Étienne Gagnon, Ph.D.

Awards & Honours

  • Irvington Institute/CRI Fellow, 2009-2012
  • IRSC BIOTECanada Schering-Plough Canada-2008 Prize
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, 2008-2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Benacerraf Fellowship, 2006-2008
  • Doctoral Fellow, Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec, 2002-2006


  • Postdoctoral training with Kai Wucherpfennig, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, 2006-2011
  • Ph.D. in Pathology and Cell Biology with Dr. Michel Desjardins, Université de Montréal, 2000-2006
  • B.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology, Université de Montréal, 1997-2000

Étienne Gagnon was appointed Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) in September 2011. He is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal.

Étienne Gagnon completed his Ph.D. in Michel Desjardins’ lab at the Université de Montréal, where his work focused on phagocytosis, a process that allows cells to internalize particulate matter and segregate it from the cytoplasm in a membrane-bound organelle, the phagosome. Through a wide variety of techniques, he was able to show that the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) was involved during phagosome formation and maturation. With the use of in-depth proteomics analyses, Étienne Gagnon and his collaborators were able to show that this organelle was autonomously involved in antigens cross-presentation.

Subsenquently, he joined the laboratory of Dr. Wucherpfennig’s lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, for his postdoctoral fellowship. In this laboratory, renowned for its work on the immunobiology of T cells, Étienne Gagnon studied the mechanisms of activation of the T cell receptor (TCR), a process essential to the immune response. Specifically, he used combined approaches of structural biology and cutting edge microscopy techniques such as Total Internal Reflection Microscopy (TIRM) to elucidate how the signal is transmitted from the extracellular domain of the TCR to the intracellular signalling domain. His findings have helped redefine the molecular basis of TCR activation by involving dynamic binding of the CD3 co-receptor cytoplasmic chains to the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane in this process.

At IRIC, the projects he will lead in his research unit will focus on the application of basic scientific knowledge of the activation of T cells in tumor models.

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