McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Fri, 07/12/2024 - 12:16

McGill Alert. The downtown campus will remain partially closed through the evening of Monday, July 15. See the Campus Safety site for details.

Alerte de McGill. Le campus du centre-ville restera partiellement fermé jusqu’au lundi 15 juillet, en soirée. Complément d’information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention

BBME Seminar Videos

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Accounting for the Interaction of Immunology, Epidemiology, Evolution, and Biophysical Processes in Covid-19 Mathematical Models - (Dr. Caroline Wagner)

Generally speaking, immunology, epidemiology, evolution, and biophysical processes related to pathogen transmission interact in the context of disease control. Particularly for emerging pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, minimal data availability combined with modeling / dynamical uncertainties can make correctly accounting for these factors in population-level disease models challenging. In this talk, we will present a minimal conceptual modeling framework for Covid-19 to study these interactions. Using this framework, we will focus on three primary topics: the impact of the strength and duration of natural and vaccinal immune responses on Covid-19 case burden and timing, epidemiological and evolutionary impacts of vaccine dose spacing, and epidemiological and evolutionary consequences of how vaccines are allocated between countries. We will then discuss ongoing work to better parametrize our models as data become increasingly available. In particular, we will introduce experimental methods for studying the biophysical processes underlying the impact of seasonality on disease transmission rates, as well as techniques to account for population-level immunological data.

The Microbiome as a Target in Mental Health and Neurodegeneration - (Dr. Thomas Tompkins)

The understanding that our diet, particularly one that is rich in fermented foods with live culture, can modulate our psychological well-being and our behaviour is an old concept well-established by the early 1900s. The advent and success of antibiotics and chemically synthesized pharmaceuticals displaced this concept. Now, with the emergence of new tools to examine the vastly under explored microbiome, there has been a major shift in the concept of the disease process. At the forefront has been our appreciation of the microbiome-gut-brain axis and the potential implication for the management of disease from autism to neurodegeneration, to major depressive disorder. This presentation will explore the clinical evidence surrounding the use of psychobiotics in the management of stress-related symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. Various mechanisms of action and future opportunities will be discussed.


Multimode Biomedical Optical Imaging for the Clinic  - That’s How the Light Gets In - (Daniel L. Farkas, Ph.D.)

For the bench-to-bedside dream of translational research to become a reality, we need to develop biophotonic approaches that, while technologically sophisticated, allow deployment into clinical settings [1]. Our focus area is where light (an exceptional investigative tool) and patient meet [2], and improvements that yield better outcomes. We approach this by identifying and addressing obstacles preventing the timely clinical adoption of laboratory-based advances, not the least of which is the difficulty of detecting and characterizing very small entities (molecules, cells) within the human body, especially dynamically, and preferably without contrast agents. How and where we look becomes critically important, especially if one targets (as one should) early diagnosis; for this, novel tools and strategies are needed, with likely new results. We proposed and implemented a multimode approach to biomedical optical imaging at all organizational levels [3], featuring hyperspectral imaging, and optimized for earlier, more quantitative and reproducible detection of abnormalities and a tighter spatio-temporal coupling between such diagnosis and intervention. Addressing major areas of unmet need in the clinical realm with these new capabilities could yield important improvements in disease management. Our work on cancer [4], stem cell [5], vascular [6] and neuro (highlighting very early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease) [7] applications will be described, with emphasis on the disruption needed to achieve the desired imaging performance, and their physics and engineering underpinnings. Thoughts [8] about better ways for academia, the clinical and the corporate world to work together for innovative biophotonic solutions and their use in addressing major disease will be briefly outlined.

