Assistant Professor Julien van Grevenynghe from INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier Research Centre has received a 2017 Discovery Award from the Banting Research Foundation. The award comes with a $25,000 prize that will enable Professor van Grevenynghe to further his research into the development of new strategies for treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The award recognizes the research excellence and creativity of young Canadian researchers working in health and biomedical sciences.
Professor van Grevenynghe is studying the role of autophagy in the immune response to HIV infection. Autophagy is recognized as an essential cellular defence system in eliminating certain viruses found in cells and may also play a role in "training" T cells, which are an integral part of the immune system.
"The goal of our research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms of immunity among infected subjects. These mechanisms naturally control viral replication and serve as an efficient defence system. Our results could be used to strengthen the immune system of patients who need antiretroviral therapy and to develop effective HIV vaccines, a goal that remains elusive despite constant efforts," said Professor van Grevenynghe, a specialist in immunology and virology who joined INRS in 2015.
Established in 1925, the Banting Research Foundation provides startup funding to support early-career researchers. In 2017 the Foundation received fifty-three applications, six of which were awarded funds.