It recently became public knowledge that following the accreditation survey of McGill’s undergraduate medical education program, it will be placed on probation for a 2-year period of time, at which point (2017) the program’s status will be re-evaluated.
A predictable flurry of questions from friends and peers ensued: what did this mean? Was I concerned? Did I regret my choice to come to McGill?
I took a few moments to reflect on this. My selection of McGill was very intentional given that as an out-of-province student, the standards I had to meet to gain acceptance were particularly onerous. Following my undergraduate degree, I took four years to explore my interests and passions, including a year spent as president of my undergraduate students’ union and three years in university senior administration.
In this role, my primary responsibility was to drive the implementation of certain aspects of the newly installed President’s strategic plan. It was exhilarating work: his ideas were far-reaching and inspiring. However, the implementation was slow and rife with challenges. Throughout the three-year process, though, I began to appreciate that truly meaningful changes take time and effort. The fact that I felt like I was a part of this transformation was exceptionally satisfying. It solidified my eventual choice of McGill, which had just finished the first year of implementing its new curriculum.
I knew exactly what this kind of change would entail: setbacks, hard work and patience. But I believed in the patient- and student-centred values of the new curriculum, and a year into my studies, I feel even more strongly about this. McGill Medicine is in a time of transition. In addition to our new curriculum, we have recently relocated our major teaching site to the Glen, seen a number of personnel changes, and confronted multiple cutbacks in the Quebec healthcare system.
As students, we can feel the plates shifting beneath us, and once in a while, we notice a few cracks. These are the cracks that accreditation picked up on: areas where there is a need for improvement, more prudence, or even a rethinking of processes. There is work to be done. But we already knew that: since the first day of class, we have been involved in actively providing feedback and helping shape McGill Medicine for our successors and ourselves.
Since the Dean announced the probationary status of this program, I, as class president have had several students contact me, eager to do more, recognizing the important role we will play in the future of our Faculty. There is an opportunity to reimagine the way things are done, and students are critical cogs in the wheel of change.
While I don’t purport to have had any premonitions about the future of accreditation, in choosing McGill I accepted the snags and irritations associated with pursuing genuine, innovative change for the opportunity of something better. In my one year of studies, I have gone from a humanities-based student to a physician-in-training, able to generate a differential diagnosis for a diverse range of presentations; I have learned to appraise scientific literature and generate my own conclusions; I have dissected a human body and understood both the scientific and moral significance of my work; I have interacted with many patients, including one with only days to live, and been present and empathetic to their conditions.
Ultimately, I have initiated my journey as both clinician and healer.
I still feel immensely privileged to be in medical school at one of the top institutions in Canada, which, despite its deep roots, has not shied away from the opportunity to reinvent what medical education should look like in the 21st century. Judging from the reactions of my classmates, I think it’s safe to say we are looking forward to 2017.
Mary Koziol is a first-year medical student.
The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted on aging, has reached its goal of 50,000 participants. This national undertaking aims to find ways to improve the health of Canadians by better understanding the processes and dimensions of aging.
Over the five past years, CLSA research teams from McMaster, Dalhousie, and McGill Universities and key players in Quebec including the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), and the Research Centre on Aging and Health of the Université de Sherbrooke, have implemented the study, collected data, and have now completed recruitment. The announcement was made earlier this week in Hamilton by the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, and David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster–Dundas–Flamborough–Westdale. Minister Leitch and MP Sweet congratulated the research team on reaching their ambitious recruitment goal and thanked the participants from across the country for agreeing to take part in this important research project.
“I am proud of this achievement, which is due to the dedication of the research team and their decade and more of planning, and to the very generous participation of 50,000 people from across Canada who agreed to be part of the study. The CLSA is now ready to provide a unique resource for researchers and policy makers enabling research that was not possible in the past,” says CLSA co-principal investigator, Dr. Christina Wolfson, researcher at the RI-MUHC and professor at McGill’s Departments of Medicine and Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health.
More than 160 researchers from 26 Canadian universities with expertise in biology, genetics, clinical research, social sciences, economics, epidemiology and population health are involved in the CLSA. Moreover, the CLSA includes 11 data collection sites, one of which is located at the RI-MUHC. In addition, the RI MUHC houses the CLSA Statistical Analysis Centre where Dr. Wolfson’s team is responsible for examining the quality and reliability of the data and prepares the data for release to researchers.
Launched in 2010, the CLSA is following participants from all 10 provinces, aged 45 to 85 at recruitment, to collect a wide range of information about the changing biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle and economic aspects of peoples’ lives. They will be revisited once every three years for 20 years to carry out complete data collection, and contacted at regular intervals to maintain contact and engagement with the study. All the participants have now completed baseline assessments through telephone interviews or through face-to-face interviews, followed by visits to specially designed data collection sites.
The study is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) strategic initiative. It was launched through grants from the Government of Canada through CIHR and the infrastructure is supported by an award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, as well as funding from several provinces, universities and other partners.
On July 7, discover McGill’s award-winning Edible Campus garden – a fertile oasis surrounding Burnside Hall that has supplied Montrealers with limited mobility with thousands of kilograms of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs since its inception in 2007. The bilingual tour will run from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on July 7, and will be led by Vikram Bhatt, Director of Edible Campus. People should meet at the front steps of the Redpath Museum. The tour is free for everyone but people should call 514-398-4094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations. Read an interview with Vikram Bhatt about the Edible Campus project.
