Incoming: Dr Maya Saleh from McGill University, Canada
Dr. Maya Saleh, a McGill University William Dawson Scholar, is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Inflammation and Cancer Program at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Dr. Saleh, whose research project concerns innate immunity as a target of cancer immunotherapy, arrived in Bordeaux for her first research visit from July until December 2017 and will be returning for a second visit from July until December 2018.
Why did you apply for a Visiting Scholar position at UBx?
One of the goals of my sabbatical year is to collaborate with scientists, clinicians and clinician scientists who collaborate flawlessly to solve clinical problems or understand clinical observations through basic science discoveries. The ImmunoConcEpT (Immunology from Concept and Experiments to Translation) team, a superb group of fundamental and clinical immunologists, does exactly that and was the primary impetus for me to join the University of Bordeaux.
The Bordeaux IdEx program is an additional attractive feature as it is difficult to envisage a sabbatical stay abroad without such precious financial support. Last but not least, the city of Bordeaux and the surrounding region offers a wonderful environment not only for working but also for living!
What work do you hope to accomplish during your research visit?
The first objective of my sabbatical project at the ImmunoConcEpT laboratory is to translate our research findings to the clinic by collaborating with clinician-scientists and through access to characterized patient cohorts. We wish to explore the association and role of two specific innate immunity effectors, identified in our RNAi screen as regulators of the inflammasome pathway, in human inflammatory diseases. The strength of the ImmunoConcEpT laboratory is the investigation of human immunology and access to well characterized patient cohorts in partnership with Bordeaux hospitals allowing strong translational activities and outputs.
The second objective is to study the fundamental biology of gamma delta T cells and how the inflammasome pathway of the innate immune system interfaces with adaptive immunity by specifically regulating the activities of these T lymphocyte subsets.
The third objective is to develop a collaborative research project on the role of the inflammasome and gamma delta T cells in cancer immunotherapy.
In addition to the research goals of our laboratories at McGill and UBx, my visit will also hopefully support institutional objectives.
- Establish streamlined interactions between the two laboratories and the two institutions at large. This may include transfer of technologies, including large-scale analytical approaches and murine models of human diseases generated at McGill University to analyze triggers of innate immunity in chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer;
- Promote additional local, national and international multi-institutional collaborations and the development of a think tank to explore new ideas for future collaborative projects, thus stimulating the synthesis of new research grant applications to be submitted nationally and internationally;
- Encourage potential future student exchange programs;
- Reinforce the international partnership with McGill University via seminars, conferences, workshops and meetings that create a dynamic environment for research and training. For example, one immediate result is the initiative to organize an international conference on innate immunity together with ImmunoConcEpT, which will take place here in Bordeaux in 2019. This conference is expected to attract leading international scientists to come present innovative research findings on the topic in Bordeaux.
What are your impressions of UBx, the people, the city?
Positive! I don’t know if it is due to the pleasant maritime climate, but the people here are extremely friendly, welcoming, and above all, know how to enjoy life!
What have you discovered so far from your stay in Bordeaux?
I come from Montreal and speak both French and English at home, so I have not encountered any language difficulties. What struck me most is that human relations here are ‘warmer’ than in Montreal, the rhythm is slower and the life-work balance is sacred (everything stops in August, as everyone is on vacation!).