Congrats to high school student Anika Gupta as she heads off to the international science fair!

The Bowdish lab was very proud to host Anika Gupta, a high school student, for her Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) project.

Her project was entitled “Quantifying Lung Macrophages to Understand Increased Susceptibility to Bacterial Pneumonia with Age.”

Anita won the Dr. Doyle Biology Award for the best Biology project, a Gold merit award as well as the Pinnacle Award for the Third Best in Fair and a sponsored Trip Award to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May!

Way to go Anika!

Anika Gupta receiving the third place “ArcelorMittal Dofasco Pinnacle Best-in-Fair” award.

See her featured in the Hamilton news here.

Dr. Bowdish gives a lecture for kids “Who’s got more cooties – boys or girls?”

Dr. Bowdish explains what cooties are, how the microbes that live on and in us can be friends and foes and describes how differences in infections and health between boys and girls, men and women are sometimes due to biology and sometimes due to behaviour.

Read the article summarizing the event here.

To see Dr. Bowdish put on a macrophage cape and teach the school kids the difference between a commensal, a pathobiont and a pathogen by dressing up their teachers, watch here…..

Children wrote down questions they had during the lecture and got answers back to them the next day. Had to break out the dictionary to find the etiology of the word “cooties”.

Kyle Novakowski is the Bowdish lab’s newest PhD!

Kyle Novakowski successfully defended his thesis “IDENTIFICATION AND  FUNCTIONAL CHARACTERIZATION OF CONSERVED RESIDUES AND DOMAINS IN THE MACROPHAGE SCAVENGER RECEPTOR MARCO”  to become the Bowdish lab’s 4th PhD student. He’ll be joining Turnstone Biologics as a PhD scientist. We wish him very well in his future endeavours. Congratulations Dr. Novakowski!

Publication: Human-specific mutations and positively-selected sites in MARCO confer functional changes.

First author on the publication, PhD student Kyle Novakowski of Dr. Dawn Bowdish’s lab.
A common element that links ancient fish that dwell in the darkest depths of the oceans to land mammals, Neanderthals, and humans is the necessity to defend against pathogens. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution have shaped how our innate immune cells, such as macrophages, detect and destroy microorganisms.

In a new study led by Dr. Dawn Bowdish (in collaboration with Dr. Brian Golding) and her PhD student Kyle Novakowski, the team identified novel sites within a macrophage receptor, MARCO, that are under positive selection and are human-specific. The team demonstrated the importance of these sites by site-directed mutation and showed a reduction in cellular binding and uptake of pathogens. These findings demonstrate how small genetic changes in humans can influence how we defend ourselves against pathogens.

Read the full publication in Oxford University Press.

Human-specific mutations and positively-selected sites in MARCO confer functional changes. Novakowski KE, Yap NVL, Yin C, Sakamoto K, Heit B, Golding GB, Bowdish DME. Mol Biol Evol. 2017 Nov 20. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msx298.
PMID: 2916561

PDF and PhD position available.

The Bowdish lab is looking for new members to join our team! We currently have an opening for a post-doctoral fellow and a graduate student.

The PDF will project will involve investigating how the upper respiratory tract microbiome changes with age and declining immune function. Applicants must have a strong publication record in the field of immunology, microbiology, systems biology or molecular biology and applicants eligible for PDF funding from http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/mgdfa/ are particularly encouraged to apply (see link for eligibility). Experience in analysis of the microbiome or statistics of large/complex datasets are assets. Please provide a c.v. and a cover letter detailing your interest in the lab that includes contact details for references.

The graduate student position will be studying why aging macrophages are less able to kill bacteria. Applicants interested in beginning studies in January, May or Sept 2018 will be considered. Students aiming to pursue a PhD are preferred but exceptional MSc applicants will be considered. Previous research experience is strongly preferred. Candidates must have relevant courses in molecular/cellular biology, biochemistry, immunology or microbiology. Please include a transcript, a cover letter outlining your previous research experience and a list of references. Foreign students must have a scholarship to be considered.

Come join our strong team!

Bowdish lab scholarship winners 2015/2016: Netusha Thevaranjan (CIHR-PhD), Avee Naidoo (CIHR-PhD), Kyle Novakowski (NSERC-PhD), Pat Schenck (CIHR-PhD), Dessi Loukov (CIHR-PhD), Justin Boyle (NSERC-MSC).

Publication: Tumor necrosis factor drives increased splenic monopoiesis in old mice

bowdish

PhD student Dessi Loukov in the lab of Dr. Dawn Bowdish, recently published a study showing that splenomegaly in old mice is a result of extramedullary hematopoiesis, and that this increased monopoiesis is driven by age-associated increase in TNF. The study compared changes in the microarchitecture and composition of the spleen in old and young mice and found that in old mice, there was an increase in the size and cellularity of the red pulp (the site of hematopoiesis of myeloid precursors). To study the role of TNF in the development of extramedullary hematopoiesis, they used TNF KO mice and found that these mice did not have increased extramedullary monopoiesis. Furthermore, they demonstrated that increased splenic myelopoiesis was a result of the aging microenvironment. This work suggests that strategies which aim to decrease the inflammatory microenvironment that comes with aging, would be effective in reducing inflammatory diseases propagated by cells of the myeloid lineage. Read More

 

Publication: A naturally occurring transcript variant of MARCO reveals the SRCR domain is critical for function

Macrophages play a critical role in innate immunity by detecting, engulfing and destroying pathogenic bacteria and alerting neighbouring immune cells to join the fight against infection. They have many different receptors on their cell surface that allow them to carry out these important processes. A particular group of receptors called Scavenger Receptors are vital to this response. A recent study published in Immunology and Cell Biology by PhD student Kyle Novakowski from the laboratory of Dr. Dawn Bowdish has uncovered a mechanism by which a specific scavenger receptor contributes to macrophage-specific antibacterial immunity.

Scavenger Receptors are evolutionarily ancient and have evolved to recognize a wide array of pathogens by detecting ligands that are common across many pathogenic organisms. A particularly important Scavenger Receptor is Macrophage Receptor with Collagenous Structure, or MARCO. MARCO has been shown to significantly contribute to the clearance of Streptococcus pneumoniae colonization of the nose and in models of pneumococcal pneumonia. The NSERC-funded study took a unique approach to functionally characterizing how MARCO contributes to innate immunity by studying a naturally-occurring variant of the receptor. The study highlighted the importance of a particular domain of the receptor that is required for macrophages to bind and internalize ligands. The study also showed that the domain is necessary to enhance the pro-inflammatory response to pathogenic Streptococcus pneumoniae and can enhance cellular adhesion; both vital to proper macrophage functions.

To read the article, please click here.