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Updated: 22 min 57 sec ago

MITACS funding information session

Thu, 08/06/2015 - 12:38

On Thursday, Sept. 3, at 10:30 a.m. in the James Administration Building, Rebecca Reich, Director of Business Development at MITACS will present the numerous funding opportunities MITACS offers to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers in the social sciences and humanities to extend their international and intersectoral research collaborations. RSVP is required to attend. Learn more.

Aug. 13: SURE Poster Presentation Fair

Wed, 08/05/2015 - 10:10

People are invited to attend the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) Poster Presentation Fair on Thursday, Aug. 13, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. in the Trottier Building. SURE students work closely with a McGill Engineering professor on a research projects for the summer. The program provides exposure to the research experience as well as opportunities to learn more about the graduate school experience and about careers in research. Learn more about SURE.

 

Scientists identify key gene associated with addiction

Wed, 08/05/2015 - 09:42

A new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry by a team led by Salah El Mestikawy, researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute (CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’île-de-Montréal), professor at McGill and head of research at CNRS INSERM UPMC in Paris, opens the field to new understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying addiction in humans.

This work was accomplished through collaboration with several international research teams. Among these researchers was Stéphane Jamain (CR1 INSERM, Université de Créteil, France), a French geneticist specialized in psychiatric disorders.

Communication is key

To communicate with each other, brain cells (neurons) use chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Among the classical neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and glutamate. Until recently, it was believed that a given neuron used only one classical neurotransmitter. Some time ago, El Mestikawy’s team contributed to the surprising discovery that subpopulations of neurons are able to use two transmitters. Unlike the vast majority of neurons, these neurons are bilingual. Most neurons in the brain respond with either “yes”, “no” or “maybe.” El Mestikawy and his colleagues found that in order to regulate our reward behaviours, a small population of neurons in our reward centre are able to respond with both “yes” and “no.” These neurons are known as cholinergic neurons, while the reward centre is known as the nucleus accumbens.

In this new work, the researchers discovered that when they shut down one of the languages (the “no”) of cholinergic neurons within the reward centre, mice showed a marked predilection for cocaine. This work explains the molecular mechanism underlying reward behaviour, while identifying an unsuspected target in the treatment of addiction.

Finally, the team found that humans with mutation of a key gene for this co-transmission were 10 times more vulnerable to very severe forms of addiction. “These discoveries are bringing about a major transformation in the field of addiction. We are beginning to decipher and understand the complex regulation of basic behaviours” says El Mestikawy.

Read the complete study in Molecular Psychiatry

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Study sheds surprising light on the causes of cerebral palsy

Tue, 08/04/2015 - 13:42

The new study could have major implications on the future of counselling, prevention and treatment of children with cerebral palsy.

Wider use of genetic testing in children with CP should be considered, says researchers

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disability in children. Every year 140 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in Quebec.

It has historically been considered to be caused by factors such as birth asphyxia, stroke and infections in the developing brain of babies. In a new game-changing Canadian study, a research team from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) has uncovered strong evidence for genetic causes of cerebral palsy that turns experts’ understanding of the condition on its head.

The study, published online in Nature Communications could have major implications on the future of counselling, prevention and treatment of children with cerebral palsy.

Dr. Michael Shevell (study co-author) and Dr. Maryam Oskoui (lead study author) both researchers at the RI-MUHC from the Child Health and Human Development Program. / Photo courtesy of MUHC Public Affairs

“Our research suggests that there is a much stronger genetic component to cerebral palsy than previously suspected,” says the lead study author Dr. Maryam Oskoui, Paediatric neurologist at The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the MUHC, co-director of the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Registry and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill. “How these genetic factors interplay with other established risk factors remains to be fully understood. For example, two newborns exposed to the same environmental stressors will often have very different outcomes. Our research suggests that our genes impart resilience, or conversely a susceptibility to injury.”

Children with cerebral palsy have difficulties in their motor development early on, and often have epilepsy and learning, speech, hearing and visual impairments. Two out of every thousand births are affected by cerebral palsy with a very diverse profile; some children are mildly affected while others are unable to walk on their own or communicate. Genetic testing is not routinely done or recommended, and genetic causes are searched for only in rare occasions when other causes cannot be found.

The research team performed genetic testing on 115 children with cerebral palsy and their parents from the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Registry, many of which had other identified risk factors. They found that 10 per cent of these children have copy number variations (CNVs) affecting genes deemed clinically relevant. In the general population such CNVs are found in less than one per cent of people. CNVs are structural alterations to the DNA of a genome that can be present as deletions, additions, or as reorganized parts of the gene that can result in disease.

“When I showed the results to our clinical geneticists, initially they were floored,” says Dr. Stephen Scherer, Principal Investigator of the study and Director of The Centre for Applied Genomics (TCAG) at SickKids. “In light of the findings, we suggest that genomic analyses be integrated into the standard of practice for diagnostic assessment of cerebral palsy.”

