Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Dr. Pere Santamaria

Professor, Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

Dr. Pere Santamaria is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases and Chair of the Julia McFarlane Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Calgary. He is also cross-appointed at the Institut D’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer in Barcelona. A graduate of the University of Barcelona (MD and Ph.D.), he completed his medical specialty in immunology at the University Hospital in Barcelona and also a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Santamaria’s research has focused on the cellular mechanisms that cause white blood cells to attack and destroy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, to further the understanding of the mechanisms underlying autoimmunity. He is an elected member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is the scientific founder and chief scientist of Parvus Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company as a vehicle to bring his therapeutic platform to the clinic.

Learn more about Dr. Santamaria

How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?

We discovered a novel class of drugs that can reverse chronic autoimmune inflammation. The discovery was made in type 1 diabetes models and then extended to other autoimmune disease indications, including MS, in an effort to understand and test the limits of the therapeutic platform. The work on MS has exposed fascinating new immunology that we are aggressively pursuing.

What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?

Satisfying a boundless curiosity. The challenges are many, the real successes are few and far between, but some of these may one day change peoples lives.

Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?

Essential, indispensable.

How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?

Critical. I would not be doing MS research without the Society's support.

If you could ask any question(s) to a person living with MS that would help you design your study, what would it be?

What of these two hypothetical drugs would you choose: one that treated your disease specifically without side effects but would be needed on a more or less regular basis and would have to be injected; or one that was less specific and therefore less effective and possibly associated with some side effects, but that you could take orally and less frequently?

Dr. Santamaria’s MS Society supported project:

Expansion of antigen-specific regulatory networks for the treatment of CNS autoimmunity