Charu   Kaushic, PhD

Charu Kaushic, PhD

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity

Expertise: InfectionImmunologyBiomedicalGynecology

Dr. Charu Kaushic has served in the role of Scientific Director of the CIHR-Institute of Infection and Immunity (III) since July 1, 2018. Dr. Kaushic is also a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Medicine in McMaster University, where she has established her research program and taught for 19 years. She is a member of the McMaster Immunology Research Centre and the Michael G. DeGroote Institute of Infectious Disease Research at the university. She has cross appointments to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster.

In her role as the Scientific Director for CIHR-III, Dr. Kaushic is responsible for making decisions for CIHR strategic investments in the area of infection and immunity, nationally and internationally. She also represents CIHR and the Government of Canada at various national and international forums related to infectious diseases. In this capacity, she serves as Chair of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R), a global consortium of funders in pandemic preparedness and emergency response research. She is also an Executive Committee Member of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, a national Task Force mandated to deliver a coordinated sero-survey agenda for the deployment of public health measures and work closely with a range of partners on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine surveillance across Canada. Dr. Kaushic also represents Canada on the Global AMR R&D Hub as well as the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR) Management Board.

Dr. Kaushic's program of research at McMaster is focused on understanding various aspects of host-pathogen interaction as they relate to women's susceptibility and immune responses to the sexually transmitted viral pathogens HIV and herpes virus. The goal of her research program is to develop gender-specific prevention and therapeutic approaches, including vaccines and immunomodulatory interventions, to address the disproportionate burden of STIs on women worldwide, and to provide women with the information and choices to make informed decisions regarding their reproductive health. Her research program covers a broad spectrum from basic research to clinical and translational projects. She has worked closely in partnership with African-Caribbean-Black community organizations for more than 15 years.

Dr. Kaushic completed a Master’s at Delhi University, her PhD at the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, before completing post-doctoral training at Dartmouth Medical School, New Hampshire in mucosal immunology. She joined the Faculty of Health Sciences in McMaster University in 2002. Dr. Kaushic has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and reviews in influential journals and books and mentored more than 65 trainees at different levels. She is the past recipient of a Rockefeller Post-Doctoral Award, an OHTN New Investigator Scholarship, CIHR New Investigator Award and an Applied HIV Research Chair Award from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. She has also received multiple research achievement awards, including the AJRI Senior Investigator Award from American Society of Reproductive Immunology. She was the Principal Investigator of four CIHR grants, including a large team grant, at the time that she joined CIHR.

Dr. Kaushic is an advocate for women's reproductive health and choices and is passionate about encouraging women to pursue careers and leadership roles in STEM fields.


Cited By


Exposure to HIV-1 directly impairs mucosal epithelial barrier integrity allowing microbial translocation



Progesterone increases susceptibility and decreases immune responses to genital herpes infection



Influenza infection leads to increased susceptibility to subsequent bacterial superinfection by impairing NK cell responses in the lung



Effects of estradiol and progesterone on susceptibility and early immune responses to Chlamydia trachomatis infection in the female reproductive tract



A role for mucosal IL-22 production and Th22 cells in HIV-associated mucosal immunopathogenesis



Prolonged exposure to progesterone prevents induction of protective mucosal responses following intravaginal immunization with attenuated herpes simplex virus type 2



HIV-1 gp120 induces TLR2-and TLR4-mediated innate immune activation in human female genital epithelium



Influence of the estrous cycle on the presence and distribution of immune cells in the rat reproductive tract



Increased prevalence of sexually transmitted viral infections in women: the role of female sex hormones in regulating susceptibility and immune responses



Antifertility effects of neem (Azadirachta indica) oil by single intrauterine administration:a novel method for contraception



Chlamydia trachomatis infection in the female reproductive tract of the rat: influence of progesterone on infectivity and immune response



Estradiol regulates susceptibility following primary exposure to genital herpes simplex virus type 2, while progesterone induces inflammation



Protection against genital herpes infection in mice immunized under different hormonal conditions correlates with induction of vagina-associated lymphoid tissue



Antigen-presenting cells in the female reproductive tract: influence of estradiol on antigen presentation by vaginal cells



Susceptibility of human female primary genital epithelial cells to herpes simplex virus, type-2 and the effect of TLR3 ligand and sex hormones on infection



Hormonal contraception and HIV-1 acquisition: biological mechanisms



Innate and adaptive immune responses in male and female reproductive tracts in homeostasis and following HIV infection



HIV‐1 infection in the female reproductive tract: role of interactions between HIV‐1 and genital epithelial cells



The evolving facets of bacterial vaginosis: implications for HIV transmission



The anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin protects the genital mucosal epithelial barrier from disruption and blocks replication of HIV-1 and HSV-2



“We don’t know yet if every person who has contracted COVID has long-term immunity. Some people have been seen to have antibodies for easily six months and in some people, the antibody levels start going down sooner, which means they are no longer protected.”


There is this push and pull between the immune response and the virus where the virus is trying to change so that the immune responses are not able to eliminate it and the immune responses are changing to make sure that the virus can be eliminated. In an immune escape, the virus changes itself enough that the immune response can't completely eliminate it or significantly disarm it.


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