The Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity 2017 Recipient

Dr. Arthur Mortha
Assistant Professor
Department of Immunology
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Dr. Arthur Mortha, PhD, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, Department of Immunology, is the 2017 winner of the Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award in Infection and Immunity. Dr. Mortha’s application The crosstalk of myeloid cells and innate lymphocytes at mucosal surfaces was ranked the highest among all new investigators in the field of infection and immunity in the 2017 Project Grant competitions.

Dr. Arthur Mortha's research interests

Mucosal surfaces like the lung, urogenital tract or intestinal tract form barriers between our body's inside and the surrounding world. These barriers span large surfaces and are contact sites for microbes and pathogens to interact with our immune system. Recent evidence implies an overly activated immune response against microbes living at these mucosal surfaces as a driver of some of the most devastating autoimmune pathologies. Amongst these, pathologies like food allergies or inflammatory bowel disease are diagnosed in Canada with increasing frequency, offering a limited ability for treatment and a virtual absence of cure.

Dr. Mortha's research focuses on the interactions of tissue-resident innate immune cells and the microbiome (the sum of all good and bad microbes) of the intestinal tract. He aims to understand how immune cells permanently located in the microenvironments of this organ, sustain an appropriate, balanced, immunologic responses to prevent overriding activation of the immune system. He is particularly interested in the interactions of specialized, locally residing, innate lymphoid cells and myeloid cells. These two cell types are critical for sustaining immunologic balance of the intestinal tract and interact at specialized locations along it. With support of the CIHR, he is planning to identify the anatomic basis and mechanisms allowing these cells to interact to allow our immune system to discriminate good and bad bacteria. The knowledge gained from these studies will be utilized to employ pathways involved in balancing immunity to our microbiome in order to re-establish immunologic peace and tame overly activated immune cells at imbalanced mucosal surfaces.

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