Researchers are struggling to explain why Quebec had the country's highest official COVID-19 death toll, but a relatively low number of excess deaths. A study — titled Excess mortality, COVID-19 and health-care systems in Canada — looked at excess deaths, which refers to when observed deaths exceed expectations based on previous years' data, between March 2020 and October 2021. Quebec only had 4,033 excess deaths in that period, despite reporting 11,470 COVID-19 fatalities — almost three times more. It's the biggest gap recorded in Canada during the pandemic. (CBC News)
Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:
Featured expert - Health data
“We are overwhelmed with data regarding COVID-19. Every day brings new studies of potential treatments, of the risks and benefits of medications that many of us are taking, and now of vaccines. It is critical to distill the information coming from this research and sort the signal from the noise.”
Robert Platt, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics
Addictions | Children | Food security and nutrition | Immune system | Infectious diseases and viruses | Mental health | Physical activity and sports | Pregnancy | Safety | Telemedicine and eHealth
Jeffrey Derevensky, James McGill Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology and Director, International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviours
"During this period of quarantine when children and teenagers are left with a lot of unstructured time on their hands, it's especially challenging to limit their playing online internet games. Moderation is the key."
Jeffrey Derevensky is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology and Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviours. He is an international expert in the area of behavioural addictions and was on the World Health Organization's committee which helped identify Internet Gaming Disorder as a recognizable disorder.
jeffrey.derevensky [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Rachel Rabin, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“During these uncertain times, some people may use addictive substances to help cope with stress, anxiety and depression. While initially, it may appear that drugs are reducing these feelings, in fact, they can actually exacerbate them, leading people to increase their drug consumption. This can be especially worrisome for individuals who may be at increased risk of developing an addictive disorder or for those in recovery.”
Rachel Rabin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a researcher at the Douglas Research Centre. Her research program focuses on developing a better understanding of the neurocognitive and social cognitive dysfunction in individuals with substance use disorders in both psychiatric (e.g., schizophrenia) and non-psychiatric populations.
rachel.rabin [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Moshe Ben-Shoshan, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
“Given the rise of variants with elevated risk of contagion and associated with higher risk of severe disease, there is an increasing concern for unvaccinated children. We can expect to see an increase of children being confined to their homes which has been shown to have negative psychological impacts such as depression and anxiety. Vaccination of all individuals including children is crucial in order to protect all Canadians and return to normality.”
Moshe Ben Shoshan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at the Montreal’s Children Hospital. His research looks at the prevalence and potential determinants of food allergies and anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) in children.
moshe.ben-shoshan [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Joanna Merckx, Affiliated Member, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
"Epidemiologic research on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic requires diagnostic technologies and the capacity to interpret results of clinical and population tests for active infection, disease and for history of exposure. Infection and disease affect different populations differently, and age is one of the most important dimensions that impacts all aspects of epidemic spread and health consequences. The particular case of children is an especially understudied clinical and public health problem that as a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases I have a special commitment to research and understand.”
Joanna Merckx is an Affiliated Member in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and the Director of Medical Affairs at bioMérieux Canada, Inc., where she studies the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Her work focuses on clinical infectiology and epidemiology of infectious diseases with an emphasis on diagnostics, pediatrics and perinatology.
joanna-trees.merckx [at] mcgill.ca (Dutch, English, French, Spanish)
Jesse Papenburg, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
"At the beginning of the pandemic, it was suggested that young children were less likely to become infected and this statement still holds true. That being said, because children tend to be asymptomatic or even asymptomatic and suffer from mild illness, there may also be many infected children who have gone undetected and missed us. However, data confirms that the proportion of infected children who need to go to the emergency department and be hospitalized is much lower than in adults and the overall severity of the disease is much lower in children.”
Jesse Papenburg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and an Infectious Disease specialist and medical microbiologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on the epidemiology, surveillance and diagnosis of severe viral respiratory infections among children in Québec and Canada.
jesse.papenburg [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Food security and nutrition
Stéphanie Chevalier, Associate Professor, School of Human Nutrition
"The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our eating behaviours, diet quality, and physical activity on different levels. Some people report more time for home cooking and improving their diet. Many others have a poor diet due to limited resources, cooking skills, and access to fresh foods, or due to periods of anxiety, depression and isolation. We need high-quality data to document how eating behaviours and food intake are affected and by which determinants, as these may have long-term consequences on health outcomes."
Stéphanie Chevalier is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Nutrition and an Associate Member of the Department of Medicine. Her research studies the processes that lead to the loss of muscle mass and strength with aging, and other conditions such as cancer, viral pandemics and diabetes, that may interfere with normal functioning. Her latest initiative, the COVIDiet survey, aims to understand how the eating habits of Canadians are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
stephanie.chevalier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Daiva Nielsen, Assistant Professor, School of Human Nutrition
“Little information is currently available to help us understand how Quebecers organized themselves around getting food during the strict closures and how this experience might have been similar or different in various regions, while being mindful of economic factors that play a role in shaping challenges. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to be a societal issue for some time to come, this data will be valuable to inform food access strategies to help us prepare in the event of future outbreaks.”
Daiva Nielsen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Nutrition. She is currently leading a study to compare household food procurement experiences across different regions in Quebec, including those more affected by COVID-19.
daiva.nielsen [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Anne-Julie Tessier, PhD candidate, School of Human Nutrition
"Diet ranks as the second leading risk factor for chronic diseases including cardiovascular, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases and cancer in Canada, smoking ranking first. It is unclear how food intake, eating habits and other lifestyle behaviours have changed and will continue to be impacted as the pandemic progresses. Using an artificial intelligence-enhanced food tracker app, Canadians are capturing their eating in a fun and easy way. Our goal is to understand which factors such as stress, food access, working from home, possibly modify diet and whether it is linked to the incidence of chronic diseases."
Anne-Julie Tessier is a registered dietitian and a PhD candidate in the School of Human Nutrition. She is currently collaborating with Stéphanie Chevalier, Associate Professor in the School of Human Nutrition, on the COVIDiet survey, a study that aims to understand how the eating habits of Canadians have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
anne-julie.tessier [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)
Gerald Batist, Full Professor, Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology
“In order to manage the COVID-19-related tsunami of cancer patients delayed or otherwise under managed during the pandemic, we will depend on research and innovation; the same way we have found our way through COVID-19."
Gerald Batist is a Full Professor in the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology and the Director of the McGill Centre for Translational Research in Cancer and the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital. His research programs are in novel therapeutics, and he’s made significant contributions to the development of new cancer treatments.
gerald.batist [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Judith Mandl, Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology
“Bat species have been implicated as the reservoir hosts of numerous zoonotic viruses, including Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, rabies and coronaviruses. The immune responses of bats to these viruses results in very different infection outcomes compared to humans (e.g. no obvious clinical signs of infection in bats as opposed to sometimes very high lethality in humans, depending on the virus in question). Understanding how and why the immune response differs from animals to humans could provide us with better tools to prevent disease in humans when a new virus crosses over from its wild animal reservoir.”
Judith Mandl is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and holds the Canada Research Chair in Immune Cell Dynamics. Her research has made important contributions to the field of HIV pathogenesis, demonstrating the absence of ongoing type I interferon production in a natural host for SIV and its impact on downstream adaptive responses. Her current work focuses on T cell recirculation in mouse models of infection or immunodeficiency, making use of cutting-edge research tools that allow linking individual cell-level to population-level processes, including intravital 2-photon and confocal microscopy.
judith.mandl [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Giorgia Sulis, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“COVID-19 likely had a significant impact on health-seeking behaviours and health risk perceptions among older adults. Older adults are at higher risk of serious illness from the virus that causes COVID-19 and the influenza virus. Interestingly, our research shows that, compared to those who did not report having flu shots prior to the pandemic, individuals with a prior history of influenza vaccination were both significantly more likely to receive a flu shot in the 2020/21 season and to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Factors related to the pandemic, such as being concerned about COVID-19, also played in role in determining flu vaccine uptake in this population.”
Giorgia Sulis is an infectious disease epidemiologist and Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Her research interests encompass various global health areas, and primarily tuberculosis, antibiotic usage and vaccines, with a particular focus on low and middle-income countries. In a recent study published in the journal Vaccine, she examined flu vaccine uptake and willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from approximately 23,000 participants enrolled in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, a national platform for research on aging.
giorgia.sulis [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, Italian)
Marc Tewfik, Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
"COVID-19 has raised public awareness of the importance of the sense of smell: affected individuals that lose their ability to smell quickly realize that it is a key part of many of our daily pleasures, such as enjoying good food. Perhaps more importantly though, it is an important mechanism for keeping us safe from harm."
Marc Tewfik is an Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and Director of the Advanced Rhinology and Endoscopic Skull Base Fellowship program. His research focuses on the role of nasal immunity and its interaction with viruses and bacteria in chronically diseased and healthy sinuses, surgical simulation training for endoscopic sinus surgery for all levels of learners, as well as the repair of large surgical defects in the nose.
marc.tewfik [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Infectious diseases and viruses
Anne Gatignol, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine
"The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 is affecting the entire world. Vaccines are now available with excellent protection and few side-effects. Additional vaccines will be available soon and the priority is to vaccinate the entire world to protect the population and decrease the chances of the emergence of new variants. While specific monoclonal antibodies have been developed against the virus, their widespread utilization is limited. Specific new treatments are necessary, and their search is ongoing."
Anne Gatignol is Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and an Associate Member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. She teaches virology and viral pathogenesis, including emerging viruses. Her research focus is currently on the development of RNA-based treatments against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and SARS-CoV-2.
anne.gatignol [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Qian (Vivian) Liu, Assistant Professor, Institute of Parasitology
“Spike proteins of the emerging variants are superior at infection, even in the presence of antibodies generated by patients and vaccinated people. In our new study, by observing the behaviors of the spike protein and its receptors on a single-molecule level we expect to learn why this is the case, and to generate high-quality scientific data to accelerate the development of new prevention and treatment strategies to curb the spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
Qian (Vivian) Liu is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Parasitology and a Full Member of the McGill Centre for Viral Diseases. Her research focuses on understanding the virus-host interactions during the infection and transmission of emerging zoonotic viruses (such as SARS-CoV-2).
qian.liu3 [at] mcgill.ca (English, Mandarin)
Matthew Oughton, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
“As the majority of the population presumably remains susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, relaxing mitigation measures that have been in place for months necessarily come with some risk. Those risks are manageable, provided that adequate testing and contact tracing continue to be performed and need to be balanced against the many regular activities that our population requires in order to function effectively.”