The study also demonstrates that there are many different genes involved in cerebral palsy. “It’s a lot like autism, in that many different CNVs affecting different genes are involved which could possibly explain why the clinical presentations of both these conditions are so diverse,” says Scherer, who is also Director of the University of Toronto McLaughlin Centre. “Interestingly, the frequency of de novo, or new, CNVs identified in these patients with cerebral palsy is even more significant than some of the major CNV autism research from the last 10 years. We’ve opened many doors for new research into cerebral palsy.”

“Finding an underlying cause for a child’s disability is an important undertaking in management,” says Dr. Michael Shevell, co-director of the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Registry and Chair of the Department of Paediatrics at the MCH-MUHC. “Parents want to know why their child has particular challenges. Finding a precise reason opens up multiple vistas related to understanding, specific treatment, prevention and rehabilitation. This study will provide the impetus to make genetic testing a standard part of the comprehensive assessment of the child with cerebral palsy.”

Antonia Maioni named AVP, Research and International Relations

Tue, 08/04/2015 - 12:47

Antonia Maioni, newly appointed as AVP (Research and International Relations). / Photo: Owen Egan

Dr. Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) has appointed Professor Antonia Maioni as Associate Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) at McGill. As a member of the Research and International Relations senior management team, Prof. Maioni will support the overall mission of advancing research excellence at McGill, with a particular emphasis on — though not limited to — the social sciences and humanities. She will play a key role in increasing McGill’s successful nominations for awards and recognition for research and researchers; updating the Strategic Research Plan; overseeing some of RIR’s responsibilities as they relate to selected research policies; and enhancing McGill’s international research presence.

Also serving McGill as a Professor in the Department of Political Science and in the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, Prof. Maioni teaches and has published extensively in public policy and Canadian and Quebec comparative politics. Her research has been funded by SSHRC, CIHR, FRQSC, Max Bell and the AUCC.

On the national scene, Prof. Maioni served as President of the Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences from 2013-2015, as a board member of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and the Institute for Research on Public Policy. She now sits on the Research Council of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Prof. Maioni is a frequent media commentator on Canadian and Quebec politics, in both official languages.

Midnight Kitchen celebrates successful harvest

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 09:43

Midnight Kitchen participants enjoying homemade goods at final garden meal of the season. / Photo: Krystle Manintveld

By Krystle Manintveld

A collection of students and community members gathered outside Burnside on Wednesday to share their final ‘garden meal’ of the season. The meal was put together largely from vegetables grown right on the McGill downtown campus thanks to the efforts of Midnight Kitchen volunteers.

The menu included tomatoes stuffed with rice, pasta spiced with garden fresh herbs and even homemade ice tea with flavours from the Midnight Kitchen’s garden.

During the school year, Midnight Kitchen serves around 200 people every day beginning at 12:30 p.m. according to Tassia Araujo, one of the volunteers and a McGill Environmental Science student. The meals are free or pay-what-you-can. Students and members of the community are welcome to join – all that is required is for diners to bring their own dish and utensils.

But the goal is not only about providing meals for students or people who might be financially in need. “Students don’t always have the time to prepare food,” says Araujo. By working together, healthy and inexpensive meals are made available to students who might be too busy or even who might not know how to prepare nutritious meals on their own.

Midnight Kitchen serves only vegan options. This allows them to be inclusive and accessible of as many dietary restrictions as possible and is generally a low-cost and more sustainable choice. The group takes donations of food from local grocers in order to “use food surplus that would otherwise go to waste.” Additional funding is provided by a SSMU initiative which has allowed the group to hire paid organizers in addition to its volunteer staff.

For anyone looking to get involved with Midnight Kitchen, they are always looking for volunteers to assist with cooking and cleaning and have paid positions open for the fall as well. Interested participants can contact: midnightkitchencollective@gmail.com

 

CFI invests $1.2 million to boost McGill research excellence

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 15:42

By Meaghan Thurston

More than $1.2 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) was announced today for infrastructure to support 12 innovative research projects at McGill. Among the projects that will benefit: Professor Nicole Li’s work at the Faculty of Medicine’s School of Communications Sciences and Disorders developing a computational model for patient-specific treatments for vocal-fold afflictions, which can end the careers of teachers, actors, singers, lawyers, coaches, broadcasters and others whose profession relies on their voice.

Prof. Nicole Li, who is developing computational models for voice afflictions, is one of the McGill researchers who will benefit from CFI funding announced today.

The new investments will be made through the CFI’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund, which is designed to help universities attract and retain the very best researchers by ensuring they have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. A total investment of $30 million was announced, to be distributed among 33 institutions across the country.

“McGill University thanks the Canada Foundation for Innovation for its continued support for research and innovation through investments in research infrastructure,” said Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations.) “The McGill research projects awarded the John R. Evans Leaders Fund, bolstered by advanced infrastructure, will have innumerable real-world impacts in areas as diverse as personalized medicine, volcanology and the development of energy-efficient technologies.”

Professor Li, one of the researchers to receive funding in this competition, is at the cutting edge of developing non-invasive diagnostic tools through computer modelling to evaluate the pliable and soft vocal cords. Damage to the vocal cords is a common problem plaguing singers, teachers and other voice professionals: benign polyps, cysts, granulomas and nodules, which are growths akin to calluses that develop on the vocal cords and can bleed under the demands of performance, ultimately leave the vocal cords less pliable and soft; as a result, the voice becomes hoarse and cracks.

