EPIC Researcher Mobility Awards enable immersive international training experiences for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows
A smiling woman with a grey sweater and a smiling man wearing a toque and blue coat

Clockwise from top left: Raja Faisal Abbas, Martin Gunnill, Hannah Kozlowski, John MacPherson, Jinny Tsang, Alison Simmons, Madeleine Oman, Kuganya Nirmalarajah

June 22, 2023

By Betty Zou

The Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium has announced the eight recipients of its inaugural Researcher Mobility Awards.

These awards provide financial support to doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows to undertake research training or to complete collaborative field work outside of Toronto.

“We are excited to support these eight trainees in pursuing field work and enriching training opportunities in other parts of the world. These opportunities will allow them to bring back new knowledge and expertise to our local infectious disease research community and strengthen our research network’s ties to national and international research partners,” said Scott Gray-Owen, academic director of EPIC and a professor of molecular genetics in the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

Awards are valued at $4,000 for training or field work undertaken at a North American site and $6,000 for training or field work undertaken at sites outside of North America.

Meet the eight recipients below:

Raja Faisal Abbas is a PhD student supervised by Xiaolin Wei in the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He will be working with researchers at Health Services Academy in Islamabad, Pakistan and Udayana University in Bali, Indonesia to evaluate the policy formulation process around antimicrobial stewardship programs in those countries.

Postdoctoral fellow Martin Grunnill and PhD student Kuganya Nirmalarajah will be travelling to Squamish, British Columbia to attend an international workshop aimed at providing participants with the skills and core knowledge to use a software package called BEAST 2 to analyse genetic sequences. Both recipients are co-supervised by Samira Mubareka at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Venkata Duvvuri at Public Health Ontario.

Hannah Kozlowski is a MD/PhD candidate conducting research with Shaun Morris at the Hospital for Sick Children. She will be working at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand to develop a protocol for high sensitivity sequencing of dengue virus RNA from human blood samples using Oxford Nanopore sequencing.

John MacPherson is a PhD student in Alex Ensminger’s lab in the department of biochemistry at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. He will be travelling to Boston, USA to learn techniques for studying the bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis from collaborators at Harvard Medical School.

Madeleine Oman is a PhD student in Rob Ness’s lab in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She will be travelling to Konstanz, Germany to learn new methodologies to study virus evolution in an algae model system from collaborators at the University of Konstanz.

Alison Simmons is a PhD student co-supervised by David Fisman and Ashleigh Tuite at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She will be travelling to London, UK to attend a mathematical modelling course titled Model Fitting and Inference for Infectious Disease Dynamics offered by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Jinny Tsang is a PhD student supervised by Rupert Kaul at University Health Network. She will be working with partners at the Rakai Health Sciences Program in Kalisizo, Uganda to study how penile-vaginal sex causes genital inflammation in both partners that can increase susceptibility to HIV.