800 Canadians help create Canada’s Self Portrait
By Neale McDevitt
Aquil Virani is celebrating Canada Day by unveiling his unique artwork, Canada’s Self Portrait, at Gallerie Mile End today at 5 p.m. And although he is the artist who created the six-foot-by-three-foot pen and ink piece, he couldn’t have done it without the help of some 800 or so friends from across the country.
Canada’s Self Portrait is the end result of a year-long odyssey undertaken by Virani and Rebecca Jones, a pair of McGill alums who were looking to explore the ever-elusive Canadian identity.
The multi-media project involved a coast-to-coast train journey gathering submissions from the general public of all 13 provinces and territories. People were asked to fill out a short questionnaire (“Describe Canada in one word,” etc.) and include a small sketch that represents Canada. The response was phenomenal.
“We received over 800 submissions from kids as young as three years old to someone who was 86,” says Virani. “It was incredible to see how enthusiastic people were to be a part of something we felt so strongly about.”
Virani’s job was to create a unified artwork using each submission – and make no mistake, every single submission has been incorporated into the finished piece.
“Part of the concept is that we are all artists and everyone’s opinion counts,” says Virani, an artist and graphic designer who graduated from McGill with a BA in philosophy and marketing. “It is about Canadian identity, so things like civic liberty, voting, participating in democracy are important. Every vote, every voice counts.
“I have redrawn every one in my style – although I have tried to make it so people can recognize their own drawing,” says Virani. “My task was to bring together a very diverse collection of drawings so that they look like one unified voice.”
Using a black ballpoint pen (“Not much different than ones people use every day”), Virani worked on 10-inch x 10-inch panels of birch wood that would be put together to create the final product.
“I also used some red – very Canadian colour,” says Virani. “We collected water from St John’s, Newfoundland and Victoria, B.C. and used it to mix with the paint – a coast-to-coast artistic gesture.”
In compiling the answers to the short questionnaire, Virani and Jones saw a number of themes emerge. Top on the list was freedom, followed closely by multiculturalism. “Those themes aren’t surprising when you realize that a quarter of the people who participated in this project were not born in Canada,” says Virnani, whose parents were both born overseas. “A lot of immigrants come from countries without the same human rights as we have here – so of course freedom and multiculturalism will be real keystones to the Canadian identity. It helped me recognize the extent of the privileges we enjoy.
“Canada is such a huge country with so many different perspectives and I think this piece, in all its intricacy and detail, has succeeded in expressing the paradox of Canadian identity.”
The Canada’s Self Portrait vernissage will take place today, July 1, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Galerie Mile-End (5345 Park Avenue). A documentary on the project will be screened at 5:30 p.m. The artwork will also be on display tomorrow, July 2.
By McGill Reporter Staff
In a bid to boost Montreal’s reputation as a major centre devoted to knowledge and creativity, the City of Montreal announced Sunday it will provide $600,000 over the next three years to the Société du Quartier de l’innovation de Montréal, while the Quebec government is kicking in an additional $200,000 in 2015-16.
McGill, a major participant in the project, was delighted with the news, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Rosie Goldstein said at the event announcing the financial contributions.
“The Quartier de l’innovation will make Montreal known as one of the major cities dedicated to knowledge and creativity,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre in a statement.
The development, largely located in the South West district south and southwest of downtown Montreal, has already brought change to the once working-class Irish neighborhood that had evolved in recent decades into a somewhat desolate industrial area.
QI, a project in which McGill and the École Technique Supérieur (ETS) are joining to encourage opportunities for business and technology startups, research hubs and neighborhood development and urban planning projects involving culture and the arts, was launched in 2013. Concordia University joined the project in January 2015. QI is modeled on a number of similar, but different development districts in cities around the world, including Boston, Barcelona, New York and London.
“For the past few years, we have worked very hard with our partner ETS to mobilize the community and make the Quartier a real showcase of innovation for Montreal,” Goldstein said, thanking Coderre and Robert Poëti, Quebec’s Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the region of Montreal, for their contributions.
“McGill has a proud history of collaboration, we are committed to encouraging innovation and fostering entrepreneurship on campuses and in our community. Since beginning our engagement with QI, we have more than 20 initiatives led by our professors and students in this district. These projects are not only related to the technological sector, they are also linked to social, cultural and urban planning needs.”
“Our goal is to work with the social sector, the cultural and entrepreneurship sectors to represent all the strengths of this area and to do something concrete,” QI Executive Director Damien Siles told CTV News.
“The QI is a unique initiative with strong impact as it offers students, researchers and professors opportunities to explore solutions to expressed-needs, with the goal of improving the quality of life for the community,” Goldstein said.
By Chris Chipello
New research released on June 29 in Nature Neuroscience reveals for the first time that pain is processed in male and female mice using different cells. These findings have far-reaching implications for our basic understanding of pain, how we develop the next generation of medications for chronic pain — which is by far the most prevalent human health condition — and the way we execute basic biomedical research using mice.
“Research has demonstrated that men and women have different sensitivity to pain and that more women suffer from chronic pain than men, but the assumption has always been that the wiring of how pain is processed is the same in both sexes,” said co-senior author Jeffrey Mogil. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies at McGill and Director of the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain. “The realization that the biological basis for pain between men and women could be so fundamentally different raises important research and ethical questions if we want to reduce suffering.”
