Mactalks: Outbreaks, vaccines & immunity: Inside long-term care with Andre Picard & Andrew Costa

Join Globe and Mail health columnist André Picard in conversation with McMaster University researchers Dawn Bowdish and Andrew Costa about the impact of COVID-19 and its implications for older Canadians.

Publication: Age-associated Inflammation alters the aging trajectory.

This article is written for lay/broad audiences and describes what age-associated inflammation is and why it may be key to healthy/unhealthy aging.

White Paper: “As One of Canada’s Top Killers, Why Isn’t Pneumonia Taken More Seriously?” with Ryerson’s Institute of Aging


Available position: Research Technician in Mouse Models of Aging

This CIHR funded 12 month technician position will study how the immune system changes with age using mouse models. This position is suitable for someone with an MSc or strong experience in mouse models or immunology. The successful applicant will handle mouse breeding and inventory, liaising with animal care technicians to deal with health issues, ordering reagents for lab members, maintaining financial records, enforcing safety regulations and maintaining lab inventories. Research responsibilities will include working independently to perform studies of how the immune system changes with age and will include tissue collection, metabolic and behavioural testing, and creating bone marrow chimeras. This is a limited term contract but pending successful performance reviews it may be possible to extend the contract.

Essential skills
Animal handling
• This project requires significant experience in animal handling including breeding, non-terminal blood collection, anesthesia, tissue collection and procedures such as tail vein and intraperitoneal injections. Experience in behavioural testing, metabolic testing or flow cytometry would be assets. The applicant will be expected to work independently and be able to perform experiments with minimal guidance and to train junior members of the team in basic procedures. Please provide a detailed description of relevant animal experience and training in your cover letter.

Organization and Communication
• The applicant will be required to coordinate experiments with other team members and collaborators weeks to months in advance and consequently excellent organizational skills are required. The applicant will need to work closely with animal care staff and make good judgement calls on issues of animal welfare. The applicant must be able to document results in a laboratory notebook and will be responsible for writing protocols. Excellent written and oral English skills are essential.

Must be willing to learn:
Immunology assays
• The applicant will need to perform ELISAs including multiplex ELISAs (e.g. Luminex), flow cytometry and PCR for genotyping.
• The applicant will need to use Graphpad for data analysis and will need to know how to use statistical techniques such as ANOVA.

Additional skills which may be an asset:
Chimeric bone marrow transplants
• The applicant will create bone marrow chimeras. Previous experience in this or other mouse immunology techniques will be an asset.
Behavioural testing
• Experience in studying mouse behavior including anxiety, cognition, and mobility would be strong assets.
Metabolic studies.
• Experience in measuring blood glucose and insulin would be valuable.
Please describe your experience with any of these techniques in your cover letter.

Why the Bowdish lab?
Our lab’s core values are Diversity, Ambition, Innovation and Collaboration. These core values dictate our approach to doing science. Our technical staff are valuable members of our team who participate in our research by performing exemplary work, attending conferences, presenting their work, and communicating with the broader scientific and lay audience. We teach transferable skills that have broad utility within and outside of academia and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. We value diversity and are family friendly. For more details on our lab see our website.

Postdoctoral fellow position in Aging & Immunity available

This CIHR funded PDF position will study how aging, and specifically age-associated inflammation alters myeloid cell development and macrophage function. This will include performing flow cytometry assays to quantitate development and maturation of myeloid cells in human blood and depending on the applicant’s interest and aptitude may include animal models. The successful applicant will be expected to develop a research project including all required experimental optimization, liaise with collaborators and research participants from multiple sights and write manuscripts to communicate research findings. The applicant must have a background in immunology and be a team player who is willing to mentor junior trainees and be an active participant in departmental seminars and events.

Essential skills
Flow cytometry
• This project requires significant skills in flow cytometry. Although most of the work will be done in human blood, expertise in mouse models would also be an asset. Please include details of your flow cytometry experience in your cover letter and be prepared to discuss the details of protocol development, trouble shooting and optimization if you are chosen for an interview.
• The applicant will be required to work closely with our research participants, including obtaining consent and filling out detailed health questionnaires. This will require the ability to describe the research in lay terms and to work with older adults who may have issues with hearing and site. The applicant will also be required to liaise with research co-ordinators from multiple sites to facilitate shipments and answer technical questions. Excellent English skills are essential.
• The applicant will be expected to present research findings to the lay public, research coordinators, nurses and PIs and will need experience speaking to broad audiences. The applicant will be responsible for publishing manuscripts. Please describe your oral and written communication skills as well as your publication history (published and in preparation) in your cover letter.

Must be willing to learn:
• This successful applicant must be willing to take a phlebotomy course and take blood from our research participants.
BSL2 level blood processing
• The applicant will be handling human blood, including blood that may be infected with viruses and consequently will need to be committed to following sterile and safe practices.
GLP procedures
• All our human immunology work is performed in a GLP compliant laboratory and the successful applicant must be willing to work with all the required GLP procedures.
Immunology assays
• The applicant will perform ELISAs including multiplex ELISAs (e.g. Luminex).
Statistics/R programming language/Data visualization
• Analysis of complex datasets (e.g. multilinear regression) and the R programming language is essential.

Additional skills which may be an asset:
Animal models (e.g. chimeric bone marrow transplants)
• There will be opportunities to test hypotheses and models using the Preclinical Studies in Aging Laboratory (PSAL:, Canada’s only aging mouse colony. Specifically, there are opportunities to study how the aging microenvironment alters myeloid development by performing heterochronic bone marrow chimeras.
• Experience in immunosenescence (mice and humans) would be a strong asset.
Microbiome analysis
• Opportunities exist to collaborate on projects on how the aging immune system alters the upper respiratory tract and gut microbiota. Experience with analysis of 16s rRNA sequencing, statistics and large dataset visualization would be an asset.
Please describe your experience with any of these techniques in your cover letter.

Why the Bowdish lab?
Our lab’s core values are Diversity, Ambition, Innovation and Collaboration. These core values dictate our approach to doing science. We support our trainees career development for careers both inside and outside of academia and this project will provide skills that will be broadly desirable no matter what the career trajectory. The Bowdish lab supports scientists with families and diverse backgrounds (see our lab’s diversity statement at

If you are interested in applying contact Dr. Bowdish at Please include a coverletter detailing your research interests ambitions and relevant skills and a c.v. that includes your publications and references.