An Interview with an Immunologist: Dr. Tania Watts

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Dario Ferri
Luke Dingwell

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Abstract

Dr. Tania Watts received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Alberta. She then went on to do a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford University studying T lymphocyte activation, which is where she first began to develop her passion for immunology. During her post-doctoral work, Dr. Watts helped to provide the first evidence for the existence of a ternary complex existing between MHC II, peptide antigen, and the T cell receptor. In 1986, Dr. Watts took up a faculty position at the University of Toronto Department of Immunology, where her research has been focused on T cell and viral immunity. Her work has focused on the immune responses to viruses such as influenza, HIV, and most recently, SARS-CoV-2. Her team has helped to uncover a novel inducible T cell co-stimulation pathway that contributes to T cell activation. Dr. Watts’ group has also been interested in studying viral immunity in humans. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, Dr. Watts collaborated with Public Health Ontario to study H1H1 immunity in Toronto. Recently, Dr. Watts’ has also published a study focused on comparing the immune response to influenza and SARS-CoV-2 in immune cells isolated from COVID-19-recovered patients. One of her more recent leadership roles has been serving as a member of the COVID-19 advisory group for Ontario, where she has helped to educate and inform the public on scientific advances regarding SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and immunity.