Matthew Oughton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and a specialist in infectious diseases and medical microbiology. He is based at the Jewish General Hospital, where he supervises the bacteriology and molecular microbiology laboratories. His research interests are focused on the use of molecular techniques to improve clinical diagnostic assays, with relevant publications on C. difficile, MRSA, influenza, and other pathogens.
matthew.oughton [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Raymond Tellier, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
"The current episode, involving a virus jumping from another animal species to humans, similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is a classic episode of an ‘emerging virus’. We should note that since SARS, there have been other instances involving coronaviruses, such as the MERS in the Middle East, SADS (a disease affecting swine) in China and now the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.”
Raymond Tellier recently joined the Infectious Diseases team at the McGill University Health Centre and was previously at the University of Calgary, where he remains an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He was part of the research team who first identified the SARS associated coronavirus in Toronto following the outbreak in 2003, in collaboration with several groups in Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver.
raymond.tellier [at] muhc.mcgill.ca (English, French)
Donald Vinh, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
“Recent research shows that curfews have proven to be among some of the most effective interventions, when used with other lockdown measures, to combat COVID-19 because of the age demographic they target and the message they send.”
Donald Vinh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and is an Associate Member in the Departments of Human Genetics and Experimental Medicine. His research focuses on identifying genetic defects of the immune system that explain why certain individuals are prone to infections.
donald.vinh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Danilo Bzdok , Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
“A deepened understanding of the consequences of social isolation for mental and physical health will be key in the years after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Danilo Bzdok is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He holds the Canada CIFAR AI Chair and is involved with the Mila Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute. His latest scholarly work explores the wide-ranging, negative consequences that social isolation has on our psychological well-being and physical health, including decreased life span.
danilo.bzdok [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, German, Italian)
Patricia Dobkin, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
“Physician resilience can be an antidote to burnout and distress. It can be fostered through both ‘bottom up’ measures, such as physicians finding meaning in their work and being able to embody mindfulness, and ‘top down’ approaches, such as directors showing appreciation and providing support (e.g. PPE) for physicians. COVID-19 is challenging due to its uncertainty, unpredictability and various unknowns. Working together, taking care of ourselves, and maintaining realistic hope will help us all get through these turbulent times.”
Patricia Dobkin is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine. She is affiliated with the McGill Programs in Whole Person Care, where she offers doctors and allied health care professionals Mindfulness-Based Medical Practice workshops and courses. Her research focuses on physician well-being and improving patient care.
patricia.dobkin [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Joe Flanders, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
“Heading into this fall, we were hoping the COVID-19 pandemic was in the rear-view mirror. Unfortunately, a small but steady stream of cases, primarily among children and unvaccinated adults, reminds us that the threat is still out there and that we have to, somehow, continue to be vigilant. Public debates about the merit of public health restrictions have added to our collective tension. And yet, the scientific evidence could not be any clearer and our confidence more justified. We were spared the worst of the Delta variant wave because of a successful vaccination campaign and now vaccines for our younger children and boosters for the rest of us will further accelerate our momentum toward normalcy.”
Joe Flanders is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and the founder and director of the MindSpace Clinic, a Montreal-based full-service clinic promoting well-being in individuals, organizations, and communities. He offers Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy to individuals, groups, and organizations.
joe.flanders [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Reut Gruber, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“During the COVID-19 pandemic it is especially important for everyone to establish and follow good sleep habits so they get healthy sleep. Stressors that contribute to insomnia are amplified during the pandemic due to lifestyle changes, and thoughts and feelings that make people worry or feel anxious at night. People suffering from insomnia can seek the help of licensed psychologists with expertise in behavioural interventions for sleep disorders. It is important to note that certifications from institutes or organizations that are not part of a professional society (such as sleep ‘coaches’ or ‘consultants’ ) are usually not regulated and are not licensed or trained in behavioural sleep medicine.”
Reut Gruber is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Attention, Behaviour and Sleep Laboratory at the Douglas Research Centre. Her research focuses on three themes as they relate to pediatric sleep: ADHD, academic performance, and mental health.
reut.gruber [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Jason Harley, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery
“Anxiety isn’t the only emotion that can negatively impact the quality of our thinking and responsible behavior. As numbers continue to improve in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, we must also be vigilant of the influence that relief can have in directing our attention and influencing the way we make sense of COVID-19-related information. Like most things, relief is good in the right dosage because too much can lead to overconfidence, selectively attending to pandemic-related information, and adopting behaviors before they are advised for our and others’ safety.”
Jason Harley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, an Associate Member of the Institute for Health Sciences Education and a Junior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). They are currently conducting research to investigate coping strategies health care workers are using to deal with stress during the pandemic, assess their effectiveness and use that information to recommend new measures to protect the mental health of health care professionals. In collaboration with the SAILS Lab, they are also a developing and testing public education tools to enhance COVID-19 health and media literacy with a special focus on the role of emotion regulation in promoting public understanding and adaptive health behaviors.
jason.harley [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Ross Otto, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
"While the pandemic restrictions have been rather strict and have limited many activities, we should still expect to see person-to-person variability in the ways we perceive the riskiness of less restricted activities, and consequently, the extent to which we engage in these activities – for example, taking a vacation overseas or going to a friend's house for dinner."
Ross Otto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. He studies human decision-making and more recently has been focusing on the impact of pandemic- related fear and/or anxiety on cognitive function and risk-taking.
ross.otto [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Soham Rej, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“Issues related to mental health affect more than a million older adults in Canada, costing nearly $15 billion annually. This situation has been amplified by the pandemic and could continue to worsen in the post-COVID-19 world. Many initiatives, such as a large-scale volunteer-based telemedicine program Telehealth and other technology initiatives (VR, Zoom, platforms, robotics, etc.) launched by our team, will help address this growing problem.”
Soham Rej is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a geriatric psychiatrist at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He is currently leading a team of researchers who is running the large-scale Volunteer-Based Telehealth Intervention Program to over a thousand isolated older adults (TIP-OA) in Montreal and examines clinical trials in late-life mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders at the JGH Geri-PARTy Lab and McGill Meditation and Mind-body Medicine Research Clinic (MMMM-RC).
soham.rej [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Brett Thombs, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“No one could have imagined how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect mental health. Our team has reviewed over 40,000 studies as part of our living systematic review of mental health in COVID-19, which provides a better understanding of how much people have been affected, who has been affected, and what has happened to mental health across different periods of the pandemic.”
Brett Thombs is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an Associate Member of the Departments of Educational & Counselling Psychology; Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, Medicine, Psychology; and the Biomedical Ethics Unit. He is conducting (1) a large-scale, worldwide study on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts like social distancing, particularly on people already suffering from chronic medical conditions and (2) a trial of an intervention designed to reduce negative mental health effects.
brett.thombs [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Samuel Veissière, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Co-director, Culture, Mind and Brain Program
“In times of great uncertainty, catastrophes or disruptions of the social order, people often look for simple narratives and explanatory models to identify culprits. Conspiracy theories can become viral in such moments because they are catchy and intuitive, easy to remember, and easy to pass on. All conspiracy theories follow a similar intuitive recipe grounded in fear of pollution and desire to protect the purity of perceived victims. At a time when the need to work together to build a healthier world has never been so apparent, it is time to treat the Internet for what it is: the most alarming public health risk and threat to democracy we have ever known.”
Samuel Veissière is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, the Co-director of the Culture, Mind, and Brain program and an Associate Member of the Department of Anthropology. An interdisciplinary anthropologist and cognitive scientist, he studies social dimensions of cognition, consciousness, and human well-being through a variety of projects including placebo effects and hypnosis, hyper-sociality in smartphone addiction, social polarization, gender and mental health, and the theoretical study of cultural evolution.
samuel.veissiere [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Portuguese)
Anna Weinberg, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
“Stress is a risk factor for a huge range of health problems, including increases in anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has many elements that make it a particularly potent stressor—including its chronicity, its ability to erode sources of comfort, like social support, and the sustained uncertainty that it has injected into so many areas of our lives. We are already seeing heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression around the world, and these effects may increase over time as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. However, not everyone is experiencing the pandemic in the same way, and different individuals are differentially susceptible to the effects of stress. It is critical to address both the unequal distribution of pandemic-related stress and to promote strategies that individuals can use to buffer against the adverse effects of stress.”
Anna Weinberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Clinical Neuroscience. Her research focuses on identifying biological pathways that give rise to disordered emotional experience.
anna.weinberg [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Robert Whitley, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“COVID-19 restrictions have caused separation from the people, places, and social activities that give our life purpose and meaning. That said, it is important to note that there is a crucial difference between being alone and being lonely. For some, being alone represents a desirable time of comfort and solace. Indeed, such solitude can inspire renewal through reflection and introspection, and can also give time for meaningful activities including meditation, prayer, exercise, writing, creative arts and other activities which can foster positive mental health.”
Robert Whitley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Research Centre. He conducts research on various areas of social psychiatry including religion/spirituality and mental health, psychosocial recovery from mental illness and men’s mental health.
robert.whitley [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Physical activity and sports
Steven Grover, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine
“During social isolation, engaging Canadians to maintain healthy lifestyle habits is at least as important as avoiding the infection. Given that approximately 2/3 of Canadians are overweight or obese and only 15% meet current physical activity guidelines, the impact of more sedentary behaviour, weight gain, and increased stress will result in a huge jump in cases of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and mental health problems including insomnia, anxiety and depression. How we manage our physical and mental health during social isolation is critical and at least as important as maintaining the isolation itself.”
Steven Grover is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. His research focuses on the importance of exercise, healthy eating, and other lifestyle interventions to improve health, as well as on digital, e-healthinterventions using web-based platforms.
steven.grover [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Richard Koestner, Full Professor, Department of Psychology
“This is a time where we have to consider adjusting our personal goals. For instance, many people have the common goal of doing exercise three times a week, though now gyms and sport fields are no longer accessible to the public. Due to the current situation, some have instead taken up jogging, outdoor calisthenics or even invented their own parkour circuits. Such creative adaptations not only allow us to get exercise but also leads us to a new activity that can be surprisingly rewarding.”