Optics-based Point of Care Diagnostics for Low-Resource Settings (Dr. Zachary Smith)

Major health issues such as anemia, parasitic worms, malaria, and other communicable diseases are concentrated in exactly those areas of the world least equipped to deal with such diseases. Modern diagnostic tools are suitable only for use inside of large, centralized clinical laboratories. To alleviate these problems and broaden access to care for vulnerable populations, we utilize photonic-based technologies such as light scattering and fluorescence imaging, coupled with automated data analysis methods such as support vector machines and deep learning, to create new diagnostic and clinical assays that can be performed by totally untrained users in field settings. We will present recent results on automated blood counting, anemia diagnosis, and intestinal parasite diagnosis.

Towards Greener Electronics (Dr. Clara Santato)

Electronics have become indispensable in our daily routine. A great part of the electronic equipment that surrounds us belongs to what is known as conventional electronics, based on inorganic materials such as silicon and gallium arsenide.However, with the life of the electric and electronic equipment becoming shorter and shorter, two major issues arise for both the scientific community and municipalities: the increasing amount of Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and the depletion of natural resources. Taking into account the definition of sustainability provided by the United Nations (the ability of satisfying one generation’s needs without compromising the possibility of future generations to satisfy), those two issues point to the lack of sustainability in the electronics field of the current generation, at least so far. Consequently, great attention has been given to green (sustainable) electronics in the last years, having as core values (i) the use of abundant and low-cost precursors, leveraging on processing routes that (ii) lack toxic solvents as well as toxic waste and (iii) are low cost and (iv) involve biodegradable materials.In this contribution, we will present our preliminary results on the biodegradability and compostability of organic electronic materials of interest for electronics and energy storage devices, focusing on the case of study of melanin biopigments used in transistors, batteries and supercapacitors [1].

[1] E. Di Mauro, R. Xu, G. Soliveri, C. Santato, Natural melanin pigments and their interfaces with metal ions and oxides: emerging concepts and technologies, MRS Commun. 7 (2017) 141–151. doi:10.1557/mrc.2017.33.


Fast and Fluorescent - Multiplexing Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging for High Content Screening Applications (Dr. Qiyin Fang)

In confocal microscopy, a single foci is raster scanned to form a 2-dimension or 3-dimension image. To speed up such slow scan process, multiple foci can be used, e.g. through the use of a spinning disc. We developed a new multiplexing confocal technique that scans a 2D foci array only on the target but not on the imager.  Such methods allow the use of next generation discrete CMOS detector arrays and can achieves high throughput without sacrificing resolution, ideal for drug screening applications. 


The Power of Developing World Technology: Reverse Innovation (Maurizio Vecchione)

Global Health is at a cross-roads and as the bottom billion people begin to access modern healthcare, the possibility is that new models of healthcare priority and delivery will emerge, and in many ways leap frogging current standards of care. This will also impact research priorities and how translational work is conducted.  It is possible that  innovation sprouting to resolve developing world problems will also solve global problems and evolve modern medicine in new ways. This reverse innovation also creates new opportunities and priorities in research, and is creating an immense opportunity to innovate at a global scale, with both technology and economic impacts. We will share case studies and best practices from the front lines of Global Health and its innovation ecosystem.


Biomimetic Silica Based Nanobiocatalysts (Dr. Lorena Betancor)

Silica formation in biological systems is mediated by cationic proteins and peptides. Mimicking this process, a range of simple polyamine molecules can also catalyze an analogous in vitro reaction which allows the entrapment of enzymes under mild conditions in silica nanoparticles. The original approach, although extremely simple, has the potential to be adapted to a desired enzyme establishing a new paradigm in enzyme immobilization: instead of testing multiple supports to overcome the constraints imposed by certain materials to a particular protein, one could adapt the material to obtain active and robust heterogeneous biocatalysts. With this idea in mind, our group has designed complementary approaches for the immobilization of active and stable nanobiocatalysts of a variety of single and multi-enzyme systems in biomimetic silica nanoparticles (BSiNp). Our results demonstrate a particular versatility of biomimetic nanosilica to adapt to different classes of enzymatic systems and a contribution to the rational design of integrated immobilized systems that can provide advantages over classical immobilization approaches.