The research was conducted by teams from McGill, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), and Duke University, and looked at the longstanding theory that pain is transmitted from the site of injury or inflammation through the nervous system using an immune system cell called microglia. This new research shows that this is only true in male mice. Interfering with the function of microglia in a variety of different ways effectively blocked pain in male mice, but had no effect in female mice.
Better targeted medication
According to the researchers, a completely different type of immune cell, called T cells, appears to be responsible for sounding the pain alarm in female mice. However, exactly how this happens remains unknown.
“Understanding the pathways of pain and sex differences is absolutely essential as we design the next generation of more sophisticated, targeted pain medications,” said Michael Salter, M.D., Ph.D., Head and Senior Scientist, Neuroscience & Mental Health at SickKids and Professor at The University of Toronto, the other co‑senior author. “We believe that mice have very similar nervous systems to humans, especially for a basic evolutionary function like pain, so these findings tell us there are important questions raised for human pain drug development.”
Including female mice
The discovery comes as there is increased attention to the inclusion of female animals and cells in preclinical research. The U.S. National Institutes of Health recently unveiled a new policy, similar to one already in force in Canada, to require the use of female animals and cell lines in preclinical research.
“For the past 15 years scientists have thought that microglia controlled the volume knob on pain, but this conclusion was based on research using almost exclusively male mice,” said Mogil. “This finding is a perfect example of why this policy, and very carefully designed research, is essential if the benefits of basic science are to serve everyone.”
Repairs have begun to the iconic portico at the front entrance to the Arts Building.
Scaffolding was erected Thursday, June 25, for a project expected to take between 3-5 months at a cost of approximately $500,000. The portico has been supported by jacks for several months after inspections revealed cracks in the masonry had been growing larger and required attention.
A screen depicting the portico had been put in place to give the appearance, at least from a distance, of the real thing.
Dating from 1843, the Arts Building is the oldest building on campus, was designed in the Palladium Revival style of architecture, and was originally supposed to have a two-storey portico in front. An artist’s conception of this can be seen on a sign in front of the building explaining the need for the portico repair project.
Because the larger, fancier portico was considered too expensive (just as the main and east wings of the building were nearing completion in 1843, the institution was running out of money), a temporary wooden structure was erected in 1860 and remained in place until 1926, when the current masonry version was constructed.
In the early 2000s, the McGill News produced a feature on “the campus that never was” and included this information about the Arts Building and its portico:
“The University architect was John Ostell, who designed the central and east wings of the current Arts Building. He also designed the original campus layout, with a number of ornamental and kitchen gardens and the central lane. [Architecture Professor] Derek Drummond says that it was Ostell’s idea to keep the campus open to the city.
“Financial constraints had an effect on the initial construction. A third floor was added to the central and east wings, while the west wing would not be built until the 1860s. The famous cupola was added to the plans mid-construction, while the halls connecting the central and east wings would have to wait for wealthier days.
“In Ostell’s original plans, the portico was to be two storeys tall, supported by Doric columns, with a small patio on the second floor leading to the library on that floor. Cost killed the idea – when the building was completed in 1843, the portico was a temporary wooden structure.”
Both the main Arts Building and its east wing (Dawson Hall) were damaged in the early 1850s, when blasting for the new Montreal reservoir across from the rear of the buildings on what is now Dr. Penfield Ave. affected the foundations of both buildings as well as their roofs. The buildings were then abandoned for a time and classes were held elsewhere, according to MacKay L. Smith’s book, Memories and Profiles of McGill University.
On June 26-27, McGill will host the Digital Literacy for Preschoolers Conference, focusing on how adults use eBooks for shared reading with children and whether children learn language and reading skills when using digital devices. In recent years the number of young children using mobile devices has doubled and the amount of time that young children spend with these devices has tripled. Parents and teachers have many questions about when, if and how best to use digital media with children.
At the conference, new research in this emerging field will help answer questions about the best use of digital media at home and school. There will be scientific presentations from leading researchers on the first day and round table discussions among diverse participants on the second day. In advance of the conference, the McGill reporter spoke to Susan Rvachew, a speech pathologist and a professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, about the benefits of eBooks as a teaching tool.
Parents hear it all the time. Too much screen time – be it in front of the television, a computer or a video game monitor – will rot your child’s brain. The headlines warn us about the evils of screens; blaming them for everything from obesity, insomnia and social difficulties, to increased levels of depression, anxiety and learning difficulties among our children.
But Susan Rvachew, a speech pathologist and a professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, says not all screen-based technologies are created equal. Some, she says, can be a boon to a child’s reading and language development.
“There is a ton of potential in tablets and the best eBooks for children are wonderful teaching tools,” says Rvachew. “But in order for them to be really effective, they have to be well designed and they should involve active participation of a parent or other adult that goes beyond just reading words on the screen.”
Unlike traditional story time in which the adult reads while the child listens, good quality eBooks demand active engagement from everyone involved. Pages should include items such as animations that support the story and pull a child into the story as an active participant, prompts that cue adults when to ask specific questions and various touch-screen buttons that will help a child link the words on the screen to the actual story.
In particular, the latter is useful in helping children learn how to read. “One thing we know about children and print books is that until they are taught how to read they completely ignore the words on the page,” says Rvachew. “They may memorize the story and how it relates to the picture, but not the printed word… One of the advantages of a well-constructed eBook is that helps children notice the words and learn the relationship between the printed word and story.”
Rvachew says that the best eBooks can draw a child into a story very effectively because that child is actively engaged, clicking buttons, activating related animations and answering questions. The quality of this engagement makes for a profound learning opportunity.
