Étudiant-chercheur étoile March 2014

Mark Verway, étudiant-chercheur étoile, FRQS

Mark Verway

PhD student in Physiology
McGill University

Award-winning publication: Vitamin D Induces Interleukin-1β Expression: Paracrine Macrophage Epithelial Signaling Controls M. tuberculosis Infection

Published in: PLOS Pathogens, 9(6), e1003407, 2013


"While clinical trials have established that vitamin D has no added benefit to the clinical treatment of active and established tuberculosis disease, there is a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and the initial presentation of clinical disease. In this research, I have massively expanded the molecular mechanisms by which vitamin D can influence gene expression in a macrophage infected with M. tuberculosis. By developing a novel co-culture system, I have also shown that lung epithelial cells are important for control of the bacteria. The creation of an artificial alveolus may eventually be used by others in the field to improve our understanding of the events that occur during the primary stages of infection."

Despite being a curable disease, tuberculosis affects one third of the world's population . By modeling the effects of vitamin D in the very first stages of infection, Mark Verway's work expands on the mechanisms by which vitamin D supplementation may be used to prevent the disease at its initiation. Such a program of prophylaxis would obviously represent a benefit to the patients. If proven successful, it would also come at a large financial savings for the health care services, as treating a single patient for tuberculosis costs the Québec government about $20,000, while vitamin D costs pennies per dose.