Immuno-engineering is a rapidly advancing field with the potential to develop new lifesaving and health promoting vaccines and therapeutics. However, alongside the successful development of innovative products, there is a need to support optimal acceptance and uptake by the people who need them. 

We learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that new vaccines not only need to be safe and effective, they must also be socially acceptable and accessible. The new Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) Consortium: Essential Societal Infrastructure to Support Canada’s Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Pipeline will bring together leading researchers from across Canada to better understand and support public trust in, and equitable access to, vaccines and other immune-based innovations. The SSH Consortium will strengthen biomanufacturing in Canada by bridging across the life and bioengineering sciences, public health community, and Canadian society. The team will conduct research to better understand diverse perspectives across the biomanufacturing pipeline, immunization system and wider public. Findings will support knowledge mobilization activities that reduce mis/disinformation, enhance vaccine confidence and promote equitable access. 

The SSH Consortium will be composed of leading expertise in epidemiology, anthropology, communications, political science, history, law, philosophy, sociology and other fields. Together, the team will apply methods such as environmental scans, surveys, interviews, focus groups and social media analysis to understand perspectives, attitudes and needs towards immune-based innovations. Participatory action approaches will be adopted to support public engagement, mutual listening, meaningful dialogue, and the co-creation of knowledge and solutions among scientists, government, industry and the public. 

Health equity will be a high priority. The project will seek to understand the concerns of priority populations, such as Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and rural and remote communities, related to the acceptability and accessibility of new vaccines and therapeutics. Additionally, the team is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in training and mentorship, and to supporting cross-disciplinary connections across the life and bioengineering sciences, public health and medicine, and social sciences and humanities. 

SSH Consortium will support the AVENGER and PROGENITER projects of the Canada’s Immuno-Engineering and Biomanufacturing Hub, and other projects funded through the integrated Canadian Biomedical Research Fund and Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund Stage 2 competition. The SSH Consortium will be based at Simon Fraser University, with partnerships across Canada and worldwide. 

Project directors:

Dr. Kelley Lee (Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University), Dr. Ève Dubé (Faculty of Social Sciences, Université Laval) 

Team members:

  • Ahmed Al-Rawi (Simon Fraser University)
  • Timothy Caulfield (University of Alberta)
  • Wendy Chun (Simon Fraser University)
  • Colleen Flood (Queen’s University)
  • Maya Gislason (Simon Fraser University)
  • Janice Graham (Dalhousie University)
  • Cynthia (Cindy) Jardine (University of the Fraser Valley)
  • Jillian Kohler (University of Toronto)
  • David Patrick (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control)
  • Katrina Plamondon (University of British Columbia)
  • Diego Silva (University of Sydney)
  • Julia Smith (Simon Fraser University)
  • Maxwell Smith (Western University)
  • Heidi Tworek (The University of British Columbia) 


  • Canadian Association of Science Centres (ScienceUpFirst) 
  • Canadian Public Health Association 
  • The Conversation Canada 
  • Vaccine Confidence Project 

Federal funding:

  • Canada Biomedical Research Fund Award: $13.56 million
  • Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund Award: $0.63 million

This initiative was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Canada Biomedical Research Fund and the Biosciences Research Infrastructure Fund.