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Jude Uzonna PhD, DVM

Currently accepting students.

Current Position

Scientist, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; Associate Professor, Departments of Immunology and Medical Microbiology; Research Manitoba Chair in Infectious Immunology

History

Sepsis with its concomitant sequelae (severe sepsis and septic shock) is a systemic inflammatory response caused by decreased tissue perfusion and oxygen delivery as a result of infection. If left unchecked, sepsis could progress to septic shock, which could lead to severe multi-organ dysfunction syndrome and death mostly in children, the elderly and highly immunocompromised patients. According to the Canadian Institutes for Health Information (CIHI), 9,320 sepsis patients died in hospitals across Canada (outside Quebec) between 2008-2009, accounting for approximately 11% of all deaths occurring in hospitals. Data on the financial burden are not ready available, but it is estimated that severe sepsis and septic shock is a significant burden to the Quebec health care system, with an estimated cost of $36-$76 million per year. Neonates and children under 1 year of age have the highest sepsis-related death rate in Canada. In addition, children who survive sepsis are more prone to develop serious life-threatening and/or altering conditions such as myocardial cell injury, mental retardation, chronic headache, and epilepsy. Thus, sepsis syndrome constitutes a huge problem in pediatric medicine and understanding the pathogenesis of sepsis is an important step towards designing appropriate clinical interventions.

Recently, we found that a sub-population of lymphocytes (white blood cells), called regulatory T cells (Tregs), play critical role in dampening inflammatory responses during sepsis (Okeke et al 2013, Shock, 2014, Journal of Immunology). We are encouraged by these findings and we are working under the premise that enhancing the numbers of these cells would be beneficial in the clinical management of sepsis and septic shock.

Education

Dr. Uzonna obtained a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree with high distinction from the University of Nigeria in 1990 and a Ph.D. in Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Disease from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. He did his postdoctoral fellowship training at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia USA and was recruited to the Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba in 2004.

Research Focus

Dr Uzonna’s research program focuses on understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the induction, maintenance and loss of protective immunity against parasitic infections, with a view to exploiting the information gained from these studies for the development of effective vaccines and vaccination strategies against these infections. In addition, he is interested in understanding immunomodulatory mechanisms that regulate the pathophysiology systemic inflammatory response syndromes, particularly those associated with sepsis and septic shock.