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Kristy Favell is a young energetic graduate student at the Montreal Neurological Institute who is excited about nerve regeneration. She thinks nothing about spending her evenings and weekends in the lab and consequently, one day, may be the next Scientific Director of Merck, Pfizer or some other big pharma company. Favell, originally from B.C., came to the MNI at McGill, for its superior caliber of research projects, international reputation and outstanding faculty. She is not the only one with this high opinion of McGill — Research Infosource Inc., this week, declared McGill as Canadian Research University of the year in the Medical/Doctoral Category.
On hearing the news of McGill's new ranking, Dean of Medicine Abraham Fuks expressed his delight. "I am not the least bit surprised. McGill has extraordinarily talented faculty who are making wonderful discoveries, which brings in increased research funding."
He explained that the combination of new recruits and senior scientists leads to a research-intensive and focused environment. "I am proud of all of them."
Research Infosource Inc. ranks universities by awarding them points out of a score of 100. McGill scored an impressive 97.3, followed by University of Toronto (91.7) and McMaster University (90). Half of the points were based on financial input indicators such as total sponsored research income, research income per full-time faculty position and research income per full-time graduate student. The other half was based on the number of publications in leading journals per full-time faculty member.
McGill came out on top in the ability of its individual professors to attract research funding and their capacity to publish in high impact journals.
"It is very wonderful to see that McGill is the first in the country and is getting recognition for the things that count [for research] including the number of publications and the ability to attract funding," says Acting Vice-Principal of Research, Jacques Hurtubise.
The one discrepancy of McGill's ranking is its lower score for graduate research intensity. McGill ranked eighth, behind the University of Quebec in Abitibi-Temiscamingue and Lakehead University. According to Hurtubise the method used to calculate this indicator — total research funding per full-time graduate student — reflects the large number of McGill students. "We are penalized with a lower ranking partially because we are extraordinarily successful at attracting graduate students, despite limited funding."
According to the Interim Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies James Nemes, the ranking is not just about the research faculty. "Graduate students and post doctoral fellows should take pride in this ranking. They contribute significantly to the research and are part of us getting out there. McGill's graduate student and post docs are very competitive at getting Canada-wide research grants from agencies such as the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
Meanwhile Favell is concentrating on the complex problem of how to get nerve cells to regenerate. She believes that her McGill training is providing her with the skills to be a good researcher and to become a confident and well-rounded scientist. She is enrolled as a master's student in Phil Barker's lab at the MNI. She is planning to soon transfer to the PhD program and when asked whether she's made the right choice moving to Montreal she replied, "I'm happy."
This week McGill was also declared one of World's top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education Supplement. McGill is the only Canadian school to be in the top 50 in all 5 categories (biomedicine, arts & humanities, social sciences, technology, science). Our best ranking is in arts & humanities, where McGill is ranked 15, up from 32 in 2004.