Richard Koestner is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology and the head of the McGill Human Motivation Lab. For more than 30 years, he has been conducting research on goal-setting, self-regulation and internalization processes.
richard.koestner [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Gabrielle Cassir, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
“In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the unique concerns of pregnant women need to be addressed, especially those surrounding vaccination.”
Gabrielle Cassir is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a staff physician at the St. Mary’s Hospital Center. Her sub-specialty focused on high-risk pregnancies, with a particular interest in maternal diseases, more specifically obesity, diabetes, hypertension and hyperparathyroidism.
gabrielle.cassir [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Suzanne King, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“Both maternal infections and psychosocial stress during pregnancy have been associated with sub-optimal outcomes in the unborn child. Thus, it’s important for pregnant women to (1) follow public health directives to avoid contracting COVID-19 or any other illness, (2) follow all of the good pregnancy health guidelines such as eating well and taking vitamins, and (3) focus on the positive in their current situation, get psychosocial support to limit stress, and take steps to limit changes to their daily routines as much as possible.”
Suzanne King is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, as well as a Principal Investigator at the Douglas Research Centre. Her current work focuses on fives prospective longitudinal studies of children who were exposed to maternal stress in utero as the result of a natural disaster: the Quebec ice storm of 1998; Iowa floods of 2008; Queensland floods in Australia in 2011; the 2016 wildfires in Fort McMurray; and the flooding in Houston following the 2017 Hurricane Harvey. She is also currently involved in two studies of prenatal stress from COVID-19 in Canada and Australia.
suzanne.king [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Isabelle Malhamé, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine
“Pregnant persons are at increased risk for severe illness and mortality from COVID-19. Importantly, pregnant people can and should have access to similar COVID-19 therapies as non-pregnant individuals. In addition, vaccine hesitancy may be elevated in pregnancy, and clinicians must be well-equipped to counsel pregnant patients on the importance and safety of mRNA vaccines in pregnancy.”
Isabelle Malhamé is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and a clinician investigator at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), where she provides specialized clinical service to women with medical disorders before, during, and after pregnancy. Her research focuses on the prevention of severe maternal morbidity, with an interest for cardiovascular and thromboembolic complications.
isabelle.malhame [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Ashley Wazana, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“A mother’s prenatal mood and worries during pregnancy predict a child’s mental well-being in the long run. When you combine maternal stress with the environmental adversity from the COVID-19 crisis, you have the potential for greater mental health challenges for children who are born into this post-pandemic world. Mental health ought to be a fundamental part of prenatal health. We need to appreciate the importance of mental health needs across the lifespan, starting with pregnancy.”
Ashley Wazana is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a clinician-scientist at the Jewish General Hospital. His research examines how genotypes in the serotonin, dopamine and glucocorticoid pathways and which early maternal experiences interact to modify the trajectory for anxious and depressive psychopathology of children with prenatal adversity.
ashley.wazana [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Parisa Ariya, James McGill Professor, Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry
“We cannot stop all viral transmissions, but we can better manage them. The recent scientific data shows consistently that facial masks diminishes the COVID-19 transmission.”
Parisa Ariya is a James McGill Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry. A world leader in the study of bioaerosol transmission, her research explores major fundamental and applied research questions on chemical and physical processes involving aerosols (including air and waterborne viruses), as well as gaseous organic and trace metal pollutants of relevance to the Earth's atmosphere and to human health.
parisa.ariya [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Michael Libman, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
“As local transmission of COVID-19 appears to be slowing, and travel gradually increases again, the role of travel in contributing to the risk of disease once again is moving to the forefront. What is the risk to travellers? How will we protect ourselves from the unsuspected importation of new variants? We need new data, and new evidence-based strategies.”
Michael Libman is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases at the McGill University Health Centre. His research is on tropical and travel related illness, with a particular focus on the epidemiology of imported infections.
michael.libman [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Yevgen Nazarenko, Research Associate, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
“The World Health Organization recommends indoor air filtration using high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters for removal of aerosols containing SARS-CoV-2 virions from indoor air. Both non-recirculating and recirculating air filtration systems are recommended by the WHO. Air filters are certified to meet stringent standards. The efficiency of filtration of certified filters is known and corresponds to the standard a given filter meets. SARS-CoV-2 virions are found across a wide range of aerosol particle sizes. Filters are certified for efficiency of filtration at the most penetrating particle size.”
Yevgen Nazarenko is a Research Associate in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. His research looks at photochemistry of exhaust-derived pollutants in snow and the development of aerosolization-based technique for characterization of nanoparticulate matter in snow.
yevgen.nazarenko [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Leighanne Parkes, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
“Different groups, ranging from health care workers to everyday people living in zones affected by COVID-19, require different mitigations strategies. When implementing prevention strategies, multiple facets have to be taken into consideration such as physical space, administrative processes and human behaviors. Our last line of defense is often protective equipment like masks, gloves and ocular protection, but this is the ‘weakest’ line of defense. Each population or group needs a tailored approach, and an approach that specifically involves the members of the group involved; an approach of which they can take ownership.”
Leighanne Parkes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at the Jewish General Hospital. She is currently collaborating in a McGill-led clinical research initiative to test the efficacy of existing drugs against COVID-19, in the hopes they may improve outcomes as a vaccine is being developed.
leighanne.parkes [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Vincent Poirier, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
“When traveling, in-flight transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is a real risk, which may be minimized by combining several mitigation strategies. These include mandatory masking onboard, minimizing unmasked time while eating, turning on gasper airflow while inflight, frequent hand sanitizing, disinfecting high touch surfaces, promoting distancing while boarding and deplaning and limiting onboard passenger movement.”
Vincent Poirier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and a physician and aviation medicine specialist at the McGill University Health Centre. He is also the co-founder and director of the Onboard Medical Emergencies course that teaches health professionals how to manage inflight medical emergencies. His expertise has been sought after by major airlines, such as Air Canada and Air Transat, where he serves as a medical consultant on passenger health.
vincent.poirier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Jennifer Ronholm, Assistant Professor, Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry
“Reusable cups or containers could present a risk to restaurant workers if they are being used by someone who has the virus prior to being handed to front line workers. However, to put the risk in perspective, anyone cleaning the tables at the same restaurant would be potentially be exposed at the same or higher rate (via dirty plates and cutlery) if people infected with the virus ate there.”
Jennifer Ronholm is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry. Her research interests include using the latest next-generation sequencing techniques to study how the microbiome of food-producing animals affects food quality, as well as how the microbiome of the food we eat affects human health.
jennifer.ronholm [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Avinash Sinha, Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia
“A review of the evidence suggests a strong recommendation for the use of masks when in public and physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable. Places where the risk is particularly high include public transport, workplaces and enclosed environments that are experiencing increased traffic as we lighten ‘lockdown’ restrictions. We should continue to emphasize the attitude that ‘I protect you, you protect me, together we protect society’ embodied in personal practices that include hand washing and good hygiene, staying at home when possible, isolating when ill, general awareness of contact precautions, especially around vulnerable people or groups, and the practice of physical distancing and physical barriers such as masks.”
Avinash Sinha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesia and an anesthesiologist at the McGill University Health Centre. He is part of a team of Montreal medical experts that partnered with AON3D, a Montreal-based 3D printing company, to design and distribute face shields to protect healthcare workers working COVID-19-infected patients.
avinash.sinha [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Scott Weichenthal, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“The importance of airborne transmission is now recognized for COVID-19. This is particularly important for indoor environments, such as schools and workplaces, as aerosols containing infectious material can pose a serious concern if indoor ventilation and filtration are not sufficient. Schools and workplaces should implement measures to improve indoor air quality to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection. Such measures will also have ongoing health benefits after the pandemic."
Scott Weichenthal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. His research program is dedicated to identifying and evaluating environmental risk factors for chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
scott.weichenthal [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Michael Wiseman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Dentistry, Division of Community-Based Dentistry and Dental Public Health
“Dentists continue to be leaders in infection control. Dentists have been there for the public throughout the pandemic as the zones change from red to, hopefully, green, in the near future. Our offices have remained open to treat our patients as we have complete confidence in our ability to provide treatment in a safe and reassuring environment.”
Michael Wiseman is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry and a dentist in Côte St-Luc. In 2015, he was involved as the Montreal representative in the launch of the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program, a pilot initiative to provide free oral health care to Holocaust survivors.
michael.wiseman [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Telemedicine and eHealth
Sara Ahmed, Full Professor, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy
“At the heart of patient centered care is the ability to adjust care according to a person’s medical condition and personal circumstances and preferences — including during the pandemic. There will be lessons learned on practices to continue, but we must also examine disparities in access to care and why for some patients telehealth, for example, was not offered or accessible.”
Sara Ahmed is a Full Professor in the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. She conducts research aimed at improving health outcomes for individuals with chronic disease by addressing the challenges of using patient reported outcomes (e.g. health-related quality of life, self-efficacy) in chronic disease management programs, and the use of advanced psychometric approaches for improving the precision and efficiency of outcome evaluations.
sara.ahmed [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Antonia Arnaert, Associate Professor, Ingram School of Nursing
“In response to COVID-19, clinicians and healthcare systems worldwide have had to embrace remote and virtual health care. Once the pandemic subsides, hopefully these measures will still be considered to make health and social services more accessible.”
Antonia Arnaert is an Associate Professor at the Ingram School of Nursing. Her research is focused on the implementation and integration of sustainable digital health solutions (including health information technology, mobile health, personalized medicine, telemedicine and wearable health devices) to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and provide personalized care to various patient populations.
antonia.arnaert [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Marie-Hélène Boudrias, Associate Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy
“Many elderly individuals, especially those who have survived a stroke, are no longer receiving adequate rehabilitation services during the COVID-19 pandemic due to containment measures, although rehabilitation is effective in restoring functioning. To overcome this problem, we use telerehabilitation to deliver customized and personalized at-home therapy sessions while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. We are interested in exploring the impact of the pandemic on the delivery rehabilitation services. To do so, we are performing a retrospective analysis of the files of post-stroke users admitted to a COVID-19 designated rehabilitation centre since March 2020. We are also performing electronic surveys to know more about the perspective of users and stakeholders on their experience of care and to identify needs that may not have been met during rehabilitation.”
