CoVaRR-Net Researchers

Jen Gommerman, University of Toronto, Pillar 1 & Project Lead

Mark Brockman, Simon Fraser University, Pillar 1 Deputy
Jörg Fritz, McGill University, Pillar 5 Deputy
Scott Halperin, Dalhousie University, Pillar 1 Deputy
Ciriaco Piccirillo, McGill University, Pillar 1 Deputy
Manish Sadarangani, University of British Columbia, Pillar 1 Deputy


Blake Ball, National Microbiology Laboratory
Felix Breden, Simon Fraser University
Catherine Card, National Microbiology Laboratory
Sandra Kiazyk, National Microbiology Laboratory
Mario Ostrowski, University of Toronto
Michal Tal, MIT
Tania Watts, University of Toronto
Irv Weissman, Stanford University

Lay Summary

Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines, although only three are in use. How these vaccines mount protective immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants is still not completely understood. A “deep dive” into the immune response elicited by different vaccination regimes is required to understand how vaccine type, combination, and the dosing interval impact the immune response to the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Specifically, we need to understand how well these vaccine regimes (and vaccine combinations) harness immunity from different populations of immune cells, what genes are turned on, and the relative strength of the responses from these cells. We also need a better understanding of how immunity is formed in the upper respiratory tract (nose/mouth) as this would have the capacity to protect people from asymptomatic infection so that they cannot spread SARS-CoV-2 to others. Now that more contagious variants such as the Delta (B.1.617.2 strain) have arrived in Canada, this information is more important than ever. Ultimately, our studies will provide a “blueprint” for how we will design future vaccines against emerging pathogens.


CoVaRR-Net: $200,000 cash contribution