBI. We hope many of you who work in the HIV/STBBI area will be able to be part of a network application. The Letter of Intent (LOI) applications will open shortly, to be followed by a strengthening workshop later in the year before the full application stage opens.

Minister Duclos’ roundtable with HIV researchers and community partners at CAHR 2023 in Quebec City (April 2023).

We are also excited to partner with a variety of other CIHR institutes on initiatives, such as the Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging (BHCIA) Research Initiative, which promotes brain health during aging while addressing the complex care needs of people living with dementia and their caregivers. III is also participating in team grants in Lung Health led by the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health and in collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Supporting ECI’s at this year’s annual CSI conference in Orford, Quebec (May 2023).

Supporting the next generation of Canadian leaders in infection and immunity is at the core of our vision. As such, we led several engagement activities highlighting the research of new and early career investigators. In April and May, we held research community events coinciding with the CIHR HIV/AIDS and STBBI Research Advisory Committee (CHASRAC) meeting in Ottawa and the III IAB meeting in Vancouver, that featured talks from talented early career researchers and community members. In June, we held well-attended III Early Career Investigator (ECI) Sessions at the Canadian Society for Immunology (CSI) Annual Conference (Orford, QC) and Canadian Society for Microbiology (CSM) Annual Conference (Halifax, NS). We are also getting ready to launch the dates for III's next New Investigator's Forum, which is a highly popular workshop for ECIs and senior trainees. Please look out for travel grants which will be announced soon.

Team bonding with CIHR-III staff in beautiful Vancouver, BC (May 2023).

As part of our commitment to engaging with PWLLE (people with lived and living experience), we are working with our Institute Advisory Board and have formed a special sub-committee composed of members with experience in engaging the community to help establish a PWLLE/Community Advisory Board. This Board will help us develop community and researcher engagement strategies to make this a mainstream activity in the Infection and Immunity research community.

Thank you for continuing to engage with us and for providing us with feedback on our activities. If you have an event or activity that you would like our participation in, please do not hesitate to reach out to either myself or the III staff. We welcome the opportunity to hear from you.

On behalf of the CIHR-III team, we wish you a safe, relaxing, and enjoyable summer!


Charu Kaushic
Scientific Director
CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity

Stay Connected with CIHR-III!
For more information on funding opportunities at CIHR, please visit the ResearchNet website. For the latest updates from CIHR-III, sign up to the III e-bulletin and follow @CKaushic and @CIHR_IRSC on Twitter. As always, we welcome your valuable feedback on how we can better serve the Infection and Immunity research community. Please reach out to our team directly at

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