The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) was one of three winners in the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) competition 2011-2012. The RI-MUHC won in the category of Projects for innovative strategic development aimed at supporting projects essential to maintaining the competitiveness of a research centre.
The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre
(RI-MUHC) was one of three winners in the Fonds de la recherche
en santé du Québec (FRSQ) competition 2011-2012. The RI-MUHC
won in the category of Projects for innovative strategic
development aimed at supporting projects essential to
maintaining the competitiveness of a research centre. This
four-year grant of $1.4M will allow the RI-MUHC to lead an
innovative research project to achieve their goal of developing
"We believe that the time is ripe to undertake this innovative
project with support from the FRSQ," says Dr. Vassilios
Papadopoulos, Director of the RI-MUHC, the MUHC hospital-based
research centre that focuses on translational research - the
translation of research from the bench to bedside. "If
successful, this work will create the roadmap to building
personalized medicine programs across a spectrum of diseases that
could lead to changes in healthcare delivery."
Under the auspices of this project, an interdisciplinary
research team will combine recent advances in bioinformatics,
state-of-the-art technologies, and new information about how
biological systems interact, to create a new RI-MUHC competitive
program in translational research. Researchers will focus on
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-alcoholic
Steatohepatitis (NASH) - leading causes of chronic liver diseases
that are emerging as a potential healthcare crisis.
"NAFLD and NASH will serve as a model for this new approach to
treating disease and will provide the tools to better diagnose and
manage a patient's disease or predisposition to it," explains Dr.
Tommy Nilsson, Director of the Proteomics and Systems Medicine
Program at the RI-MUHC, Professor at McGill University, Medical
Faculty, and lead investigator of the project. "This will form the
basis for personalized medicine in the future."
Frequently associated with obesity, NAFLD - where fat is
deposited in the liver - affects about one third of the adult
population worldwide. In 25% of those patients, NAFLD will progress
to NASH leading to inflammation and damage. Currently, there is no
single reliable biochemical marker that can diagnose NAFLD or its
progression to NASH and there are few treatment options other than
palliative support or liver transplantation. Diagnostic markers to
accurately identify patients with NAFLD and NASH are urgently
needed to provide cost-effective care.
"One of the goals of our project is to identify new and valuable
disease 'predictors' or biomarkers that will allow physicians to
better understand and predict the progression of NAFLD and NASH,"
explains Dr. Nilsson who is also Director of Proteomics at The
McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre. "These
predictors could form the basis of new diagnostic tests or
treatment options. If successful in liver disease, the methods used
here could be applied to other complex diseases."
This program will provide an excellent training opportunity for
a new generation of scientists and clinicians in advanced
techniques in molecular and cell biology and bioinformatics.
In addition to Dr. Tommy Nilsson (RI-MUHC/McGill), Dr. Peter
Metrakos (MUHC/McGill), Dr. John Bergeron (RI-MUHC/McGill), Dr. Rob
Sladek (RI-MUHC/McGill), Dr. Silvia Vidal (RI-MUHC/McGill), Dr.
Rima Rozen (RI-MUHC/McGill), Dr. Barry Posner (RI-MUHC/McGill), Dr.
Vassilios Papadopoulos (RI-MUHC/McGill) and colleagues from MUHC
and McGill participated in this research program.