With the CFI funding, Prof. Li is looking forward to investing in important equipment and advancing the basic science behind the computer modelling: “[Our team] is the only one in the world developing such computational models for vocal fold healing,” she says. “Regarding studying the genetic variation and activity related to vocal damage and repair in patients, no one else has done the systematic work that we’re going to do. Our lab, together with other engineers at McGill, are trying to build a very strong and competitive voice program in the country which will include a clinical side. We want to make computer software for clinicians so that they can see which treatment will be optimal for their patients.”

The complete list of McGill-led CFI-funded projects, totalling $1,222,910, includes:

  • Kim Berlo: Assessing spatial chemical heterogeneity in volcanic rocks to study magma degassing ($220,000)
  • Marie-Hélène Boudrias: Assessment of age-and-stroke-related changes in the human motor network using multimodal approaches ($71,747)
  • Marie-Josée Dumont: Infrastructure for bio-based materials and chemicals laboratory ($106,200)
  • Claudia Kleinman: Computational approaches towards cancer targeted therapies ($60,000)
  • Nicole Yee-Key Li: Infrastructure for the study of personalized medicine for voice restoration ($100,000)
  • Georgios Mitsis: Laboratory to study the regulation of CD T cell function in healthy disease ($57, 322)
  • Thomas Preston: Instrumentation for the Study of Atmospheric Aerosols ($200,000)
  • Martin Richer: Laboratory to study the regulation of CD8 T cell function in health and disease ($100,000)
  • Marc Roig: The Memory and Motor Rehabilitation Laboratory: MEMORY-LAB ($69,840)
  • Agus Sasmito: Energy-efficient ventilation and total air conditioning system in underground mines ($50,000)
  • Ayensure Ipek Tureli: Emerging Methods for Digital Research in Architectural History ($139,801)
  • Yu Xia: Computing infrastructure for high-resolution systems biology ($48,000)

Getting started with the CCV and Uniweb

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 11:00

A hands-on walk-through of the Canadian Common CV (CCV) system and McGill’s Uniweb will be offered by the Office of Sponsored Research on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 10 a.m. at the School of Continuing Studies. Applicants to the FRQSC Start-up Program for New Research Professors and/or the SSHRC Insight Development Grant program are encouraged to attend this information session that will explain the steps involved when completing and submitting the CCV on the SSHRC and FRQSC application platforms. RSVP is required to attend. Learn more here.

MUHC conducts first islet cell transplant in Quebec

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 10:05

From left to right: Dr. Benoît Gallix; Svetalna Bityutskaya; Maria Renzullo; Zohra Nabbus, patient; Dr. Steven Paraskevas; Marco Gasparrini; and Craig Hasilo. / Photo courtesy Dave Sidaway, The Montreal Gazette

By MUHC Public Affairs

The MUHC has conducted the first islet cell transplant in Quebec. The breakthrough was made at the Glen site of the MUHC after the complex process of isolating islet cells from a donor pancreas was achieved at the MUHC Human Islet Transplant Laboratory. The procedure, which does not require surgery and reduces hospital stays ten-fold, is a significant advancement in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, and marks the first step in what researchers hope will be the development of a regional network for this novel therapy.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D), sometimes referred to as autoimmune or juvenile diabetes, results from the pancreas’ failure to produce enough insulin, causing disruption to blood sugar regulation in the body. The disease cannot be prevented and requires lifelong monitoring of blood sugar, and daily insulin injections, in order to prevent serious long-term complications, such as blindness, stroke, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

“For some patients, pancreas transplantation maybe an option, but there are significant risks, and the surgery often involves specialized care in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and a hospital stay that could be as long as a month,” says Dr. Steven Paraskevas, Director of the Pancreas and Islet Transplant Program at the MUHC. The infusion of islets – the clusters of pancreatic cells that produce insulin – is a non-surgical technique that is being explored in some academic medical centres as an alternative to the transplantation of the whole pancreas organ.

“As the procedure is minimally invasive, it represents an incredible improvement for patients, as well as the healthcare system, through reductions in risk and infection rates, improved recovery time, and hospital stays measured in hours to days, rather than weeks,” says Dr. Paraskevas, who is also an Associate Professor of Surgery at McGill.

For patient, Zohra Nabbus, from Pointe Claire, Quebec, life with type 1 diabetes had become increasingly challenging. After kidney transplantation and unsuccessful pancreas transplantation, she was suffering more frequent episodes of hypoglycemia. “It had got to point where I couldn’t be left alone anymore, so when I heard that islet cell transplant had been developed at the MUHC, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a candidate,” she said.

The procedure began in May at the Human Islet Transplant Laboratory where islet cells were separated from a suitable donor pancreas – a delicate process that has required years of investment in technology and medical expertise. Two days later, the isolated islets were infused into the patient’s liver through a small catheter in the abdomen, without the need for surgery. The entire procedure was conducted in the interventional radiology suite at the Glen site of the MUHC.

