Why is it that older people get sick more often than young people? The biggest assumption we have is that the reason old people get sick is because their immune systems don’t work. Dawn Bowdish, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University, has actually found that this simply isn’t true. The immune systems in older people are functional, they just work differently.
Prof. Bowdish’s research examines the interplay between our immune system and pathogenic bacteria, and how this relationship changes as we age. She is particularly interested in the role the microbiome of our upper respiratory system plays in protecting us from diseases like pneumonia and why people become more susceptible to these diseases as they age. Through her work we could see the development of care tailored specifically to the age of the individual and not just to their symptoms.