McGill scientists garner three of the magazine's top 10 discoveries for 2009
Scientists from McGill University, the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute earn top marks in Québec Science's Top Ten Discoveries of 2009 for their stellar work.
Published in the magazine's February issue, the prestigious annual ranking honours projects in: epigenetics from researchers at the Douglas and McGill's Faculty of Medicine, a new treatment for multiple sclerosis from the Faculty of Medicine and Lady Davis Institute, and fibre-optic light transmission in telecommunications from McGill's Department of Chemistry. Readers of the magazine are invited to vote by February 26 for the top discovery of 2009 at www.cybersciences.com
Neuroscience breakthrough links childhood trauma and life-long effect on genes and the brain
McGill University and Douglas Institute scientists have discovered that childhood trauma can actually alter your DNA and shape the way your genes work. The team's research confirms in humans earlier findings in rats, that maternal care plays a significant role in influencing the genes that control our stress response. Moshe Szyf, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics; Gustavo Turecki, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry who practices at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute; Michael Meaney, a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology and Neurosurgery, who is also at the Douglas; and McGill postdoctoral research fellow Patrick McGowan have built on their world-renowned epigenetics work to uncover how parental care affected the DNA in the brains of a group of Quebec male suicide victims who suffered abuse as children.
Medical team successfully reverses multiple sclerosis in animals
A new experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) completely reverses the devastating autoimmune disorder in mice, and might work exactly the same way in humans, according to the breakthrough work by led by Dr. Jacques Galipeau and researchers at the Jewish General Hospital Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University. The new treatment, appropriately named GIFT15, puts MS into remission by suppressing the immune response and may also be effective against other autoimmune disorders like Crohn's disease, lupus and arthritis, and could theoretically also control immune responses in organ transplant patients. Moreover, unlike earlier immune-suppressing therapies which rely on chemical pharmaceuticals, this approach is a personalized form of cellular therapy which utilizes the body's own cells to suppress immunity in a much more targeted way.
Researchers squeeze light out of quantum dots
Professor Patanjali (Pat) Kambhampati and colleagues Ryan Cooney, D.M. Sagar and Sam Sewall, at McGill's Department of Chemistry, have successfully amplified light with so-called "colloidal quantum dots," a technology that had been written off by many as a dead-end. Over the last 15 years, repeated quantum dot research efforts failed to deliver on expected improvements in amplification, and many researchers started to believe that an unknown but insurmountable law of physics was blocking their path. But, as Prof. Kambhampati's team determined, the earlier disappointments were due to accidental roadblocks and colloidal quantum dots do indeed amplify light. They can actually be painted directly on to surfaces. The breakthrough may forward leaps in lasers, telecom and optical computing.
About McGill University
McGill University, founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, is Canada's leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 33,000 students. McGill attracts students from more than 160 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English - including 6,000 francophones - with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.
About the Douglas
The Douglas is a world-class institute, affiliated with McGill University and World Health Organization, which treats people suffering from mental illness, and offers them hope and cures. Its teams of specialists and researchers continually advance scientific knowledge, integrate it into patient care, and share it with the community to increase awareness and thus eliminating stigma around mental illness. www.douglas.qc.ca
About the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at
the Jewish General Hospital
The Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI), located in Montreal, Quebec, is the research arm at the Jewish General Hospital, and has strong academic ties to McGill University. With over 150 affiliated researchers, the LDI is one of the largest and most important biomedical research institutes in Quebec and all of Canada. Major breakthroughs have been made by LDI researchers in the areas of HIV/ AIDS, aging, cancer, vascular disease, epidemiology and psychosocial science, and have thereby contributed to the health and well-being of millions of patients in Montreal, across Quebec and around the world.