“Once the cells were transfused into the liver, we monitored the patient and waited,” says Dr. Benoit Gallix, Director of Radiology at the MUHC and Chair of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at McGill University, who conducted the procedure with MUHC radiologist Dr. Tatiana Cabrera, who is also an Assistant Professor at McGill. “Within a few days the patient began producing insulin on her own, and after several weeks she was completely insulin independent – the entire procedure could not have gone better.”

Additionally, the entire process only required one infusion, rather than the two or three that the researchers had expected. “Our team advanced the established protocol by using a Giner Portable Pancreas Persufflation™ System – a new piece of technology that keeps the pancreas oxygenated after it is recovered from the donor and before the islets are isolated,” says Craig Hasilo, Manager of the Human Islet Transplant Laboratory. “We believe this resulted in better quality cells being transplanted, thereby reducing the need for multiple infusions.”

Life has changed rapidly for Zohra Nabbus. “After living with type 1 diabetes for 35 years, it’s hard to get out of the habit of planning your meals, monitoring your blood sugar, and preparing your insulin, but finally I can,” she said. “I have more freedom and flexibility to live my life and I feel much more secure.”

The MUHC has been developing the expertise to conduct this procedure for the past decade, and is the only centre in eastern Canada, and one of only a dozen in North America, capable of isolating and transplanting human islet cells. “Our vision is to establish a network, where islet cells are processed at our institution for infusion at healthcare facilities across the region,” says Dr. Paraskevas. “Quebec is the perfect place to build a network such as this because of our higher than average donor rates.”

“Transplant Québec welcomes the experienced team at MUHC, led by Dr. Steven Paraskevas, and is delighted that Quebec can count on the Human Islet Transplant Laboratory in providing innovative treatment to patients whose health and quality of life will be greatly improved. We will continue to be at the forefront to support the work of the Laboratory as we have done in the research phase. This collaboration is at the heart of the mission of Transplant Québec, which coordinates organ donation in the province of Quebec,” acknowledged Louis Beaulieu, CEO of Transplant Québec.

Islet cell transplantation is currently considered a novel therapy in Canada, and has been assessed for expanded use by the MUHC’s Technology Assessment Unit (TAU), as well as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for approval in the United States. The procedure is already a recognized therapy for diabetes in the UK and Europe. There are approximately three million people afflicted with diabetes in Canada, over 300,000 of which have type 1 diabetes.

Get more information.

 

Practice doesn’t always make perfect (depending on your brain)

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 09:34

Robert Zatorre’s new study fuels the nature versus debate.

Study fuels nature versus debate

By Anita Kar

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? New research on the brain’s capacity to learn suggests there’s more to it than the adage that “practise makes perfect.” A music-training study by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, at McGill University and colleagues in Germany found evidence to distinguish the parts of the brain that account for individual talent from the parts that are activated through training.

The research involved brain imaging studies of 15 young adults with little or no musical background who were scanned before and after they underwent six weeks of musical training. Participants were required to learn simple piano pieces. Brain activity in certain areas changed after learning, indicating the effect of training. But the activity in a different set of brain structures, measured before the training session had started, predicted which test subjects would learn quickly or slowly.

“Predisposition plays an important role for auditory-motor learning that can be clearly distinguished from training-induced plasticity,” says Dr. Robert Zatorre, a cognitive neuroscientist at The Neuro who co-directs Montreal’s International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) and is lead author of the study in Cerebral Cortex. “Our findings pertain to the debate about the relative influence of ‘nature or nurture,’ but also have potential practical relevance for medicine and education.”

The research could help to create custom-made interventions for students and for neurological patients based on their predisposition and needs.

Future cognitive neuroscience studies will explore the extent to which individual differences in predisposition are a result of brain plasticity due to previous experiences and to people’s genetics.

The study was conducted by Dr. Zatorre’s trainees, Sibylle Herholz and Emily Coffey at The Neuro and BRAMS, and by Christo Pantev at the Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, University of Münster, Germany.

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Fund for Innovation, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Read the study in Cerebral Cortex

 

McGill gets $91.5M in CIHR funding

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 09:19

McGill researchers land 24 of 150 inaugural Foundation grants for high-impact, long-term programs

Photo: John Kelsey

By MUHC Public Affairs

Researchers from McGill and its hospital-affiliated research institutes have been awarded $91.5 million in grants in the latest round of funding by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The grants – which will support research into areas from brain disorders to the health effects of climate change in the Arctic – are part of over $600 million in funding announced today by Health Minister Rona Ambrose for researchers working at universities and hospitals across Canada.

The announcement covers two categories of funding:

A new category, called “Foundation” grants, provides larger amounts of long-term support for innovative, high-impact programs of research; McGill researchers have been awarded 24 of these grants, for a total of $60.6 million.

Transitional Open Operating grants, for specific projects, will provide a total of more than $30 million for 44 McGill researchers.

The Foundation grants cover a seven-year period for established investigators, and five years for early-career investigators. Four early-career researchers at McGill landed grants in that sub-category.