Learning their ABCs by rote has its place in the classroom, says Rvachew, but those early lessons have a deeper impact when the child is pushed beyond basic memorization. “It is always better to have books that have a story a child can relate to,” she says. “Meaningful learning sticks with us forever.”
Rvachew wants to ease parents’ apprehension regarding eBooks by saying comparing them to computer games and television shows is an apples and oranges proposition. While many parents complain that screens are turning their children into antisocial zombies, eBooks on tablets can have the opposite effect because, above all else, they demand interaction. “In one of our studies we asked community volunteers to read print books and eBooks to kindergarten children. We heard more discussions, more give and take between adult and child when reading the eBook than with the print books,” she says, “eBooks can lead to more teaching and learning opportunities when they are designed well and the adult is actively engaged with the child.”
Rvachew laughs that adults sometimes have problems giving up control of an eBook when the child wants to click a button. “We’re used to the traditional top-down structure where the adult reads and the children sit quietly and listen. The adult has all the power,” she says. “But that doesn’t really work with eBooks because they have animations and things to click. The child thinks they are toys, the parent thinks they are books. Sometimes they get into little arguments over who is supposed to control it.”
But a lot of bells and whistles is not necessarily a great thing. “Animations are great, but they can be distracting,” she says. “Every aspect of an eBook should support the story, not distract from it.”
And before parents (and printers) begin to flood Rvachew’s In Box with angry emails, they should know that she is not advocating replacing print books with eBooks. Both, she says, can live in complimentary harmony.
“There should always be a place for reading print books to your children,” she says. “There are less distractions in print books and bedtime readings are really wonderful moments between parent and child. Because eBooks are so engaging, they don’t necessarily have that same calming effect that print books have.
“In the end, any opportunity an adult has to share quality time with their child is beneficial for everyone.”
We know that an extra bedroom, and a metro station nearby will make your house more valuable. Now it turns out that a bike-sharing station nearby will do the same.
Researchers at McGill studied house sales in central Montreal before and after the Bixi bike sharing system was launched in Montreal in 2009. They found that a typical home in the central Montreal area they studied had about 12 Bixi stations nearby, which had increased its value by 2.7 per cent – or $8,650 on average.
The team arrived at these conclusions by looking at the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) database of all home sales in most of the island of Montreal from 1996 to 2012. They focussed on 2400 units that were sold more than once during this period, in order to study the increase in values. Once they had filtered out other factors they found that each bike-sharing station in the neighbourhood lead to a $700 increase in property values for the nearby houses.
“Bixi has been under attack a lot, but the system has had some positive effects,” says Ahmed El-Geneidy, lead author and Associate Professor at McGill School of Urban Planning. “It favours environmentally friendly and healthy habits and now we know it has significantly increased the value of homes in Montreal. This data shows people here value bicycle sharing.”
What mayors should know
It is likely that other cities with similar bike sharing systems, like New York, Toronto, or Paris, will see similar effects on housing prices. “We expect studies on other cities will also find a positive impact on house sales,” El-Geneidy says.
“Cities that are considering the implementation or expansion of bicycle share systems must keep in mind that although they require a major investment at the beginning, the combined benefits from such systems, including an increase in property taxes, might well outweigh the initial costs.”
The amount of the increase in property value would probably vary from one city to another. “It depends on how much people in a particular city value cycling,” El-Geneidy explains. The quality of the system may also play a role. “Because it was built to showcase the Bixi model and export it, the network in Montreal is very good. Stations are well spread both downtown and in residential neighbourhoods where many cyclists live, such as Le Plateau.”
A young mother reading a bedtime story to her son suddenly is unable to decipher the letters on the page. A middle-aged man at a restaurant has difficulty using his fork because his right arm has become very weak. An elderly woman looses her balance and then has trouble communicating how she feels to the Good Samaritan who helps her up. A toddler suddenly begins to drool and has difficulty swallowing.
All these people, even the toddler, are displaying stroke symptoms. And for each of them, getting immediate medical assistance could mean the difference between a full recovery, severe disability and even death.
“Canadians, paramedics, emergency department staff and other medical professionals all play a vital role in early stroke management,” said Dr. Michael Hill, Director of the Stroke Unit, Calgary Stroke Program, and Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson at the release of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Stroke Report 2015 earlier this month. “Rapid treatment is life- and disability-saving. Speed requires teamwork. How quickly and how well everyone works together within the stroke system of care can dramatically influence stroke patients’ outcomes.”
Thanks to ultra-specialized stroke centres at two McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) hospitals, people who have had a stroke are being assessed and treated at the right place, at the right time and by the right professionals.
Both the Montreal General Hospital (MGH) and the Montreal Neurological Hospital, (The Neuro), have recently earned new accreditation. The MGH was designated a secondary stroke centre and The Neuro a tertiary stroke centre. The accreditations were granted by the provincial government after a successful reorganization of services that has optimized speed and quality of care for stroke patients.
“The MUHC is the only medical institution in Quebec to have a tertiary and a secondary stroke centre,” said Neurologist Dr. Robert Côté, Medical Director of the MUHC Stroke Program. “Both units are ultra-specialized and provide rapid assessment, diagnostics and treatment for any type of stroke intervention. The only difference between them is that The Neuro has interventional neuroradiology, a procedure used to retrieve clots inside the arteries.”
The transformation of services is part of a stroke strategy put in place by the Ministry of Health in 2013 to improve stroke prevention and healthcare services offered to the more than 12,000 Quebeckers who experience a stroke every year. For every one of them, time is of essence.
