A sixth year Ph.D. student in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience, at McGill University.
Justin is currently training in Dr. J. Poirier's lab, and his research focuses on genetics and Alzheimer's Disease.
You completed your undergraduate degree at Université de Sherbrooke. What motivated you to pursue your graduate studies in IPN at McGill?
Since McGill University played an important part in the history of neuroscience, I wanted to be a part of this long-lasting tradition of excellence.
What spurred your scientific question, your hypothesis, and eventually, your study?
In the last decade, geneticists have found approximately 20 genetic variants associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). However, recent evidence has shown that these polymorphisms account for a small portion of the genetic variance in AD. Therefore, in order to discover variants that are part of the remaining genetic variance, we compared the genome of control and AD subjects from the Quebec Founder Population (QFP).
What tangible and intangible objectives do you hope to achieve with your research?
Identifying new genetic variants in AD could lead to multiple applications. First of all, by impacting specific genes, these polymorphisms could help in discovering distinct pathways implicated in AD, which could therefore be potential therapeutic targets. Moreover, by combining these new variants with known AD-associated polymorphisms, it could lead to a better identification of subjects with a higher risk of developing AD for clinical trials or for treatment purposes.
Have you received awards/funding during your time in IPN?
I received the Djavad Mowafaghian Studentship, which is a one-year award given to outstanding IPN graduate students. I also received the IPN Star Award, which acknowledges the accomplishment of IPN students who have published first author articles.
What else do you like to work on, aside from your research?
I am a member of the Student Committee at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. I am also the student member on the Board of Directors of the same research center. Moreover, I teach French classes to students in the IPN program.
What do you hope to achieve in the long-term?
In terms of professional achievements, I would like to work in the pharmaceutical industry as a medical science liaison or consultant.
Share a turning point or defining moment in your work as a scientist.
When my first publication as a first author, for which I received excellent comments, was accepted in a high-impact journal, I was delighted that other researchers in my field understood the importance and the quality of my project. Indeed, in my view, a good researcher not only needs to produce rigorous, honest, and innovative work, but they also need to communicate well, so that other people understand their project and its value. Therefore, when my article was accepted, I felt that I had achieved both of the aforementioned objectives.
Talk about a professor or an event at IPN that has markedly changed you.
My supervisor, Dr. Poirier, has been a great mentor to me, because in addition to his impressive academic track record and constant media presence, he is the founder of two biotechnology companies, and an author of multiple books. Therefore, as his trainee, I am continuously learning and benefitting from his academic and business experience.
Thank you Justin, and good luck with your studies!
Published on March 5, 2019
If you are an IPN student or Principal Investigator, and would like to be featured as part of the new #IamIPN narrative series, please e-mail Dhabisha Kohilanathan at projects.ipn [at] mcgill.ca.