Dr. Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, Chair, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto
Dr. Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, Chair, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto

The current issue of IMMpress Magazine is a must-read one. A certainty of life is that we will all struggle with physical and mental health challenges at some point in our lives, and this issue of IMMpress deals directly with mental health concerns that are typically faced by our graduate students. It does so with insightful feature articles that focus on the evolution of the definition and societal understanding of mental illness over time, and an exploration of the role of finances, sex hormones, stereotypes, nutrition, epigenetics and social media on mental wellbeing. As we have come to expect, a useful infographic outlines prevalent mechanisms for coping with stress.

Remarkably, this issue of IMMpress also features reflections from a few of our extraordinary students, who share personal stories of their struggles with mental health during graduate school.

There are also helpful notes written by our students and faculty to their “former selves” with advice that would have been good to receive in the past. I often make decisions whose future impact I wish I could glimpse, and of course having a future self inform me of what approach is best would be wonderful. Amusingly, what comes to mind is the line from the musical Hamilton, “Talk less, smile more” – advice that is given to the title character by Aaron Burr.

So, if given the opportunity to speak to my former self, my note would say:

Take time to do the things you love, and share the love you have for them.

As part of this second issue of Volume 5, I am pleased to welcome Sintia Xhiku, who is serving as co-Editor-in-Chief, along with Angela Zhou, who continues her role as a guiding force of this extraordinary publication. I am also happy to say that following the very positive external review of the Department of Immunology at the end of my first term as chair, I have accepted a second 5-year term, and thus look forward to continue working with our phenomenal faculty, talented graduate students and the astonishing IMMpress editorial team. However, ahead of this, Dr. Dana Philpott will be serving as acting chair from July 2017 to March 2018, while I take an academic leave to focus on ongoing and new research initiatives in the lab. I think this is something that my future self would have wanted the present me to have done.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and the upcoming ones, and importantly whether you are an alumnus of the department, or a prospective student, I really look forward to hearing from you.

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