“Time is brain,” said Dr. Côté. “For every minute a stroke is left untreated, 2 million brain cells are destroyed. So, the sooner we treat patients the higher the chances of survival with fewer disabilities. That’s better for patients and their families, of course, but it’s also cost effective.”
Specialized receiving area for stroke patients
Wanting to improve efficiency, The Neuro has opened a highly specialized Receiving Area (RA) inside its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for incoming stroke patients.
When ambulance technicians respond to a call with someone displaying stroke symptoms, they assess the patient according to the Cincinnati scale. A positive Cincinnati rating considers symptoms such as slurred speech, facial droop and arm drift. Urgences Santé then alerts the RA staff through a direct line.
“Even though a patient has signs of stroke, it doesn’t necessarily mean a stroke,” says Siva Moonsamy, Managing Nurse at The Neuro’s ICU. “So within 15 to 30 minutes of a patient’s arrival to the RA, a neurological examination, CT scan and other tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis and a rapid course of treatment.”
A neuro intensivist and ICU nurses cover the unit 24 hours 7 days per week ensuring that emergency stroke patients are cared for expertly and without delay. On average, the RA admits about four patients a day.
To treat and educate
For the past year, the MUHC Stroke Prevention Clinic (SPC) located at the MGH has been offering enhanced acute evaluation services to patients with a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
“A TIA produces similar symptoms to those of a stroke such as sudden weakness on one side of the body, face droopiness or difficulties finding words, said Heather Perkins, nurse clinician in the Stroke Prevention Clinic. “It usually lasts only a few minutes and often causes no permanent damage, but should be taken seriously, because these patients are at higher risk of having a stroke.”
The clinic has the same access to radiology and ultrasound equipment as the Emergency Department so that all exams can be done as soon as is needed. It also follows up on patients recovering from a stroke and quickly refers them to rehab specialists.
Along with the new services, the clinic pursues its main vocation: to educate healthcare workers and patients about TIAs and strokes. As Dr. Côté explained, “The Stroke Prevention Clinic is extremely important. We can treat patients for acute stroke and send them to rehabilitation, but we don’t want them to come back with another stroke.”
Recognition of stroke symptoms and calling 9-1-1 will determine how quickly someone will receive help and treatment. Getting to a hospital rapidly will more likely lead to a better recovery.
Stroke symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke.
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
- More than 12,000 Quebecois experience a stroke every year.
- Every year, 14,000 Canadians die of strokes, making it the third-leading cause of death in the nation.
- About 80 per cent of strokes are ischemic, caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain due to a blood clot.
- About 20 per cent of strokes are hemorrhagic, caused by uncontrolled bleeding in the brain.
- Each year, over 14,000 Canadians die from stroke, making it the third leading cause of death in Canada.
- Each year, more women than men die from stroke.
- There are estimated 50,000 strokes in Canada each year, or one stroke every 10 minutes.
- Each year 200 to 300 Canadian children will experience a perinatal stroke.
- About 315,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.
- Stroke costs the Canadian economy $3.6 billion a year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages, and decreased productivity.
- Every year, patients with stroke spend more than 639,000 days in acute care in Canadian hospitals and 4.5 million days in residential care facilities.
- After age 55, the risk of stroke doubles every 10 years.
- A stroke survivor has a 20 per cent chance of having another stroke within two years.
A stroke occurs when the natural blood flow to the brain is disrupted. An ischemic stroke occurs when there is an interruption in blood flow. Ischemic strokes are by far the most common stroke. There are also hemorrhagic strokes, caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) signify a high risk for stroke and need immediate attention. Someone who has had a TIA should be seen the same day for assessment and treatment.
Disrupted blood flow can cause brain damage, the extent of which depends on the brain region affected and for how long. For this reason, it is essential that a stroke victim seek medical treatment as soon as possible. If a victim can reach a hospital within three or four hours, doctors can administer drugs in cases of ischemic stroke, to limit significantly the extent of any potential brain damage.
The effects of stroke can be minor, in which case a victim can expect full recovery. But major effects of stroke can leave victims unable to speak, read or write, remember, or move normally.
People should be aware of the main warning signs of stroke: weakness, speech or vision problems, severe headaches, and disequilibrium. If these symptoms occur, people should see a physician immediately. The greatest risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure (hypertension), which affects one out of five Canadians.
By McGill Reporter Staff
They marched, they cheered, they partied.
Under the piercing blue sky of a perfect summer day, thousands and thousands of Montrealers walked three kilometres from Dawson College to the new MUHC Glen site on Saturday to join in the ribbon-cutting for the new, state-of-the-art hospital.
Led by pipes and drums and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, the blocks-long procession made its way along Sherbrooke St. before turning south on Décarie Blvd. to march under the new railway overpass and onto the sprawling site which is the new home of the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Cedars Cancer Centre, some functions from the Montreal General Hospital, the Montreal Children’s Hospital, the Shriner’s Hospital and the Montreal Chest Institute. The MUHC Research Centre is also present on the site.
McGill Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier and David Eidelman, Dean of Medicine and Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) led a McGill contingent of more than 100. MUHC President Norman Rinfret led a huge contingent from the Health Centre. Other notables in the crowd included former Montreal Canadiens Réjean Houle, Yvan Cournoyer, and Sergio Momesso, along with Habs physician Dr. David Mulder of the MUHC.