Here is a list of the McGill recipients of Foundation grants, indicating the institution and/or Faculty of the investigator; a description of the program; and the amount of the award. (* = early-career investigator):

Iyer, Srividya N, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Medicine. Enhancing youth mental health: A program of research into mental healthcare needs, pathways, outcomes and services. $3,770,245

Azoulay, Laurent *, Jewish General Hospital, Medicine. Cancer pharmacoepidemiology: a population-based assessment of the risks of prescription drugs in vulnerable populations. $852,701

Chertkow, Howard M, Jewish General Hospital, Medicine. Typical and atypical Alzheimer Disease: salivary tau biomarkers, therapy with neuromodulation, and disease subtypes. $1,695,053

Kahn, Susan R, Jewish General Hospital, Medicine. Improving long term outcomes after venous thromboembolism (VTE). $2,050,824

Schiffrin, Ernesto L, Jewish General Hospital, Medicine. Vascular remodeling in hypertension and cardiometabolic disease: from mice to humans. $3,164,111

Cullen, Kathleen E, Medicine. Program of investigating vestibular physiology and its disorders. $2,469,570

Dagher, Alain, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Functional Neuroimaging of dopamine systems: application to Parkinson’s Disease, addiction and obesity. $2,155,301

Ehrlicher, Allen J *, Engineering. Cellular mechanotransduction in the actin cytoskeleton. $665,484

Ford, James D *, Science. A research program on adaptation to the health effects of climate change in the Canadian Arctic $753,001

Franco, Eduardo L, Medicine. Research Program on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Human Papillomavirus Infection and Associated Cancers $2,350,689

Gotman, Jean, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Electrical and metabolic manifestations of human focal epilepsy $2,291,930

Park, Morag, Medicine. Mechanisms of Met activation in cancer and therapeutic intervention $3,507,282

Petrides, Michael, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Comparative functional and anatomical study of human and monkey cortex $1,665,281

Rouleau, Guy A, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Genetic & Biological Studies of Brain Disorders $4,959,666

Ruthazer, Edward S, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent neural circuit development $2,184,958

Zatorre, Robert J, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience: Pathways, Processes, Plasticity and Predispositions $1,889,652

Bourque, Charles W, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Central control of osmoregulation in health and disease $2,719,408

Divangahi, Maziar * Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Regulation of Anti-Microbial Macrophage Response to Pulmonary Infections $1,293,210

Klein, Marina B, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Tracking a revolution: Evaluating the impact of modern HCV therapy on HIV-HCV coinfection $4,835,202

Menzies, Richard, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Tackling the two greatest obstacles to Tuberculosis elimination: Treatment of latent infection and drug resistant disease $7,899,734

Platt, Robert W, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Statistical Methods in Pharmacoepidemiology and Perinatal Epidemiology $1,071,717

Rak, Janusz, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Targeting vascular mechanisms of cancer progression $3,313,788

Schurr, Erwin A, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Host genetic dissection of mycobacterial infection phenotypes $2,478,941

Seuntjens, Jan P, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Monte Carlo techniques in the optimization of radiation therapy delivery and outcomes $596,694

Full lists of CIHR grant recipients

McGill gets $91.5 million in CIHR funding

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 16:11

McGill health researchers land 24 of 150 inaugural Foundation grants for high-impact, long-term programs

Researchers from McGill University and its hospital-affiliated research institutes have been awarded $91.5 million in grants in the latest round of funding by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The grants — which will support research into areas from brain disorders to the health effects of climate change in the Arctic — are part of over $600 million in funding announced today by Health Minister Rona Ambrose for researchers working at universities and hospitals across Canada.

The announcement covers two categories of funding:

  • A new category, called “Foundation” grants, provides larger amounts of long-term support for innovative, high-impact programs of research; McGill researchers have been awarded 24 of these grants, for a total of $60.6 million.
  • Transitional Open Operating grants, for specific projects, will provide a total of more than $30 million for 44 McGill researchers.

The Foundation grants cover a seven-year period for established investigators, and five years for early-career investigators. Four early-career researchers at McGill landed grants in that sub-category.

Here is a list of the McGill recipients of Foundation grants, indicating the institution and/or Faculty of the investigator; a description of the program; and the amount of the award. (*= early-career investigator):

·         Iyer, Srividya N, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Medicine. Enhancing youth mental health: A program of research into mental healthcare needs, pathways, outcomes and services. $3,770,245

·         Azoulay, Laurent *, Jewish General Hospital, Medicine. Cancer pharmacoepidemiology: a population-based assessment of the risks of prescription drugs in vulnerable populations. $852,701

·         Chertkow, Howard M, Jewish General Hospital, Medicine. Typical and atypical Alzheimer Disease: salivary tau biomarkers, therapy with neuromodulation, and disease subtypes. $1,695,053

·         Kahn, Susan R, Jewish General Hospital,  Medicine. Improving long term outcomes after venous thromboembolism (VTE). $2,050,824

·         Schiffrin, Ernesto L, Jewish General Hospital,  Medicine. Vascular remodeling in hypertension and cardiometabolic disease: from mice to humans. $3,164,111

·         Cullen, Kathleen E, Medicine. Program of investigating vestibular physiology and its disorders. $2,469,570

·         Dagher, Alain, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Functional Neuroimaging of dopamine systems: application to Parkinson’s Disease, addiction and obesity. $2,155,301