Marie-Hélène Boudrias is an Associate Professor at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and a researcher at the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital Research Site of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation of Greater Montreal and CISSS-Laval, where she supervises the Brain Research and Imaging of Neurorehabilitation (BRAIN) Laboratory. Her research interests include quantifying brain networks and identifying biomarkers of aging and motor recovery in stroke using the newest advances in neuroimaging and neurophysiological techniques and brain mechanisms supporting the effectiveness of neurorehabilitation interventions on brain plasticity and functional recovery.
mh.boudrias [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Bertrand Lebouché, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine
“Investigating mobile health technology to remotely follow-up with COVID-19 patients at home is important to connect them with care, to protect healthcare providers, and to engage patients in COVID-19 research.”
Bertrand Lebouché is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a Scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Since 2019, Dr. Lebouché has been adapting a patient-conceived smartphone application (Opal), in use at the Cedars Cancer Centre of the MUHC, for HIV care – he has since teamed up with the creators of Opal to create a new application that could provide resources for COVID-19 patients isolating at home.
bertrand.lebouche [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Bereavement and grief | Cities | Crime and civil liberties | Data and privacy | Education | Families and parenting | Indigenous peoples | Media and misinformation | Seniors | Women and gender
Bereavement and grief
Mary Ellen Macdonald, Associate Professor, Faculty of Dentistry, Division of Oral Health and Society
“While some bereaved people may need professional support, for many, a salient social response is community-based acknowledgment and validation about experiences of grief and loss. The ‘Grief Literacy’ movement aims to empower everyday citizens, networks, and communities to understand the loneliness and isolation caused by grief. Our hope is that citizens learn to respond to all forms of loss with acts of kindness and compassion.”
Mary Ellen Macdonald is a medical anthropologist with postdoctoral training in Pediatric Palliative Care. In addition to her appointment to the Division of Oral Health and Society as part of the Faculty of Dentistry, she is affiliated with the Biomedical Ethics Unit, the Departments of Pediatrics, Oncology and the Ingram School of Nursing. Her main research interests include oral health in vulnerable populations, palliative care and bereavement research, cultural aspects of health and illness with Indigenous communities, and health professions education research.
mary.macdonald [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Honor Bixby, Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Health and Social Policy
“The urban poor are among those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been promising examples of action to mitigate the harm on poor and vulnerable communities. As we move into the next phases of the pandemic, we must continue to priorities equity in the response. Cities and local governments should engage local communities to ensure their needs are supported.”
Honor Bixby is a Banting Postdoctoral Research Fellow under the supervision of Jill Baumgartner, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar cross-appointed to the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and the Institute for Health and Social Policy. Her research work focuses on the impact of urban physical, economic and social environments on human health.
honor.bixby [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Ahmed El-Geneidy, Full Professor, School of Urban Planning
“The extent to which our commute and life in a city will change after COVID-19 is unknown, but the pandemic has changed our views about what is possible and what can be achieved in a very short period of time. From physical-distancing corridors for walking and new bicycle lanes to a shift in our understanding of public transport as an essential service and as a lever for economic development, we have seen the power of these tools during the crisis. Now, we should harness the opportunity to deliver healthier and more sustainable cities for all residents.”
Ahmed El-Geneidy is a Full Professor at the School of Urban Planning. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM). His areas of expertise include transport planning and operations, transport economics, measurements of accessibility and intelligent transportation systems.
ahmed-elgeneidy [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Eric Latimer, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“COVID-19 has, among other effects, highlighted the ethical necessity of ending homelessness, as we have seen how important it is for each person to have a home of their own in which they can self-isolate. Since there are not that many people living in chronic homelessness – likely fewer than 3,000 in Montreal – we could, in time, work towards ensuring that everyone has a decent place to live. The cost of doing so would be modest in relation to the benefits – less than $10,000 per year once savings in shelters, emergency department visits, etc. are taken into account. This would enable a person to have an apartment of their own and a professional support team to help them stay housed and move on with their lives. Scaling up this approach will, however, require increasing access to affordable housing.”
Eric Latimer is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Mental Health and Society Research Program at the Douglas Research Centre. A health economist, his research interests focus on community-based supports for people with severe mental illness, as well as people experiencing homelessness, particularly their economic aspects.
eric.latimer [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Kevin Manaugh, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Bieler School of Environment
“The spread and response to COVID-19 reveals disparities in the capacity of the built and social environment to allow for residents of various neighborhoods to shelter in place. The requirements to practice 'physical distancing' highlights limitations of the built form of our cities to allow people to walk and cycle safely. In the short and long term, this will hopefully lead to rethinking about the allocation of street space to allow for increased use of these active modes of transport.”
Kevin Manaugh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Geography and the Bieler School of Environment, as well as an Associate Member of the School of Urban Planning. He conducts research on how urban regions are faced with a multitude of challenges, how decision-makers balance, prioritize and trade-off various—often-conflicting—environmental, economic, and social equity goals.
kevin.manaugh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Grant McKenzie, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography
“There are significant differences in how the inhabitants of countries respond to COVID-19 related polices enacted by their national governments. Through comparing millions of human mobility patterns across 100+ countries, we have discovered that temporal lag in mobility response and variation of patterns within a nation negatively correlate with human development rank indices.”
Grant McKenzie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, where he leads the Platial Analysis Lab, an interdisciplinary research group that works at the intersection of information science and behavioral geography. Much of his work examines how human activity patterns vary within and between local regions and global communities.
grant.mckenzie [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Will Straw, Full Professor, Department of Art History and Communication Studies
“The return of nighttime culture around the world will be one of the clearest signs that we are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. As we watch nightlife returning, the question remains: will it look like it did before the pandemic, or will the culture of the night be reinvented?”
Will Straw is a Full Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, where he focuses on urban media studies. His research explores the ways that the nighttime culture of cities is governed, promoted, and represented.
william.straw [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Crime and civil liberties
Alessandro Drago, PhD candidate, Department of Sociology
"There has been an increase in reported hate crimes targeting Asian Canadians across Canada due to fears surrounding COVID-19. These range from vandalism and verbal abuse to physical violence. Crimes have also targeted the Inuit population in Montreal in cases of mistaken identity. Asian Canadians have been unfairly and erroneously scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19. Far-right groups use uncertain times such as these to promote and propagate their hatred and bigotry, using Asian Canadians as stand-ins for their displeasure with Canada’s migratory policies and with globalization more generally. Given recent violence in the U.S. and Canada, there is little indication that anti-Asian sentiment or behaviour will decline with the end of the pandemic. Individuals should remain vigilant and report any hate crimes targeting Asian Canadians and other marginalized groups. Racist behaviour and rhetoric seen online or heard during interpersonal conversations should also be called out."
Alessandro Drago is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include political sociology, race and ethnicity and right-wing social movements.
alessandro.drago [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English)
Pearl Eliadis, Affiliate Member, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law
“Civil liberties and states of emergency do not co-exist easily, and one clear trend that is emerging is that blanket emergency measures often have severe and disproportionate impacts on marginalized populations as we have seen most recently with homeless populations in Montreal. Even now, we need to remember that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is still in full force and effect, as is Quebec’s Charter of human rights and freedoms. It is vital that government emergency measures be necessary, proportionate and based on the principle of precaution.”
Pearl Eliadis is an Affiliate Member at the Max Bell School of Public Policy, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law. A senior lawyer in private practice and with more than two decades of public policy experience in federal and provincial governments, she has led successfully complex, global projects dealing with national institutions, evaluation, and human rights, with in-country missions to China, Ethiopia, Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan and Timor Leste.
pearl.eliadis [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Marie Manikis, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law
“COVID-19 should be analysed to determine whether it should be considered a relevant factor in decisions across the various stages of the criminal process, including policing, prosecutions, bail, remand, sentencing, and prison administration.”
Marie Manikis is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and has been a William Dawson Scholar since 2019. Her scholarship is interdisciplinary, comparative and uses social science methodologies to advance the available knowledge in criminal law and criminal justice.
marie.manikis [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Data and privacy
Ignacio Cofone, Assistant Professor and Norton Rose Fulbright Faculty Scholar, Faculty of Law
"Contact tracing apps present important benefits for containing the pandemic's spread, but they also introduce surveillance risks that we must consider– both at a policy level and at an individual level. The federal government's COVID-19 Alert app has robust security measures that make it superior to most other alternatives. Risks, however, inevitably remain. The desirable policy response is to identify and mitigate those risks."
Ignacio Cofone is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law, where he teaches artificial intelligence law, business associations and privacy law. His research explores how the law should adapt to technological and social change with a focus on privacy and algorithmic decision-making. In his latest projects, he proposes how to evaluate harm in privacy class actions and how to prevent algorithmic discrimination.
ignacio.cofone [at] mcgill.ca (English, Spanish)
Xiao Liu, Assistant Professor, Department of East Asian Studies
“With expansive digital technologies and vast amounts of data being enlisted for the surveillance and tracking of COVID-19, concerns deepen over personal data privacy and protection of civil liberties. It has become more than urgent to study data protection and technology governance policies worldwide, and to develop robust data governance frameworks in order to protect fundamental rights of human beings. It is our responsibility to shape our post-pandemic world now.”
Xiao Liu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies and currently a Fellow at the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information technologies and digital media, Chinese cinemas, science fiction and fantasy, and (post-) socialist culture and critique.
xiao.liu6 [at] mcgill.ca (English, Mandarin)
Allen Mendelsohn, Sessional Lecturer, Faculty of Law
“COVID-19 turned the Internet into the center of our universe, which presents unique challenges from a legal perspective. The shift to telework for a large portion of the population may end up being permanent, which will present a host of issues in internet law and privacy law.”
Allen Mendelsohn is a Sessional Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, where he teaches a course on Internet Law. He is a Montreal-based independent practitioner specializing in internet and technology law.
allen.mendelsohn [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Derek Ruths, Associate Professor, School of Computer Science
“Social and medical data is a critical ally in navigating, mitigating, and solving the COVID-19 crisis. Making data useful, however, is a challenge. Privacy (what data should be shared and who should access it), misinformation (how do we ensure people get access to reliable information), accuracy (when is statistical modeling or machine learning the right approach and how far can we trust these models), and many other factors will impact whether data helps or hinders the local and global response.”