There were also teams of marchers from the corporate world and Concordia University, as well as several community organizations.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and speeches, which included remarks from Governor-General David Johnson, provincial Health Minister Gaetan Barette and Principal Fortier, musical performances from the Sam Roberts Band and Stéphanie Lapointe kept the crowd hopping.
“What a great day! My heartfelt congratulations to the MUHC on the spectacular inaugural events at the Glen site this weekend,” said Eidelman in an interview with The Reporter. “This is history in the making, and we are proud to have had the opportunity to celebrate it with our MUHC colleagues and volunteers, and our extended McGill-MUHC family that is the Montreal community.”
The party continued on into Sunday, with performances from Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, pianist Oliver Jones and jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky; a community festival; a ball hockey tournament; arts and crafts stations and a reptile zoo.
By McGill Reporter Staff
Michel L. Tremblay, a James McGill Professor and Director of the Goodman Cancer Research Centre, has been named a Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre National du Québec, along with his namesake, playwright Michel Tremblay, who was promoted to Grand Officer of the Order.
A world-renowned cancer researcher, Prof. Tremblay’s laboratory focuses its work on characterizing the function and regulation of several members of the Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase (PTP) gene family. He has more than 10 patents filed and more than 140 publications in the field of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases and is a recognized figure internationally on this gene family and their function in cancer, diabetes and neuroscience.
Based on his expertise, he served on several boards of biotech/pharma industry companies, two of which he initiated the foundation, and he continues to pursue various research projects in partnership with the private sector. He served as the first coordinator of the Quebec Node of the Terry Fox Research Institute and was member of the Scientific Committee of the Québec Consortium for Drug Discovery.
Other honours Prof. Tremblay has received include being named an FRSQ chercheur national; as the Jeanne and J.–Louis Lévesque Chair in Cancer Research and as a Fellow to the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada.
Prof. Tremblay recently undertook several new assignments, such as; being the secretary general of the International Society of Pathophysiology, and a member of the Advisory Committee on Research for the Canadian Cancer Society.
In addition to Prof. Tremblay, three McGill alumni were named in the annual Quebec honours list. They are: Diane Chênevert, BA’82 (Knight), Joanne Liu, MDCM’91, MMgmt’14 (Officer), and Jean-Louis Roy, PhD’72 (Officer).
By Meaghan Thurston
McGill will receive over $27 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for a wide range of long-term research projects, including studies on the texture of foods and biomaterials; holographic approaches to black holes; the treatment of malaria; and research into the role of sleep in the intellectual development of children.
The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced today the results of the 2015 competition for NSERC’s Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, Discovery Development Grants, Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships, Postgraduate Scholarships, Postdoctoral Fellowships and Research Tools and Instruments Grants at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Across Canada, the government will invest more than $340 million in support of over 3,800 researchers and students.
McGill ranked first among all Quebec universities, and rose to third place among all Canadian universities from fourth in 2014, in terms of total research funding granted in this competition. Seventy-one per cent of all McGill applications were successful in this round, a six-point lead on the national success-rate average.
“Time and again, the quality of our researchers and students and their dedication to pushing forward pioneering ideas are rewarded by NSERC’s Discovery Grants Program,” said Dr. Rosie Goldstein, Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations). “With these significant federal investments, McGill is poised to contribute to scientific discovery and progress in a wide range of disciplines – from studies in DNA to studies in learning and memory performance, and from drug discovery to food security.”
The Honourable Ed Holder said of today’s investment that, “a key pillar of our government’s updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy is ensuring Canada develops, attracts and retains the world’s most talented researchers. Today’s investment in more than 3,800 researchers at 71 universities across the country ensures Canada has a broad base of talented men and women whose research continues to push the boundaries of knowledge, creates jobs and opportunities while improving the quality of life of Canadians.”
Through these grants, over 120 McGill researchers will receive significant funds to support the costs of ongoing programs of research with long-term goals. Recipients include some of the University’s most senior researchers, as well as new faculty members.
The Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships and the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships and Postdoctoral Fellowships, which provide financial support to high calibre scholars engaged in a doctoral program in the natural sciences or engineering, were also announced today. Ninety McGill postgraduate and graduate students will share in a $77.8 million federal research funding pool.
Nine McGill researchers were selected for supplemental funding (valued at $120,000 over three years) in addition to a Discovery Grant. These additional resources are intended to accelerate progress and maximize the impact of these outstanding research programs. The successful researchers include:
Professor Ehab Abouheif, Department of Biology: Eco-Evo-Devo and the origin of novelty in complex biological systems.
Professor Jan Adamowski, Department of Bioresource Engineering: Novel Approaches in Statistical Analysis and Coupled Social-Physical Systems Modeling for Integrated and Adaptive Water Resources Management in the Face of Increasing Uncertainty.
Professor Louis Collins, Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Biomedical Engineering: Framework for multi-feature registration of medical images.
Professor Julie Coté, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education: Biomechanical Modeling of Posture and Movement Coordination: Fatigue, Gender and Aging effects.
Professor David Frost, Department of Mechanical Engineering: Fundamentals of Metal Particle Combustion for Energy and Loss Prevention Applications.
Professor Irene Gregory-Eaves, Department of Biology: Community and ecosystem dynamics of north temperate shallow lakes during the Anthropocene.
Professor Stephen McAdams, Department of Music Research: Perception and cognition of musical timbre.
