Eleanor Fish, PHD

Adjunct Scientist, Women’s College Hospital Research and Innovation Institute
Canada Research Chair in Women’s Health & Immunobiology
Professor, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto
Senior Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute

Eleanor Fish, PhD, aims to understand the difference in incidence and severity of diseases between men and women, with the goal of developing more effective, tailored therapeutic interventions. Her studies of immune proteins and disease susceptibility may have implications for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (which disproportionately affect women), as well as specific viral infections.

Fish aims to understand the immune mechanisms that drive autoimmunity, specifically in relation to rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. This research is focused on the interactions of cytokines, specifically interferons and chemokines, with their receptors in normal and diseased tissues and cells. Her group’s studies related to rheumatoid arthritis, using human patient specimens and mouse models of disease, have identified a fibrocyte stem cell population that may be associated with the earliest pathogenic events that trigger autoimmune diseases.

To develop broad-spectrum antivirals, Fish investigates host-pathogen interactions at the cellular and molecular level. During the 2003 outbreak of SARS in Toronto, Fish initiated studies to investigate the therapeutic potential of interferon in SARS patients. Encouraging results have directed her group’s efforts toward examining interferon activity against a number of emerging infectious diseases, including influenza and most recently, Ebola virus and Zika virus. Fish undertook a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of interferon treatment for ebola virus disease in Guinea, with preliminary results identifying therapeutic potential.

PhD, Immunology & Cell Biology, 1986

MPhil, Cell Biology, 1974

BSc Hons, Biological Chemistry, 1971

  • Tier 1 Canada Research Chair, Women’s Health & Immunobiology (2007-2021)
  • Canadian Society for Immunology Hardy Cinader Award (2015)
  • International Cytokine & Interferon Society Honorary Lifetime membership Award (2015)
  • Fellow, African Academy of Sciences (2015)
  • Canadian Society for Immunology, Investigator Award (2012)
  • Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research (2010)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology (2006)

  • Cytokines and chemokines
  • Antivirals
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cancer metabolism
  • Building capacity in science & technology