Derek Ruths is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science, where he heads the Network Dynamics Laboratory. He is also the Director of the Centre for Social and Cultural Data Science. His research interests include the use of data to measure and predict human behaviour on a large scale.
derek.ruths [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Renee Sieber, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Bieler School of Environment
“No country has achieved the requisite threshold for the contact tracing apps to be fully effective. Location tracking (whether through Bluetooth, cellphone tower triangulation or GPS) is sufficiently flawed and could produce many false positives. The apps, especially for those who are concerned about their contribution to more government surveillance, cannot act as a substitute for building trust in government or for traditional contact tracing, to which the funding should be directed. The apps further support the ability of big tech companies to further monetize your movements in space and time and connect that to your health. In the end, these apps offer only a technocratic solution.”
Renee Sieber is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Geography and the Bieler School of Environment and an Affiliated Member of the School of Computer Science. Her research focuses on rewiring geographic information systems for social change, tools for urban and sustainable development and virtual activism.
renee.sieber [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Mindy Carter, Associate Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education
"The COVID-19 pandemic is a curious moment in which human beings have an opportunity to re-orient their relational co-existence with human and non-human life (i.e. water, trees, animals, technology). This time of social distancing and isolation can be a moment to think, feel, perceive and ultimately live in new, hopeful way(s) that consider collective ethical, social, political, economic and embodied limitations. Now is a time to dream about profound transformations of systems, in which critical creative becoming(s) are possible, so that a turn towards a new era can emerge."
Mindy Carter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her expertise pertains to the importance of holistic learning for elementary aged children and how the arts and creativity can help children socio-emotionally connect and share their feelings and foster resiliency.
mindy.carter [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Adam Dubé, Associate Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology
"Teachers and parents are turning to technology during the pandemic as a way to maintain their students’ and children’s education but there is more ambiguity than clarity on what types of educational technologies actually work and how to use them. Some educational technologies work, some cause us to worry unnecessarily, and some are just a waste of time. Research helps us determine which is which."
Adam Dubé is an Associate Professor in the Learning Sciences Program of the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology. He investigates how educational technology augments the learning process and teaches courses on the use of emerging educational technologies.
adam.dube [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Lisa Starr, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education
“Schools, students and society are experiencing history in the making. More than ever we need creative thinking, adaptability and empathy to navigate uncertain times. These are skills we expect of students but must model as teachers as well.”
Lisa Starr is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. She sees her role as being to provide experiences that will not simply show students how to teach but to create a transformative environment so that our future teachers enter into schools and classrooms confident, prepared and ready to inspire.
lisa.starr2 [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Families and parenting
Delphine Collin-Vézina, Full Professor, School of Social Work and Director, Centre for Research on Children and Families
“Evidence from the COVID-19 crisis suggests that children and youth are more likely to be subjected to maltreatment and exposure to family violence, while experiencing limited access to the usual services that support vulnerable families and provide targeted services to meet their needs. Schools, social services, child protection, mental health and psychiatric services, the medical system, community organizations, and advocacy bodies all have the potential to become vectors of resilience and healing for children and youth affected by child trauma.”
A licensed clinical psychologist, Delphine Collin-Vézina is an Full Professor in the School of Social Work, as well as the Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families, the Director of the Canadian Consortium on Child & Youth Trauma, and the Nicolas Steinmetz and Gilles Julien Chair in Social Pediatrics. Her research interests include clinical topics related to child maltreatment, child sexual abuse, and trauma.
delphine.collin-vezina [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Nancy Heath, James McGill Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology
“It is important to understand that we already have been experiencing pandemic fatigue for several months. The resurgence of restrictions and worries about the Omicron variant are tremendously challenging for people's mental health. Medically, we are in a better place to respond – however, in terms of mental health, we have worn down our coping capacity and have fewer reserves to weather this next challenge. People respond differently to the resulting stress/mental health challenge. Some become triggered with anxiety and want to withdraw and avoid threat, others respond by taking risks and insisting they will be fine or it is up to fate. However, we are all in this together and these divergent responses (which come from the same source of pandemic fatigue) can sometimes cause conflict in workplaces, educational settings, or families. We need to try to be tolerant of different responses.”
Nancy Heath is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology. Her research program explores resilience and adaptive functioning in young people at-risk (children, adolescents, and young adults).
nancy.heath [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Lily Hechtman, Full Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry
“Generally, the adaptation to the quarantine and stay-at-home orders is not uniform, but rather influenced by many factors such as financial (in)security, medical and emotional health of family members, and levels of social and emotional support available to the children and parents.”
Lily Hechtman is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and the Director of Research in the Division of Child Psychiatry. An internationally recognized researcher in ADHD, her research is focused on long-term prospective studies of children with ADHD followed into adolescence and adulthood.
lily.hechtman [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Keiko Shikako-Thomas, Assistant Professor, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy
“Children with disabilities and their families are a vulnerable group that is even more marginalized during a crisis. Extra financial and social support resources must be put in place to support families of children with disabilities and complex health care needs. Families are now restricted to their home environment, having to handle on their own the care that normally comes from different systems such as health and rehabilitation, specialized education, respite AND extended family. An added fear is that many of these children have complex health care needs and may be found without the life-saving procedures they need due to the pressures on the healthcare system during the pandemic.”
Keiko Shikako-Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy and the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Disability: Participation and Knowledge Translation. Her research focuses on the promotion of healthy living and the human rights of children with disabilities. She is also interested in knowledge translation science and practice, and uses a participatory approach to engage different stakeholders, including policymakers and children and their families, in finding solutions to change the environment, inform policymaking and promote the participation of children with disabilities in different life roles and activities.
keiko.thomas [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Rusan Lateef, PhD candidate, School of Social Work
“Across the three most recent worldwide pandemics – SARS, H1N1, COVID-19 – we see similar patterns of psychosocial consequences for parents and children. This indicates that we have not been able to learn to plan for the future based on past pandemics and continue instead to respond to pandemics as they occur. Family members’ emotions, fears, and mental health symptoms influence one another. As persistent confinement of family members with one another creates greater potential for emotional contagion, families, especially families with children with special needs, require formal and informal supports to be accessible during a pandemic when most parents’ stressors are higher than usual.”
Rusan Lateef is a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work. She specializes in child sexual abuse research and has clinical experience with parents, children, and families with various social and mental health needs.
rusan.lateef [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English)
Tina Montreuil, Associate Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology
“Chronic and persistent uncertainty can drain our cognitive resources which can lead to more generalized physical exhaustion and eventual mental breakdown. Omicron has the potential to further challenge our ability to tolerate uncertainty, which is a critical factor in a resilient mindset and general sense of well-being. As a way of responding to ongoing adversity and avoiding an all-or-nothing state, it is important to continue relying on key coping strategies such as acceptance, tolerance, and self-care.”
Tina Montreuil is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology and an Associate Member of the Department of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on investigating the role of emotion regulation, attitudes, and beliefs on the development and intergenerational transmission of psychopathology and how symptoms of mental health problems might interfere with self-regulated learning in a group context and ultimately, educational achievement.
tina.montreuil [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Marie-Hélène Pennestri, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology
“It is important to get enough sleep during this period of stress. Sleep is a protective factor for both physical and mental health, in children and in adults. Sleeping enough will contribute to keep individuals healthy, among all the other recommendations. Moreover, family members now spend a lot of time together… sleeping enough will improve their mood and contribute to better family relationships!”
Marie-Hélène Pennestri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology. She investigates the development of the sleep-wake cycle in healthy infants and preschoolers. Her research program also focuses on more vulnerable populations (such as social pediatric, foster children and premature birth).
marie-helene.pennestri [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Victoria Talwar, Full Professor and Chair, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology
“Not all screen time is bad for children and teens. It’s about what they are doing with that time. A child reading a book with her grandparents over Zoom or a teen connecting with friends over social media are two examples that shouldn’t be considered bad screen time. But elementary school-age children shouldn’t have more than two hours of screen time that is ‘pure entertainment’. Parents need to create ‘digital curfews’ and have shared activities, such as board games, to replace screen time. The structure and predictability provided by a digital curfew makes it less likely children will balk at having to get off screens.”
Victoria Talwar is a Full Professor and the Chair of the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Forensic Developmental Psychology. Her research interests include children’s verbal deception, children’s moral development, theory-of-mind understanding and behaviour; children’s expressive display rule knowledge and behaviour.
victoria.talwar [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Kent Saylor, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
“Most Indigenous communities in Canada did very well at protecting themselves during the first wave of COVID-19 but, unfortunately, many were affected by subsequent waves of the virus. There have been many cases and deaths due to COVID-19 among Indigenous peoples during the second and third waves. Many communities continue to struggle with issues including overcrowded living conditions and relatively poor access to medical care that makes the situation more difficult. In Quebec, many communities have been able to minimize transmission of the virus with their own public health measures and with vaccinations. It is important that communities maintain the autonomy to handle the pandemic as they see fit.”
A member of the Mohawk Nation, Kent Saylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the former Director of the Indigenous Health Professions Program in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. For the past 20 years, he has worked as a consultant pediatrician with the Northern and Native Child Health Program of the Montreal Children’s Hospital where he has provided care for numerous Indigenous children throughout Quebec.
kent.saylor [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Pauley Tedoff, PhD candidate, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“Lack of data on social contact patterns in Indigenous communities substantially limits the ability of Indigenous communities to benefit from epidemiological modelling of COVID-19 transmission. There is currently a need to improve the capacity of Indigenous communities to wisely navigate the trade-offs implicit in large-scale public health measures---for instance, whether the benefit of mandatory lockdowns justifies the risk of increased domestic violence and harm to mental health. Indigenous communities often have a substantially higher proportion of multi-generational households, as well as larger household sizes and more crowding in households than the Canadian average. If contact patterns in Indigenous communities differ substantially from those incorporated into conventional predictive epidemiological models, there is a risk that their predictions become inaccurate enough to do more harm than good if used to design public health interventions for such communities.”