Professor Gantumur Tsogtgerel, Department of Mathematics and Statistics: Analysis of advanced discretizations of partial differential equations
Professor Jérôme Waldispühl, School of Computer Science: Computational methods and integrative approaches to predict 3D structures of large RNA molecules.
New MUHC research warns DINCH plasticizer may need further safety evaluationBy MUHC Public Affairs
A commonly used plasticizer known as DINCH, which is found in products that come into close contact with humans, such as medical devices, children’s toys and food packaging, might not be as safe as initially thought. According to a new study from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, DINCH exerts biological effects on metabolic processes in mammals. The findings, published in the journal Environmental Research, may have important implications since DINCH has been promoted by industry has as a safe alternative to phthalate plasticizers, despite there being no publicly available peer-reviewed data on its toxicology.
“This is the first study to show a biological disruptive effect of the plasticizer DINCH and its metabolites on the metabolism in mammals,” states study lead author, Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, who is a researcher in the Experimental Therapeutics and Metabolism Program of the RI-MUHC and a professor of Medicine at McGill University. “These findings show that DINCH might not be as safe as it has been promoted and there is a real need for more research on the safety and the use of this widely used product.’’
Health concerns about plasticizers have been the subject of considerable scientific, legal and media debate in recent years. Some phthalates – which are among the best-known plasticizers – have been restricted or banned in children’s products across North America and in many countries in Europe, during the last 10 years, because of their effects on reproductive health. DINCH (1,2-cyclohexanedicarboxylic acid, diisononyl ester) has been used as an alternative and is approved and certified by many authorities and institutions worldwide; however, until now there have been no peer-reviewed research publications on its safety and potential metabolic and endocrine-disrupting properties.
The research team at the RI-MUHC, which has been working on phthalates for years, decided to evaluate the effects of DINCH and two of its major metabolites (CHDA and MINCH) with in-vitro experiments on the adipose tissue of rats. In fact, the researchers initially used DINCH as a control, since it was believed to be safe, but found that it was working in the same way as the phthalates. The action of DINCH was found to be particularly similar to a type of phthalate known as DEHP, a group of chemicals whose use in Canada and the US was restricted to small amounts in all children’s products 2011, at the same time as the EU began phasing out their use.
The study shows that DINCH’s metabolite (MINCH) acts as a metabolic disrupter by affecting adipose tissue differentiation, in other words how fat is made in the body. They also found that, similar to phthalates, the effect of MINCH was mediated by a receptor involved in both the metabolic and endocrine systems, which allowed the researchers to infer that MINCH could interfere with the endocrine system in mammals.
“We were surprised by these findings since DINCH was supposed to be a trusted plasticizer devoid of phthalate effects,” says Dr. Papadopoulos. “The fact that MINCH can affect metabolism, which is a major regulator system of our body, is concerning.”
“It is currently difficult to assess whether DINCH exposure represents a risk to human health, but specific populations such as occupational workers could be at risk if the level of DINCH reaches environmental levels as high as the banned phthalate DEHP, ” adds Dr. Papadopoulos.
According to the researchers, considering the continuous exposure of humans to plastics throughout life and the fact that there are periods in life when humans are more sensitive to exposures (such has early development), the effects of this plasticizer should be evaluated more thoroughly.
L’infolettre mensuelle McGill dans la ville présente des projets d’engagement communautaire, des collaborations avec des entreprises ou des organismes locaux, des rencontres avec des experts de McGill, des événements à ne pas manquer ou d’autres renseignements susceptibles d’intéresser la communauté montréalaise.
Le boulevard de Maisonneuve n’est pas sécuritaire pour les cyclistes et entraîne souvent des conflits entre cyclistes et automobilistes, constatent les chercheurs du Groupe de recherche sur le transport de McGill. Ils estiment que l’absence d’une vision d’ensemble freine la mise en place d’un véritable réseau cyclable à Montréal et, conséquemment, de la confusion quant à la place du vélo dans les rues. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.
De la laitue fraîche à l’année longue, cueillie à côté de chez vous le jour même, produite sans l’aide de pesticides et pas plus chère que celle qui a mis 10 jours pour arriver de la Californie? Préparez-vous à goûter aux légumes produits par Les Aliments Urban Barns, grâce à l’expertise de chercheurs de McGill. L’entreprise, fondée en Colombie-Britannique, a déménagé son siège social dans la grande région de Montréal et y a ouvert son premier centre de production l’an dernier. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.
McGill a accueilli le maire Denis Coderre à l’une de ses cérémonies de collation des grades, le moi dernier, à l’occasion de la remise d’un doctorat honorifique à Jacques Ménard. C’est le maire qui a revêtu M. Ménard de l’épitoge. Les contributions remarquables du réputé fabricant de guitares Robert Godin, de l’architecte Arthur Lau et de la mécène Constance Pathy ont également été reconnues lors de ces cérémonies. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.
Il y a deux ans, Mélissa Simard, une diplômée de McGill, a lancé l’entreprise de découvertes gastronomiques Tours de la table. Les circuits qu’elle propose – qui se démarquent depuis sur le site Trip Advisor – permettent de découvrir des restaurants ou producteurs alimentaires de Montréal, réunis par thème ou par quartier. L’entreprise organise aussi des activités culinaires personnalisées. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.
Circulation automobile ou chant des oiseaux? Il y a certainement des bruits que vous préférez à d’autres. Un étudiant de McGill a participé à la conception d’une balade guidée en 12 étapes qui permet de redécouvrir différentes ambiances sonores du centre-ville de Montréal, du mont Royal au carré Saint-Louis, en passant par l’avenue du Parc et la rue Prince-Arthur. Pour lire la suite, cliquez ici.
