Jeremy Hirota

Postdoctoral Fellow Research Prize Recipient

University of British Columbia

I am a PhD trained scientist interested in figuring out how the immune system in the lungs helps protect us while we breathe over 10,000 litres of air a day.  Specifically, I am interested in how air pollution, allergens, viruses, and bacteria, are detected by our immune system, and how this could lead to the development of lung diseases or “attacks”.  I’m hoping that the lasting impact of my research will be the development of new drugs and/or new policy, aimed at improving the quality of life for all populations in society, specifically those that may suffer from lung diseases.  Following my scholarship term, I will be an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Medicine, at the University of British Columbia.  As a Professor, I will be able to continue pursuit of my research interests while teaching undergraduate medical students.

Impact of Killam Funding
I am honoured to be a Killam Laureate and join the ranks of so many other prestigious scholars across Canada.  Being a Killam Laureate brings recognition to my passion for research, which I have pursued over the years, traveling across Canada and Australia, to receive the best training possible.  The Killam funding has validated all my extra efforts and those of my colleagues that have helped me along, enabling me to attend international meetings and train in world-class research environments.

Why UBC?
In November 2009 I came to the University of British Columbia for my postdoctoral fellowship following my PhD at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.  The move to Vancouver took me away from my family home and friends in Brantford, Ontario, but opened up the opportunity to connect with a world-class respiratory research institute, the UBC James Hogg Research Centre.  Along the way I have met incredible new friends, work colleagues, and mentors.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing – as my friends and family back home visit frequently and now I’ve got an active and exciting outdoor life here in Vancouver that I’ve always dreamed of.

What interests you besides research?
My transition to UBC and Vancouver for my postdoctoral fellowship has allowed me to fulfill my outdoor recreation passions including trail running, mountain biking, snowboarding, camping, and kayaking.  British Columbia and the Vancouver area offer access to all of these activities allowing me to “hit the hills” as a weekend warrior to celebrate a long work-week.  Having the mountains as a playground in your backyard make working hard and playing hard an easy balance.


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