·         Ehrlicher, Allen J *, Engineering. Cellular mechanotransduction in the actin cytoskeleton. $665,484

·         Ford, James D *, Science. A research program on adaptation to the health effects of climate change in the Canadian Arctic. $753,001

·         Franco, Eduardo L, Medicine. Research Program on the Epidemiology and Prevention of Human Papillomavirus Infection and Associated Cancers. $2,350,689

·         Gotman, Jean, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Electrical and metabolic manifestations of human focal epilepsy. $2,291,930

·         Park, Morag, Medicine. Mechanisms of Met activation in cancer and therapeutic intervention. $3,507,282

·         Petrides, Michael, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Comparative functional and anatomical study of human and monkey cortex. $1,665,281

·         Rouleau, Guy A, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine. Genetic & Biological Studies of Brain Disorders. $4,959,666

·         Ruthazer, Edward S, Montreal Neurological Institute, Medicine.  Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying activity-dependent neural circuit development. $2,184,958

·         Zatorre, Robert J, Montreal Neurological Institute,  Medicine.  Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience: Pathways, Processes, Plasticity and Predispositions. $1,889,652

·         Bourque, Charles W  Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine.   Central control of osmoregulation in health and disease. $2,719,408

·         Divangahi, Maziar * Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Regulation of Anti-Microbial Macrophage Response to Pulmonary Infections. $1,293,210

·         Klein, Marina B Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Tracking a revolution: Evaluating the impact of modern HCV therapy on HIV-HCV coinfection. $4,835,202

·         Menzies, Richard Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Tackling the two greatest obstacles to Tuberculosis elimination: Treatment of latent infection and drug resistant disease. $7,899,734

·         Platt, Robert W  Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Statistical Methods in Pharmacoepidemiology and Perinatal Epidemiology. $1,071,717

·         Rak, Janusz  Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Targeting vascular mechanisms of cancer progression. $3,313,788

·         Schurr, Erwin A Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Host genetic dissection of mycobacterial infection phenotypes. $2,478,941

·         Seuntjens, Jan P  Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Medicine. Monte Carlo techniques in the optimization of radiation therapy delivery and outcomes. $596,694

Full lists of CIHR grant recipients are available here: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/196.html

 

Is cocaine in your catch of the day?

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 11:39

Drugs in wastewater contaminate sources of drinking water

By Katherine Gombay

Both prescription and illegal drugs such as morphine, cocaine and oxycodone have been found in surface waters in Canadian rivers. New research from McGill shows that wastewater discharged from wastewater treatment plants in the Grand River watershed of southern Ontario has the potential to contaminate sources of drinking water with these drugs.

The study, which was just published in the journal Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, shows that although these drugs are found only in relatively limited quantities in the river water, their concentration did not decline with distance downstream from the wastewater treatment plant discharge. Moreover, many of the drugs were not removed completely during drinking water treatment.

A wastewater treatment plant cleans the bulk of contaminants from the wastewater which arrives from sources ranging from household wastes to chemical plants prior to discharging the water into the river. At some distance downstream in the river, a drinking water treatment plant then further treat the water prior to consumption.

Prof. Viviane Yargeau of McGill’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

“Improving our wastewater treatment processes can help clean up our drinking water,” said lead author Prof. Viviane Yargeau, of McGill’s Department of Chemical Engineering. “While previous studies have shown that there are trace elements of various chemicals that remain in our drinking water, what is novel about this research is that we looked at the chemicals that are found in the water course between the wastewater treatment plant and the drinking water treatment plant. And what we found has some disturbing implications for the aquatic environment.”

“These results demonstrated a link between wastewater plant discharges and quality of potable water sources,” said Prof. Yargeau. “Although drinking water treatment plants remove most of the contaminants found in our drinking water, we believe that if improvements are made to wastewater treatment plants to protect the sources of drinking water, this will prove a more effective way of dealing with the problem in the long run — as this strategy would also protect the aquatic environment and all the plants, insects and fish that are found there.”

The next stage in Prof. Yargeau’s research will be a five-year project to look into how improvements of wastewater treatment and natural processes along rivers impact the presence of contaminants of concern in our drinking water.

Read the full article.

Researchers from McGill and Laval

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:42

Salmonella bacteria

Poultry used to be the usual suspect in cases of Salmonella poisoning. Today, however, most outbreaks of the illness come from fruit and vegetables that have become infected when the soil in which they grow is polluted by animal waste or non-potable water. There currently is no method of reducing the growth of Salmonella on such produce.

Researchers from McGill and Laval universities will receive close to $10 million over the next four years for work that is designed to both identify and find natural solutions for the reducing the growth of the salmonella strains that cause human disease.

This is one of two Quebec-based research projects that will receive funding from Genome Canada and Génome Québec under the program Genomics and Feeding the Future.”

“McGill’s researchers are committed to reducing foodborne disease outbreaks, which are a significant global public health threat. Genome Canada and Genome Quebec’s major investment in genomic research will lead to innovative preventive interventions for Salmonella-induced disease, and further study methods to eradicate it,” said Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations).