A Lipidated Protein-Based Vaccine is self-adjuvanted; provides broad protection in mice (Dr. Wangxue Chen)

Human Health Therapeutics Research Center (HHT), National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, Canada Current licensed pneumococcal vaccines are effective but provide protection against restricted serotypes. The aim of this study was to develop a new pneumococcal vaccine, based on surface proteins that contrite to bacterial virulence and are common to all serotypes, to improve the vaccine coverage against emerging serotypes and reduce vaccine cost. Using a novel protein lipidation platform, we generated a recombinant lipidated PsaA fusion protein (referred as “rlipo-PsaA”) in E. coli using the native PsaA lipid signal peptide. Mice were immunized intranasally with the vaccine with or without mucosal adjuvant and the immunogenicity and protection efficacy against clinical isolates of different serotypes assessed. Intranasal immunization of mice with the rlipo-PsaA vaccine induced potent antigen-specific immune responses including mucosal IgA and the production of Th1 and Th17 cytokines by the splenocytes. Moreover, the vaccine is self adjuvanted and induced mucosal immunity against co-administered non-lipidated pneumococcal protein antigens which are otherwise non-immunogenic by themselves. More significantly, the vaccine protected mice against intranasal challenge with multiple clinical isolates including serotypes that are not covered by current vaccines in mouse models of invasive pneumococcal disease and nasopharyngeal colonization. The protection is associated with the induction of antigen specific IgG2a and mucosal IgA responses and enhanced serum opsonophagocytic function, and the presence of CD4+ T cells and neutrophils were essential for the vaccine-induced protection. Lipidation of surface pneumococcal protein antigens is a promising approach for the development of safe and effective mucosal universal vaccine for S. pneumoniae infection.


Scalable Methods for Genomics & the McGill Initiative in Computational Medicine (Dr. Guillaume Bourque)

High-throughput technologies, and in particular next-generation sequencing (NGS), have been revolutionizing biomedical research by enabling the characterization of the genetic and epigenetic components of the molecular processes of the cell with unprecedented resolution. Although these developments promise to have a significant impact on life sciences and health care, an immediate challenge is that the current computing infrastructure and techniques to store, process, analyze and share the vast volumes of data generated by these platforms frequently represents a major bottleneck. In this presentation, we will present various components of the scalable high-performance computing environments that we have put in place to support the processing of these large datasets. We will also describe some of the software solutions that we have developed to facilitate large-scale data analysis such as the Genetics and genomics Analysis Platform (GenAP,, which includes open-source data analysis pipelines for whole-genome sequencing, exome sequencing, transcriptome sequencing, metagenomics. We will also present the IHEC Data Portal, which collects data for the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) and can be used to explore more than 10,000 reference epigenomics maps. Finally, we will describe a new initiative in Computational Medicine at McGill.


Biomedical applications of nanophotonic and ultrafast laser (Dr. Michel Meunier)

The growing field of nanophotonics will be introduced with a special emphasis on the physics of plasmonics nanoparticles. These nanoparticles such as gold, silver or their alloys are interesting nanomaterials for their applications in nanomedicine. Ultrafast laser are special tools that can be used to performed specific therapies in medicine. In this presentation, I will present recent developments performed at Polytechnique in the use of plasmonic nanoparticles and ultrafast lasers. A new method for delivering exogenous biomolecules into targeted cells using a femtosecond laser and plasmonic nanoparticles will be presented. The technique of laser nanosurgery has been used to perform gene transfection in living cells, neuron stimulation and delivery of biomolecules in vivo for ophthalmic applications. Alloy plasmonic nanoparticles have been synthesized and used to perform multiplexed 3D imaging of cells and tissues. Our techniques show promises of innovative tools for basic research in biology and medicine as well as effective alternative technologies that could be adapted to the therapeutic and diagnostic tools of the clinic.



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