Congratulations to the winners of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) 2021 Scholar & Research Trainee awards. These awards will support BC’s next generation of health researchers in developing their leading-edge research programs to address important health priorities and improve the health of British Columbians.


Dr. Annie Ciernia
The role of microglia in neurodevelopmental disorders

One of the most consistent findings across neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) is altered immune function, but it is unclear if neuroinflammation is a cause or consequence of brain pathology. Dr. Ciernia’s lab will directly test for causality and identify the optimal mechanisms and timepoints for immune based interventions in NDDs. Targets and compounds that impact microglia, the main immune cell in the brain, have immense potential for treating a broad range of NDDs.

Dr. Benjamin Matthews
The neuroscience and molecular genetics of mosquito chemosensation

The goal of Dr. Matthews’ research is to understand how mosquitoes use their sense of smell and taste to make decisions about who to bite and where to lay eggs. He uses techniques to modify their DNA and to look at the activity in their brains under a microscope. Ultimately, this research will help us understand why some mosquitoes are more deadly than others and provide the basis for mosquito control strategies such as traps and repellents.