A University of Guelph professor who specialized in the study of vaccines is among 75 people being considered for RBC’s Top 25 Immigrant Awards.
Dr. Mario Monteiro is a professor in U of G’s Department of Chemistry and is considered one of the most influential vaccine researchers in the world.
Reached by phone on Thursday, Monteiro said he was surprised by the nomination and said it was nice to be recognized for his achievements in research.
Monteiro said he often uses his lived experience as an immigrant during his teaching at U of G.
“I try to give examples to the students, personal examples that I have been through,” he said.
In his research, Monteiro has identified key molecules capable of preventing bacterial infections responsible for deadly diarrhea in humans and a recent vaccine he developed targets surface molecules exposed by C. Difficile to control infection and colonization levels.
The first vaccine developed by Monteiro targets Campylobacter infections and was the first to show 100 per cent efficacy.
In 2014, Monteiro was named one of the world’s 50 top vaccine influencers by a vaccine industry organization based in the United Kingdom. He was the only Canadian to be recognized.
“That was a special thing because it brought a lot of attention to the university and to Canada,” said Monteiro of the 2014 nomination.
In 1981, Monteiro began Grade 9 after his family immigrated to Canada from his native Portugal.
Despite eventually becoming an internationally-recognized scientist, Monteiro said he began his high school career at the basic level, with no pathway to post-secondary education.
“I went to that school with lack of information because of proximity to where we lived,” he said.
Eventually, his teachers took notice of his potential and he began taking high school classes at a more advanced level, where he discovered his passion for science.
“There are great opportunities (in Canada), that goes without saying,” said Monteiro. “You have to believe in yourself. You can’t let the system dictate what you can and cannot do.”
To vote for Monteiro for this year’s RBC’s Top 25 Immigrant Awards or to view the other nominations, click here.