Award underlines principal’s academic leadership and long-standing ties between the universities
By McGill Reporter Staff
The ties between McGill and Scotland are in evidence all around campus, be it the granite benches in Visitor’s Square that were quarried in Scotland, near Aberdeen, and prepared by Fyfe Glenrock of Aberdeen; the ceremonial mace used during Convocation ceremonies that was created at the School of Design in the Edinburgh College of Art, or, of course, the iconic statue of University founder James McGill, himself a proud Scot.
Those ties will be even more evident every time Principal Suzanne Fortier walks through the campus. Earlier today, in recognition of her academic leadership and to honour the important intellectual and research ties that bind the two universities, Prof. Fortier was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Glasgow during Commemoration Day Ceremonies in Glasgow.
“We are delighted that Professor Suzanne Fortier has agreed to become a Doctor of the University of Glasgow. She is not only a distinguished scientist in her own right, but she is also an outstanding academic leader, most recently as Principal of our U21 partner, McGill University,” said Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow.
“I am both honoured and very pleased to receive this degree,” said Prof. Fortier. “It is as much a celebration of the long-standing relationship between our universities, as it is a commitment to strengthening our future ties for the benefit of both researchers and students.”
During Prof. Fortier’s visit, she and Prof. Muscatelli will sign an institutional Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) that will support a variety of planned and existing collaborations and initiatives between McGill and the University of Glasgow.
“Over the next five years we plan to work together to create flexible arrangements for student mobility and offer additional opportunities for academic staff to work together on some of the grand challenges facing communities across the world,” said Prof. Muscatelli. “The creation of a jointly supported Principals’ early career exchange fellowship scheme will mark the first concrete expression of this important strategic partnership.”
The historical connections between the Universities of McGill and Glasgow date back to 1756 when the University’s founder, James McGill, was a student at Glasgow. Over the years, the connections between the universities have been further strengthened through a shared commitment to the internationalization of education, expressed through a host of research collaborations and student exchanges. There are currently over 100 Canadians studying at the University of Glasgow
“We are very pleased and proud of Suzanne Fortier,” said Stuart Cobbett, Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors. ”It is a wonderful recognition of her past and current accomplishments. Congratulations to her on behalf of the entire McGill community.”
Prof. Fortier previously received honorary degrees from Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia in 2006 and from Carleton University in 2014.
L’absence d’une « vision d’ensemble » freine la mise en place d’un véritable réseau cyclable à Montréal, déplorent des chercheurs de McGill
Le boulevard de Maisonneuve n’est pas un exemple à suivre pour l’aménagement de futures pistes cyclables, selon les chercheurs du Groupe de recherche sur le transport de McGill.
« Cette piste cyclable n’est pas sécuritaire, estime Dea van Lierop, étudiante au doctorat en urbanisme. On y retrouve différents types de cyclistes, dont des gens qui utilisent le Bixi pour la première fois, beaucoup de voitures qui veulent tourner, et les feux de circulation ne sont pas adaptés, ni pour les cyclistes, ni pour les automobilistes. Les intersections sont dangereuses. Quand c’est très achalandé, je préfère emprunter la rue Sherbrooke. »
« À l’heure de pointe, les risques de conflit entre cyclistes, piétons et automobilistes y sont très élevés », ajoute Ahmed El-Geneidy, professeur à l’École d’urbanisme et directeur du groupe de recherche. Selon lui, le simple ajout de feux de signalisation donnant donnant priorité aux cyclistes – comme on en retrouve à quelques endroits à Montréal – réduirait de beaucoup ces risques.
Alors que Montréal vient de reculer de plusieurs places au palmarès 2015 des villes cyclables de la revue Copenhagenize et a, du même coup, perdu sa première place parmi les villes nord-américaines, Ahmed El-Geneidy déplore l’absence d’un véritable réseau de pistes cyclables à Montréal. « Il y a une piste ici, une piste là, parfois on aménage un tronçon pour régler un problème mais ça en entraîne un autre ailleurs, et cela, car il n’y a pas de vision d’ensemble. »
Les chercheurs font remarquer que lorsqu’il existe un chemin pour se rendre d’un endroit à un autre en empruntant les pistes cyclables, il est souvent impossible de revenir par le même chemin.
« Cela nous donne l’impression que la Ville ne veut pas nécessairement faire la promotion du vélo comme moyen de transport mais plutôt comme activité récréative », indique Dea van Lierop.
Il en résulte une confusion quant à la place du vélo dans les rues. Pas surprenant que les relations entre cyclistes, piétons et automobilistes soient tendues : on ne sait plus qui devrait avoir priorité, disent les chercheurs. Conséquence: personne ne suit les règles, même lorsque les feux de circulation affichent un passage prioritaire aux vélos. « Les cyclistes ne les respectent pas toujours parce qu’ils ont l’impression que les infrastructures manquent de cohérence, note Geneviève Boisjoly, une autre doctorante du groupe. S’il n’y a pas de véritables infrastructures, les gens ne suivront pas les règles. »
Il reste encore beaucoup d’éducation et de sensibilisation à faire afin de rendre les relations entre cyclistes, automobilistes et piétons plus harmonieuses, souligne Ahmed El-Geneidy. À commencer par exiger que les automobilistes connaissent les signaux utilisés par les cyclistes.