Dr. Lawrence Goodridge of McGill is co-leading a team that is using whole genome sequencing to identify the specific Salmonella strains that cause human disease.

Each year, Salmonella infects some 88,000 people in Canada who consume contaminated food. And while many people suffer no ill effects, or a mild case of abdominal cramps, fever or diarrhea, others experience more serious infections, which can result in dehydration or infection travelling beyond the intestines, requiring medical attention and resulting in disability or even death. Salmonella infection is thought to cost the Canadian economy as much as $1 billion each year in medical costs, absences from work and economic losses to food companies and restaurants.

Dr. Lawrence Goodridge of McGill and Roger C. Levesque from the Institute for Integrative Systems Biology (IBIS), Université Laval, are leading a team that is using whole genome sequencing to identify the specific Salmonella strains that cause human disease. With this knowledge, the team will develop natural biosolutions to control the presence of Salmonella in fruit and vegetables as they are growing in the field. The team will also develop new tests to rapidly and efficiently detect the presence of Salmonella on fresh produce before it is sold to consumers, as well as tools to allow public health officials to determine the source of Salmonella outbreaks when they occur, so that contaminated food can be quickly removed from grocery stores and restaurants. Their work will reduce the number of people infected with Salmonella each year, as well as the economic costs of the infection.

Dori Yates wrestles her way to Pan Am gold

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 07:12

Dori Yates, a 21-year-old civil engineering student, won gold in the women’s 69-kilogram freestyle wresting competition at the Pan Am Games on July 17. / Photo: Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee.

You would figure that winning gold in wrestling at the Pan Am games last Friday would give Dorothy (Dori) Yates bragging rights in her house. Not necessarily so, as her father, Doug Yates, accomplished the same feat back in 1979. However, it would have been hard for the senior Yates to have won in a more dominating fashion than his talented daughter, who beat Maria Acosta of Venezuela in the women’s 69-kg class by a score of 13-2. The match was called early after Yates earned a 10-point lead, in what is called technical superiority in freestyle wrestling.

In fact, at one point in the match the 21-year-old civil engineering freshman was turning her opponent over so quickly that the judges actually lost track of how many points she was scoring and declared her the winner prematurely. After taking Acosta to the mat, Yates locked the Venezuelan’s ankles and rolled her repeatedly, a move that is worth two points every time her opponent’s back faced the mat. The frustrated Acosta had no answer for the onslaught, seemingly poking Yates in the mouth and eyes at one point, pulling her hair and even throwing a punch to try and break the hold.

Dori Yates takes down Maria Acosta of Venezuela en route to a dominating win in the gold medal match at the Pan Am Games. / Photo: Mike Ridewood/COC

“The refs lost track of how many I did,” said Yeats in a post-bout interview. “They lost track of whether I did enough to earn technical superiority (10 points ahead and automatic victory) or not enough. I kept my composure, kept my focus, figuring it would be overturned and went back in there.”

Despite her pedigree, Yates only started wrestling when she was 14, coming from gymnastics once she figured she was “too old” for the sport.

The move from tumbling mats to wrestling mats was a perfect fit for Yates, who won her first national championship just six months later. She exploded onto the international scene in 2010, winning gold at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games and more gold at consecutive Junior World Championships in 2012 and 2013.

Coming off the mats following her golden Pan Am performance, Yates embraced her father and coach, Doug. With her sights now set firmly on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, she may have difficulty equalling his record of five consecutive Olympics appearances for Canada. But she is may also accomplish something he never did – stand atop an Olympic podium as they play O Canada.

McGill student Dori Yates celebrates her gold medal win with her father and coach, Doug Yates (red shirt). / Photo: Mike Ridewood/COC

 

 

Organizational changes among steps taken to address UGME accreditation issues

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 14:21

Dean of Medicine updates community on implementation of action plan

By McGill Reporter staff

Dean of Medicine and Vice-Principal of Health Affairs David Eidelman has announced organizational changes as part of the action plan to address accreditation issues identified in a recent review of the Faculty’s Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) program.

Eidelman shared the changes with the Faculty of Medicine community in the first of what will be a series of updates on the work being conducted to correct the deficiencies identified by the U.S. Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) and the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS), who conducted the review. The UGME program remains fully accredited, but with probation. It is one of several programs offered by the Faculty of Medicine.

Creation of new Vice-Dean, Education position

The organizational changes the Faculty of Medicine will implement include the recruitment of a Vice-Dean, Education, to “support our educational mission in the same way as we do our research mission,” Eidelman said. The Vice-Dean will have oversight of the educational programs in all of the Faculty’s schools. The first task of the Vice-Dean will be to review the structure and organization of the UGME program.

The Faculty will also add a staff member to the current Accreditation Office, which is responsible for all professional program accreditations in the Faculty of Medicine. “This will help ensure that the processes, systems and policies required to meet our standards are well established and effective, and that meaningful data can be generated as needed,” the Dean explained.

And as part of the Faculty’s ongoing efforts to improve administrative services across all departments, the Medical Education Services, which include the Undergraduate Medical Education operations, have been reorganized.

Eidelman indicated the administrative changes will help “meet the needs of students, while also responding to the accreditation demands.”

