Dr. Dawn Bowdish
Finding new ways to keep seniors infection-free
Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University
Ontario Lung Association-Pfizer Canada Research Award recipient
Dr. Dawn Bowdish’s lab is focusing on why the elderly are particularly susceptible to pneumonia and striving to extend lives by developing new therapies that bolster the body’s own natural defence mechanisms.
After studying bacteria in cystic fibrosis during her undergraduate at University of Guelph, Dr. Bowdish went on to pursue a PhD at the University of British Colombia. There, she studied the role of small naturally produced antibiotics in host defence against infection. To further her training, her next stop was University of Oxford where she focused on the causative agent of tuberculosis.
She later began focusing on streptococcus pneumoniae, a very common pathogen that causes fatal disease in children and older adults. Hospitalizations and deaths due to pneumonia are unacceptably high in the elderly.
Motivated to keep her children’s grandparents healthy, Dr. Bowdish started to look at how S. pneumoniae affects older adults. As recipient of the $50,000 OLA-Pfizer Canada Research Award, Dr. Bowdish’s research focused on developing a better understanding of how the immune system fights this infection in the elderly. For Dr. Bowdish, more funding for research, means more years of happy, healthy and independent adults - and more time with grandchildren.