Gillian Wu chosen for distinguished immunology award


Dean Gillian Wu, Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, has recently been chosen to receive the Cinader Award, a major award from the Canadian Society for Immunology (CSI). This award recognizes the esteem in which her peers hold her as a scientist, and her contributions to science in Canada and internationally.

The Cinader Award is the highest honour given by CSI and it acknowledges Wu’s contributions to Canadian immunology, both in the realms of research and teaching. It is a tribute to the important contributions she has made to the advancement of the discipline of immunology in Canada.

Wu’s lecture presentation and the award ceremony are seen as the highlight of the opening night of CSI”s 17th Annual Spring Meeting, March 28-31, in Lake Louise, Alberta. The topic of her talk is “G.O.D. is in the details: Life forces and the Generation of Diversity”.

The following is based on what Wu submitted to the CSI Web site as her biography, which can be seen in full at

Wu says she was “intoxicated with science – all science” – when she became involved in a summer research project measuring cilia growth. As a student at McMaster University, she took a course in immunology, taught by Hardy Cinader, after whom the award was named. “Hardy and I spent many a time discussing immunoglobulin structure in his closet-of-an-office…. He has been a part of my development at a number of key stages, and he has certainly been one of the more memorable scientists.”

In 2001 Wu was offered her current position at York University. In part, she was drawn to the “strong physical sciences program in engineering, nanotechnology, particle physics, mass spectrometry, NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] and encryption, to name a few.”

She also has praises for the University”s health sciences programs. “York has a huge kinesiology program that has studies ranging from hormone variation in sports, to heart muscle re-generation to mitochondrial transport. Immunology research is my lab but there is much support with bioinformatics, genomics and real molecular biology.

“At York I am enjoying my first love – science. I have an immunology lab of curious, interested trainees, and the problems we are studying remain exciting and diverse.”

Hardy (Bernhard) Cinader, born in Vienna, Austria, 1919, contributed groundbreaking experimental and conceptual results to medical science over several decades, starting with studies of anti-tetanus toxin vaccines.

Conceptual creativity and originality of approach was always a characteristic of Cinader”s work during his 55-year professional career. He was the founding president of the International Council of Immunological Societies and of the Canadian Society of Immunology, and author of over 300 scientific articles on immunology, oncology and gerontology.

At the time of his death professor emeritus, University of Toronto, Cinader”s keen interest in Canada”s First Nation peoples has led him to investigate, with passion, native art and culture, making his new-found discoveries a second career.