Pauley Tedoff is a PhD candidate and a Vanier Scholar in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and a researcher at the Margaret A. Gilliam Institute for Global Food Security, focusing on social and environmental determinants of health. In her work and research, she has predominantly focused on social inclusion and health promotion programs, in service of indigenous and agrarian communities. She is currently living and working in the Western Arctic where she is coordinating the 2021 National Inuit Health Survey: Qanuippitaa? (“How Are We?”).
pauley.tedoff [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)
Media and misinformation
Aengus Bridgman, PhD candidate, Department of Political Science
“Canadians are being bombarded with information regarding COVID-19. While politicians and journalists have generally been doing a good job communicating scientifically sound advice, misleading or false claims continue to circulate widely and change attitudes and behaviours. Canadians are being exposed to this misinformation largely on social media where repeat exposure can confuse, cast doubt, and ultimately produce misperceptions.”
Aengus Bridgman is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, a fellow at the Centre for Democratic Citizenship and a research fellow with the Media Ecosystem Observatory. His research focuses on the participation and motivation of online political activists, the Canadian information ecosystem, and how social media is consequential for politics.
aengus.bridgman [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)
Kimiz Dalkir, Associate Professor and Director, School of Information Studies
“Fake news needs to be tackled in a more comprehensive manner. This involves: improving peoples’ awareness of misinformation; national/provincial legislation and company policies that invoke real consequences for deliberately creating/sharing fake news; and the use of better tools, such as AI, which is able to detect with great speed the spread of fake news vs. real news. The single most effective defense we have is to carefully consider the source of all news.”
Kimiz Dalkir is an Associate Professor and the Director of the School of Information Studies. She is an internationally recognized expert in transfer and retention of critical knowledge and has worked in the field of knowledge transfer for the last two decades.
kimiz.dalkir [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Taylor Owen, Associate Professor, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications
“Our social interactions, our digital economy, our employment, and our politics are moving online. And we are doing so via commercial platforms designed with a very particular set of incentives. These design decisions and incentives are going to have a profound effect on us all. If ever we were to think about and build public digital infrastructures, now would be the time.”
Taylor Owen is an Associate Professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy and holder of the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications. His research focuses on exploring the ethics, civic impact, and governance of emerging technologies.
taylor.owen [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Cécile Rousseau, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry
“Because of the combined effect of chronic stress and social inequities, the pandemic has fueled numerous conflicts and increased social polarization. These trends have been aggravated by unprecedented levels of disinformation which have contributed to legitimize hate discourses and the associated crimes and incidents. Beyond the essential condemnation of these phenomena and the need to support and protect the victims, there is an urgent need to develop prevention programs to mitigate this upsurge in different forms of violence.”
Cécile Rousseau is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a clinical psychiatrist and researcher at the Montreal Children's Hospital, specializing in youth mental health care for immigrant and refugee children and the phenomenon of radicalization leading to violence. She is one of the co-founders of the CoVivre, a program aimed at helping vulnerable communities access health and support resources during the global pandemic.
cecile.rousseau [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)
Emmanuelle Vaast, Full Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“Social media enable people to share multimedia content in new ways. In these turbulent times, it fosters a greater sense of community, but also heightens polarization and divisions.”
Emmanuelle Vaast is a Full Professor of Information Systems in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Her research examines how social practices emerge and change with the implementation and use of new technologies and how these new practices are associated with organizational and change dynamics. Some of the themes she is especially interested in deal with the emergence of new organizational forms and with new dynamics associated with organizational and occupational identification, as well as the future of work.
emmanuelle.vaast [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Shari Brotman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work
“The crisis that unfolded in long-term care homes across Quebec has exposed an ugly truth: our care system relies too heavily on the unpaid and unrecognized work of family caregivers — many of whom are seniors themselves.”
Shari Brotman is Associate Professor at the School of Social Work. She has worked extensively, as an educator, researcher and practitioner in the fields of gerontology and anti-oppression social work practice. Her scholarly activities center on questions of access and equity in the design and delivery of health and social care services to older adults from marginalized communities (ethnocultural minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse) and their caregivers.
shari.brotman [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Maiya Geddes, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery
“Older adults with cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of poor outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an urgent need to develop strategies for remote assessment of thinking, emotion, behaviour and functioning among individuals with cognitive impairment. This presents challenges and opportunities. Optimizing remote assessment and care of brain health for vulnerable seniors and their families would be transformative during the pandemic and beyond.”
Maiya Geddes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery and a clinician-scientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital. Her research aims to determine the brain mechanisms underlying the interaction between motivation and cognition in aging. She is currently leading a team of clinicians working on remote assessment of cognition in cognitively impaired adults.
maiya.geddes [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Susan Mintzberg, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work
“The devastation we are now witnessing in long term care homes has shaken our collective conscience. At the moment, it is a crisis that requires immediate solutions, but this is an issue than runs much deeper and has been building for decades. What we are now forced to face is a larger systemic issue that impacts stigmatized populations, such as seniors and those living with mental illness. As a society we have continuously turned a blind eye to these populations and, as a result, medical specialties such as geriatrics and psychiatry have been grossly underfunded and lack the support needed to properly care for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Susan Mintzberg is a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work. Her research explores the role of families in the mental healthcare system.
susan.mintzberg [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English, French)
José Morais, Full Professor and Director, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine
“It is well known that the elderly is at a higher risks to suffer from the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. This risk is due to aging effects on the immune system, but also chronic diseases, poor level of physical function, malnutrition and medications. Those who have mobility and cognitive issues do worse because of difficulty coping with hygiene and distancing measures. The physical distancing will have more detrimental effects of older adults with dementia as they don’t understand what is going on and suffer from lack of social contact At this stage of the pandemic, it is time to look at the collateral effects of lack of services and socialization to those who are home bound (a much greater number of elderly than those in CHSLDs).”
José Morais is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine. He is also an Associate Member of the School of Human Nutrition. His research interest relates to the assessment of protein metabolism and cellular regulation at whole-body and muscle levels and of protein requirements with age, frailty and diabetes using stable isotopes methodology.
jose.morais [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish)
Tamara Sussman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work
“CHSLDs have been under resourced for a long time and it is regrettable that it took this kind of outbreak to raise public awareness regarding this issue. Family members play a key role in supporting care in CHSLDs, so the fact they have been deemed as 'non-essential' is problematic. Additionally, more and more people are dealing with the death of loved ones and may not have adequate advance care planning measures in place to handle such situations. In the context of COVID-19, conversations about death are even more pressing. Not only should we be fighting to reduce mortality we should be advocating for people to have important conversations with their loved ones about their fears, preferences and the realities of end-of-life care in the current situation."
Tamara Sussman is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. Drawing on over ten years of experience working with adults and families managing health related issues in both hospital and community settings, her research focuses on how health services and systems impact older adults and their family members.
tamara.sussman [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Isabelle Vedel, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine
“A central concern of the COVID-19 pandemic is the far-reaching implications for persons living with dementia in the community and in long-term care, since they are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are not only at risk for infection, but also suffer greatly from the population-level containment strategies – such as social distancing – and disrupted access to supportive and health care. Eighty per cent of the deaths during the pandemic have taken place in long-term care in Canada, and we know that approximately 80 per cent of people in long-term care have dementia. We must make an extra effort for them and make sure that they can be well cared for during the pandemic.”
Isabelle Vedel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the co-founder and scientific director of the Research on organization of healthcare services for Alzheimer’s (ROSA) team. Her research interests are mainly in health care organization and primary health care services for persons with multiple chronic diseases and older patients.
isabelle.vedel [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Mark Yaffe, Full Professor, Department of Family Medicine
“Elder abuse, characterized as an act (or acts) of omission or commission that can lead to an array of negative consequences (physical, psychological, financial, etc.) for an older adult, commonly occurs within a relationship or during an encounter where there is an expectation of trust. The COVID-19 pandemic may accentuate conditions that might put seniors at risk for abuse and this merits attention. Some published literature on elder mistreatment makes a distinction between bad outcomes with a specific caregiver and those that appear associated with systems' or institutional limitations.”
Mark Yaffe is a Full Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a member of the Department of Family Medicine at the St. Mary’s Hospital Center. His work on elder abuse is acknowledged internationally, as he has led an interdisciplinary team that developed and validated WHO-recognized Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI), a simple tool to assist family physicians in detecting elder abuse.
mark.yaffe [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Women and gender
Claudia Mitchell, Distinguished James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education
“It is rather concerning to see how physical isolation is impacting girls and women, especially in situations of domestic tensions and financial worries. During this time, it is even harder for girls and women to speak out against these issues. While we are trying to ‘flatten the curve’ with lockdown measures, we are dealing with a less noticed ‘shadow pandemic’ characterized as the harm inflicted on girls and women, as noted by colleagues working on gender-based violence all over the world.”
Claudia Mitchell is a Distinguished James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and the Director of the Institute of Human Development and Well-being. Her research in relation to youth, gender and sexuality, girls’ education, teacher identity, and critical areas of international development linked to gender and HIV and AIDS uses visual and other participatory methodologies.
claudia.mitchell [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Shaheen Shariff, James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education
“Emerging research has demonstrated that, for women in particular, the stress of the past 18 months has increased rather than diminished. Not only are women more likely to be in frontline professions such as nursing, teaching, and the service industry, but they are also more likely to be primary caregivers for children who cannot yet be vaccinated. While reports of domestic violence increased during the lockdown stages of the pandemic, the challenges of protecting families as society opens again may put women at a further disadvantage. It is imperative that provincial and federal governments ensure that all marginalized communities, and especially the women in these communities, have access to the supports and resources they need to keep themselves, their children, and families safe.”
Shaheen Shariff is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and an Associate Member of the Faculty of Law. Her work is centred on the intersection of education, law and policy, with a focus on constitutional, human rights and civil law as it impacts educational institutions. She is best known for her work on cyberbullying, and sexual violence as symptoms of deeply ingrained systemic discrimination and societal power imbalances (intersecting forms of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and xenophobia).
shaheen.shariff [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Canada | China | Health policy | International relations | United States
Daniel Béland, James McGill Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
“Policy responses to the Omicron variant have proved politically controversial in all the provinces, including in Ontario and Quebec, two jurisdictions where provincial elections are scheduled for later in 2022. In this context, and especially in the months to come, the relationship between the evolution of the pandemic on the ground and political and electoral considerations is likely to become even more crucial in Canada’s two largest provinces.”