Update on implementation of Preliminary Action Plan

To ensure rapid resolution of the accreditation issues, an Accreditation Implementation Committee, chaired by Dean Eidelman, has been put in place. This Committee, the mandate and composition of which can be found here, meets every two weeks.

Preliminary steps implemented to date include:

  • The timetable for achieving the Faculty’s strategic milestones, with outcome markers, has been updated and should now be compliant with the accreditation standard.
  • To ensure comparability of education and assessment between teaching sites, students in the Transition to Clinical Practice and Clerkship components of the UGME program will begin using myMED Portfolio to log information about their clinical encounters and clinical experiences in real-time. This new and valuable application will better help the Faculty identify and then address inconsistencies between sites.
  • The first of many steps to optimize the functioning of the Curriculum Committee has been taken. With the completion of its mandate, the New Curriculum Implementation Executive Committee has now been dissolved. As of July, all curricular decision-making and responsibility resides with the Curriculum Committee. Membership has been streamlined and the terms of reference have been revised to reaffirm its role and responsibility toward UGME.
  • To better connect with the clinical site directors and teaching faculty at its Gatineau site, the Faculty of Medicine has committed to holding an annual retreat for clerkship directors and clinical chairs in Gatineau, the first of which has already been scheduled.
  • The Faculty’s contracts of affiliation with major teaching hospitals have been updated to include a memorandum of understanding on the learning environment and accidental exposure protocols. These contracts have all been approved by the Boards of the partner institutions.

The Faculty of Medicine will consult regularly with the CACMS Secretariat over the coming months, beginning September 16 and 17, 2015, when they will visit the Faculty to confirm that the action plan is progressing according to expectations and will be ready for submission by the December deadline.

“The CACMS Secretariat was impressed that we had already developed an extensive action plan and that we published it online the same week we received our accreditation outcome,” the Dean said. “We look forward to meeting with them in September for formal feedback and approval of the actions specified in the plan.

“We are committed to excellence more than ever and fully engaged in addressing the accreditation results swiftly and thoroughly.”

Eidelman reiterated that the accreditation issues outlined in the review and work plan apply exclusively to the UGME program, and not to the Faculty’s other programs.

To read Dean David Eidelman’s message, click here.
To access the 2015 Accreditation Action Plan Framework, click here.

Butterfly specialist Mehain wins world championship bronze

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 04:15

Sarah Mehain won a bronze medal in the 50-metre butterfly (S7 category) at the International Paralympic Committee world swimming championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

By Earl Zukerman

Sarah Mehain, a swimmer from McGill, won a bronze medal in the 50-metre butterfly (S7 category) at the International Paralympic Committee world swimming championships in Glasgow, Friday.

Mehain was mobbed by her teammates after touching the wall in 36.98 seconds to give Canada its eighth medal of the meet (one gold, three silver, four bronze). The 20-year-old hopes her world championship success will pave the way for a podium finish at next year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janerio.

“You are always looking for where you are going,” said the Vernon, B.C., native who will enter her third year at McGill this fall, where she is studying in the Arts & Science program.

“Everything you do this year, everything I’ve done for the past two years, is looking forward to Rio. It’s all about building up for that.”

It was her second medal in as many trips to the world championships, where in 2013, she won bronze in the 100m backstroke. At the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, she reached the final in four of her six events.

Mehain has a congenital condition called hemiplegia. It results in one side of her body being weaker than the other, and not as coordinated.

The competition, which ends Sunday, has attracted 580 athletes from close to 70 countries to the Tollcross International Swimming Centre. It’s the largest swimming competition before next year’s Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janerio.

Results of the International Paralympic Committee world swimming championships can be found here.

Join the McGill-Centraide Organizing Committee

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 09:24

Join the McGill-Centraide Organizing Committee!.

Are you looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the greater Montreal community? By using your talents for the benefit of Centraide (known as the United Way in other parts of North America), you will be lending a helping hand to over 360 agencies – and 500,000 vulnerable Montrealers – supported by this independent philanthropic organization. In 2014, McGill led a record-breaking campaign for Centraide, raising over $468,000 and earning the distinction of being the most successful institutional campaign in Montreal in terms of increased participation and donations. Now, we are looking for motivated, fun-loving, and results-oriented people to join the 2015 McGill-Centraide Organizing Committee. Learn more.

Information session on SSHRC Insight Grants

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 09:19

The Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) is organizing an information session regarding the upcoming SSHRC Insight Grants competition on Monday, August 31, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the James Administrations Building Room 301. This session will provide potential applicants with insider information about the peer review system and strategies for developing successful Insight Grants proposals.

RSVP is required to attend. Learn more.

Join McGill’s Answer for Cancer team

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 09:14

Join McGill’s Answer for Cancer team (Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in Montreal).

For the third year in a row, McGill is making a commitment to reach out beyond the Roddick Gates by raising funds for breast cancer research, education and awareness programs. On Sunday, October 4, members of our community will walk and run in the 2015 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in Montreal. Join the team and join in the training sessions in advance of the run. The next training session will be July 21, at 5:30 p.m., meeting outside the James Administration Building. Participants will jog and walk for one hour. Learn more.

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