A consortium of universities in Canada is setting up a national network to promote and enhance human immune-system research with a Can$600,000 catalyst grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Led by The University of Western Ontario (UWO), whose Centre for Human Immunology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is the co-ordinating hub for the initiative, the seven universities making up the CIHR Human Immunology Network will endeavour to facilitate basic and clinical research that helps to position Canada as a global leader in the development of new vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases, allergies, HIV/AIDS, cancer and transplantation.

The other six universities are by McGill, McMaster, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, the University of Manitoba, and Dalhousie University. The CIHR Human Immunology Network (CHIN) will act as a co-ordinating resource for investigators working in different areas of human immunology and for new investigators moving into the field.

It aims to provide a source of standardised protocols for human immunology research, while easing access to material and technologies; expediting regulatory processes; engaging national and international human immunology stakeholders to promote research in the field; and leading the development of activities to disseminate knowledge around human immunology at the national and international levels.

CHIN will function as a resource umbrella network, facilitating communication between ‘nodes’ at the seven participating universities, each with their own specialised expertise in human immunology, collaboration and knowledge exchange (e.g. auto-immunity, infectious diseases, immunodeficiencies and allergies at McGill; transplantation, auto-immunity, infectious diseases and clinical trials at UWO).

These major nodes will be the drivers of the new network. Once CHIN is funded, investigators throughout Canada will be invited to participate and will have access to CHIN activities. As additional centres emerge, they will be invited to join the network as nodes.