Daniel Béland is the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and a James McGill Professor in the Department of Political Science. He specializes in the fields of Canadian and comparative politics, as well as the study of public policy, including social policy.
daniel.beland [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Johanne Poirier, Full Professor, Faculty of Law
“Federalism yields both advantages and disadvantages in handling complex challenges such as a pandemic. We see different federal systems reacting in different ways. In Canada, in the short term, there has been what we could call ‘federal civility’. Tensions that existed before will not disappear and the opacity of all intergovernmental relations in this context should be of concern.”
Johanne Poirier is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law and holds the inaugural Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism. Her research explores various aspects of federalism, such as the protection of minorities (notably linguistic ones), intergovernmental relations and cooperative federalism.
johanne.poirier3 [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Juan Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
“The global pandemic and varying responses from governments have provided the Chinese government a rare opportunity to showcase its capability for effective governance, to contrast with the United States and question the utility of "democracy," and to capitalize on racial discrimination against Chinese overseas and alienate the West from its citizens.”
Juan Wang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. Her areas of interest include contentious politics, authoritarian politics, and law and politics with a country focus of China.
juan.wang2 [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Ananya Tina Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“Right now, the push for wealthy countries to send COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries is a necessary ‘Band-Aid’. For as long as global health problems are solved by what is essentially voluntary donations, there will always be a divide between the rich and the poor. In some ways, COVID-19 is following in the footsteps of the fight against AIDS. That, too, was a global pandemic, but while Western countries were able to get it largely under control, thanks to expensive pharmaceuticals, poorer countries remain reliant on donations and foreign aid and continue to battle what is still an active threat."
Ananya Tina Banerjee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Her unique dual training in qualitative and quantitative research methods enables her to study health inequities driven by social and political forces in Canada and globally.
ananya.banerjee [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Associate Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Bieler School of Environment
“The ‘science of happiness’ provides a new and extraordinarily relevant tool for making policy decisions (cost-benefit) about COVID-19 and COVID-19-policy impacts. Moreover, the home confinement has likely impressed on or reminded people of what matters most in life, making this an opportune time for the trend amongst governments to align increasingly their policy processes towards an accountability to human outcomes.”
Chris Barrington-Leigh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Bieler School of Environment and an Associate Member in the Department of Economics. His research makes use of subjective well-being reports to address the relative importance of social and community-oriented aspects of life as compared with material consumption.
chris.barrington-leigh [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
“This pandemic does not affect us all equally. We know that COVID-19 has exacerbated the conditions of certain communities who already experience systemic inequality, poverty and discrimination. Our failure to collect disaggregated data on race and income is unethical and prevents us from providing a racially equitable response to the immediate needs of these communities while simultaneously ensuring their medium and long-term survival post-crisis and beyond.”
Alicia Boatswain-Kyte is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. With over ten years of clinical experience working with marginalized individuals, families and groups, her research interests center around the systemic oppression of racialized individuals and how this contributes to their unequal representation within systems of social control.
alicia.kyte [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Iwao Hirose, Full Professor, Bieler School of Environment and Department of Philosophy
“How should we allocate scarce health care resources such as mechanical ventilators, hospital beds, antiviral drugs, and vaccines and set priority among people who want these resources? The issue of priority-setting is highly controversial and requires careful ethical assessments."
Iwao Hirose is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Bieler School of Environment and the Department of Philosophy and the Canada Research Chair in Value Theory and the Philosophy of Public Policy. His research combines the formal method of economic theory and the analytical method of ethical theory to examine the evaluative foundations of health care and environmental policy.
iwao.hirose [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Jay S. Kaufman, Full Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“It is difficult to make rational social and health policies to confront the current pandemic without good surveillance of the population, an understanding of the patterns of transmission, and the risk factors for infection and severe disease. Valid and representative data are the foundation on which sensible policies can be constructed.”
Jay S. Kaufman is a Full Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, a full member of the Centre on Population Dynamics and an Associate Member of the Institute for Health and Social Policy. His work focuses on social epidemiology, analytic methodology, causal inference and on a variety of health outcomes including perinatal outcomes and infectious diseases.
jay.kaufman [at] mcgill.ca (English, Spanish)
Nicholas King, Associate Professor, Biomedical Ethics Unit and Department of Social Studies of Medicine
"The COVID-19 pandemic has raised fundamental ethical dilemmas at the heart of public health policy. What is the fairest way to distribute scarce health care resources? How far can the government go in restricting the fundamental freedom of individuals and groups to travel, associate, and peacefully assemble? What obligations do individuals have to protect themselves and others from COVID-19? And what is the appropriate role of scientific evidence in responding to the pandemic? Effectively responding to COVID-19 requires a commitment to transparently producing, understanding, and acting on the best available evidence, fully recognizing its attendant uncertainties and accepting accountability for decisions. We must look to designing democratic institutions that cherish and maintain these values."
Nicholas King is an Associate Professor in the Biomedical Ethics Unit and the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and an Associate Member in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Institute of Health of Social Policy and the Max Bell School of Public Policy. He conducts research on public health, ethics, policy, health information, inequalities, and measurement.
nicholas.king [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Arijit Nandi, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Interim Director, Institute of Health and Social Policy
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected socially disadvantaged populations and highlighted serious gaps in our social safety nets. Social policies, including income support and paid sick leave policies, are among the key instruments that we have to mitigate the adverse social, economic, and population health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Arijit Nandi is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and the Institute of Health and Social Policy, where he serves as the Interim Director. He holds the Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Health and his scholarly work focuses on the understanding the effects of programs and policies on health and health inequalities in a global context using experimental and quasi-experimental approaches.
arijit.nandi [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Robert Platt, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics
“We are overwhelmed with data regarding COVID-19. Every day brings new studies of potential treatments, of the risks and benefits of medications that many of us are taking, and now of vaccines. It is critical to distill the information coming from this research and sort the signal from the noise.”
Robert Platt is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics. He holds the first Albert Boehringer Chair in Pharmacoepidemiology. His research focuses on improving methods for the study of medications using administrative data, with an emphasis on methods for causal inference and a substantive focus on medications in pregnancy.
robert.platt [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Sociology
“Physical distancing is a privilege not available to all, especially in urban settings. This, along with the shocks to the economy (job loss) mean the epidemic will likely exacerbate social inequalities.”
Amélie Quesnel-Vallée is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Sociology and the Director of the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms. She also holds the Canada Research Chair on Policies and Health Inequalities. Her research examines the contribution of social policies to the development of social inequalities in health over the life course.
amelie.quesnelvallee [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Vanessa Rampton, Branco Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Philosophy and Institute for Health and Social Policy
“The SARS-CoV-2 virus has exposed social problems that, by their very nature, go beyond science: deep-rooted health and social inequalities, our difficulties coping with uncertainty, and our entanglement with nature. Science still has a role to play in addressing these systemic issues, but it is a supporting one to the humanities and social sciences.”
Vanessa Rampton is a Branco Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for Health and Social Policy. Her scholarly works covers how philosophical ideas are adapted and reappropriated in concrete (historical, institutional) situations, and what these transformations can tell us about the ideas themselves. Her current project examines ideas of progress in contemporary medicine.
vanessa.rampton [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Daniel Weinstock, Full Professor and Katharine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy, Faculty of Law
“This is the year that, at least according to some experts, will see the pandemic give way to an endemic situation. However, the decision to declare an end to the pandemic is as much a political as it is an epidemiological one. We will have to decide on thresholds — of infections, of hospital stays, of deaths, rates of vaccination — below which we are prepared to ‘live with’ the virus. We will also have to decide on the kind of society that we want coming out of the acute phase of this crisis. The input of scientists will be invaluable in providing us with the relevant information, but the time has come to invite other kinds of expertise into the conversation, as well as the input of ordinary citizens.”
Daniel Weinstock is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law, where he holds the Katharine A. Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy. His research explores the governance of certain types of liberal democracies, and the effects of religious and cultural diversity from an ethical perspective on the political and ethical philosophy of public policy.
daniel.weinstock2 [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Ma'n H. Zawati, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics and Executive Director, Centre of Genomics and Policy
“COVID-19 projects that recruit patients or participants need solid governance. Whether it is with the creation of consent templates or the development of a streamlined system for access to data and samples, ensuring the ethical and legal acceptability as well as international interoperability of projects is crucial.”
Ma’n H. Zawati is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Executive Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy. His research concentrates on the legal, ethical and policy dimensions of health research and clinical care, with a special focus on biobanking, data sharing, professional liability, and the use of novel technologies (e.g. mobile health apps, WGS, WES) in both the clinical and research settings. In recent times, he has undertaken COVID-19 research in the legal and policy issues surrounding the use of mobile health technology apps for symptom checking and in research participant recruitment.
man.zawati [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Leonardo Baccini, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
“There is a great deal of variation in how governments are responding to the pandemic. This variation can be explained by the various incentives being set in place by politicians seeking reelection. This is because COVID-19 and related policies will be the most salient topics in future elections. In short, we see politics as usual in these unusual times.”
Leonardo Baccini is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. His current research focuses on the political consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the potential increase of the support of populist parties in Europe and North America and the pandemic’s impact on trade flow and foreign direct investment (FDI) to analyze whether international trade institutions – such as the World Trade Organization and bilateral investment treaties – mitigate the negative effect of the pandemic on trade and FDI.
leonardo.baccini [at] mcgill.ca (English, Italian)
Rex Brynen, Full Professor, Department of Political Science
“Canada has emerged as a world leader in vaccinating its own population. However, the global distribution of vaccines has been heavily skewed towards wealthy countries. Unless we can vaccinate more of the world’s population against COVID-19, the threat of new variants and new waves of infection remains.”
Rex Brynen is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science. He has served as a member of the Policy Staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs, as an intelligence analyst for the Privy Council Office, and as a consultant to various governments, UN agencies, and the World Bank. He co-organized red team and tabletop exercises for the Public Health Agency of Canada, which were used to identify contingencies and support federal vaccine planning.
rex.brynen [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Raphael Lencucha, Associate Professor, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy
"The WHO is always in a precarious position when it needs to coordinate efforts among their member states, particularly during an emergency. However, the WHO plays a crucial role in coordinating a timely and evidence-informed response to COVID-19, and other transnational threats to human health.”
Raphael Lencucha is an Associate Professor in the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. He is interested in the social, political and economic context of public policy making and implementation with a focus on tobacco governance. In recent times, he served as advisor for the development of the Implementation Review Mechanism for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization.
raphael.lencucha [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Jason Opal, Associate Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies
“With the rise of the extremely contagious, but somewhat less virulent Omicron strain, governments around the Western world are groping for a way to ‘live with’ this pathogen, a strategy that makes more political than medical sense. We can see a divergence between the United Kingdom and the United States, on the one hand, and Canada and the European Union on the other. The U.K. and U.S. are essentially done with restrictions on public or private events and gatherings; they are counting on biotechnological advances (anti-viral pills and boosters) to get their populations to relatively safe endemicity. Again, this is a very risky and somewhat brutal calculation, especially in the U.S., where vaccination rates are stalled at around 65%. Canada and the E.U., on the other hand, are maintaining or strengthening public safety measures to ease the hoped-for transition to endemicity. The goal, it appears, is to slow but not stop Omicron, thus keeping hospitals afloat until greater immunity and more treatments can ease the pain.”
Jason Opal is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies, where he teaches and writes about the US Constitution in different periods of American history. His work tries to integrate social, cultural, and intellectual history and to shed light on such broad topics as nationalism, capitalism, democracy and U.S.-Canada foreign relations.
jason.opal [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Economic impacts | Health care services and spending
Rui Castro, Full Professor, Department of Economics
“The public policy response to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic needs to emphasize three priority areas. First and foremost, massive spending in public health, to address the root of the problem. Second, expansion of social insurance policies, to alleviate the economic burden of the hardest-hit individuals. Third, liquidity provision to individuals and firms, to help them overcome this temporary shock and prevent the destruction of viable businesses.”
Rui Castro is a Full Professor in the Department of Economics. His research is on macroeconomics with connections to other areas such as economic development, labor economics, international economics, political economy, and finance.
rui.castro [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Elena Obukhova, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“In the last year, entrepreneurs faced tremendous challenges: a drop in demand, skittish investors, disruptions of supply chains, and a shift to virtual work. Yet, many start-ups survived and are well-positioned for growth as the economy re-opens. To move forward, entrepreneurs need to consider local sourcing, mixed-channel retailing, and a hybrid office.”
Elena Obukhova is an Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management. As an economic sociologist whose research focuses on how relationships, gender, politics and other social processes shape market outcomes, she examines the value of social connections in job search and what enables individuals and organizations to act in non-conformist fashion. She is currently conducting research on entrepreneurial resilience during COVID-19 pandemic in collaboration with Daphne Demetry from the Desautels Faculty of Management.
elena.obukhova [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Christopher Ragan, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Director, Max Bell School of Public Policy
“The economic and financial policies undertaken by the federal government during the pandemic have been unprecedented and on a massive scale. Both in terms of new spending by the federal government and bond purchases by the Bank of Canada. The fiscal policy has caused an enormous increase in government debt; the monetary policy has caused an enormous increase in the domestic money supply. Both of these changes will need to be reversed at some point in the future, probably gradually, and they will also force the government to re-think its priorities. There is little sign that the government is thinking about this now, but hopefully it will start soon.”
Christopher Ragan is the Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics. He is the former Chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, a former member of the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, a former Clifford Clark Visiting Economist at Finance Canada, and a former Special Advisor to the Governor of the Bank of Canada. His research and academic writing is largely focused on Canadian public policy challenges, especially macroeconomic policy.
christopher.ragan [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Health care services and spending
Leslie Breitner, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management and Academic Director, International Masters for Health Leadership
“The COVID-19 crisis has given rise to the exploration of ‘blind spots’ in the local and national health care systems. Rather than being reactive, we must think ahead and be in an anticipatory mode. This includes thinking about what happens to rural areas with regard to health care delivery, what to do when structured organizations simply cannot respond rapidly, and the collateral damage of non-COVID-19 patients and victims.”
Leslie Breitner is a Senior Faculty Lecturer at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Director of the International Master’s Program for Health Leadership. She is an experienced teacher in distance learning courses and has also taught and acted as a consultant to medical schools, teaching hospitals, foundations, and nonprofit organizations on issues related to financial management, integrated health delivery, and strategic planning.
leslie.breitner [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Yichuan (Daniel) Ding, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“The COVID-19 pandemic will likely change the healthcare delivery process in the next 3 to 5 years. A rise in interest in the management of hospitals or other public sectors can already be observed and will continue into the post-COVID-19 world.”
Yichuan (Daniel) Ding is an Assistant Professor of Health Analytics and Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research interests include optimization, queueing, and statistics, as well as their applications in public sectors, including cadaver kidney exchange and allocation policies, affordable housing management, emergency department operations, outpatient and surgical scheduling.
daniel.ding [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Erin Strumpf, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Economics and Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“The sweet spot is taking action to limit the spread of the disease and impact on healthcare systems and on population health, while simultaneously minimizing the costs of restricting economic activity.”
Erin Strumpf is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Her research in health economics focuses on measuring the impacts of policies designed to improve the delivery of health care services and improve health outcomes. She examines the effects on health care spending and health outcomes overall, and on inequalities across groups.
erin.strumpf [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)
Airline industry | Buying local | Retail industry | Supply chain | Telework and remote work
John Gradek, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies
“As federal and provincial public health measures are being progressively relaxed, there remain important considerations associated with international travel that Canadians need to be aware of. The pre-arrival testing, either PCR or antigen, for international air travel remains a requirement and anyone testing positive will be refused air travel. Why is this requirement still in place for fully-vaccinated travellers? What should air travellers do to mitigate this potentially expensive and time-consuming risk? International travel needs to have bureaucracy reduced. Vaccination and testing, currently in place concurrently, are practices that urgently need a realignment.”
John Gradek is a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies, where he is also the program coordinator for the Diploma in Integrated Aviation Management. He has held senior roles at Air Canada in operations, marketing and planning and has worked in the development and the delivery of commercial airline management programs for the International Aviation Management Training Institute. He is currently an adjudicator with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.
john.gradek [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Karl Moore, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
"This is the greatest crisis that the airline and aerospace industry has ever faced. It will result in dramatic changes for the industry worldwide."
Karl Moore is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management. He is an international expert in the airline and aerospace industry and has taught, consulted and advised the Canadian Government, IATA, ICAO, Lufthansa, British Airways, Air Canada, CAE and Bombardier, among others.
karl.moore [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Pascal Thériault, Faculty Lecturer, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
“In this current COVID-19 era, labour shortages have proven to be a challenge in many industries, but especially in the agri-food sector where the perishability of the product and constraints of product biological cycles have proven to be difficult to manage. It is likely that as labour issues in processing and production facilities drive food costs up, figuring out how Canadians will achieve greater food security is likely to become our next challenge.”
Pascal Thériault is a Faculty Lecturer in the Farm Management and Technology Program and the Director of Community Relations at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A trained agricultural economist, his expertise includes agri-food marketing, entrepreneurship, farm business management, food waste, international trade and value chain management.
pascal.theriault [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Charles de Brabant, Executive Director, Bensadoun School of Retail Management
“Contrary to the common narrative that retail is dying, the retail sector is surprisingly healthy, resilient and innovative. In 2020, the sector performed better than expected. At the same time, retail is in a state of profound transformation led by significant shifts in consumer and shopper behaviors and unparalleled technological innovations. As a result, retail competition will continue to be healthy and fierce. Those who worked hard to transform their operations and took risks to launch innovative businesses are emerging as winners and will have tremendous opportunities in the future.”
Charles de Brabant joined McGill University in 2017 to co-lead the creation and the development of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management whose ambition is to be the leading academic institution in the world dedicated to the future of retail. With over 25 years of experience mostly working in Europe and most recently in China and South East Asia, his passions and expertise sit at the crossroads of people, development, executive education and consulting in strongly branded and fast-growing retail environments.
charles.debrabant [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Maxime Cohen, Full Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“As the world rallies to contain the spread of COVID-19 among populations, consumers continue to adapt to the new normal, characterized by stringent physical distancing and self-quarantining measures. Few aspects of consumer behaviour will be left unchanged over the long term. Understanding and preparing for these changes will be critical for a retail industry that was already well attuned to rapid and evolving transformation.”
Maxime Cohen is a Full Professor of Retail Management and Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Co-Director of the McGill Retail Innovation Lab. His core expertise lies at the intersection of data science and operations management.
maxime.cohen [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Yu Ma, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“The retail industry has to be prepared for the multifaceted and profound impact of the pandemic. The pandemic has changed consumer purchasing habits in many ways. Consumers are buying more online, experiencing more anxiety in brick-and-mortar stores, and are feeling the higher cost of living in their daily lives. Retailers have to adapt these changes quickly to survive.”
Yu Ma is an Associate Professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management and a Bensadoun Faculty Scholar. His research interest includes food marketing, retailing and big data analytics. Using consumer purchase data and advanced econometric and statistical models, he studies how consumers react to various marketing incentives.
yu.ma [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Ashesh Mukherjee, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“The Internet has made other people’s panic buying much more visible. Online news from around the world highlights shortages of products; the moment we access such content in our Facebook feed, we are automatically shown similar stories in future news feeds. This creates an illusion that everyone is hoarding, which prompts us to do the same. Hoarding is a self-fulfilling prophecy: people who hear about possible shortages buy more, which causes merchandise to disappear from shelves and makes the shortage seem real.”
Ashesh Mukherjee is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management, where he teaches consumer behavior and marketing management. His research focuses on marketing communications, word-of-mouth, online behaviour and pro-social behaviour, including the use of scarcity in advertising, the impact of product advisors on consumer decision-making and behavior in peer-to-peer markets such as Airbnb and Uber.
ashesh.mukherjee [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Javad Nasiry, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“The sudden spike in demand, whether for medical supplies or consumer goods, has caught supply chain managers by surprise. Supply chains are resilient enough to weather the short-term consequences and catch up with demand. However, labour markets that are affected by sickness, strikes, and layoffs can jeopardize the short-term and, more critically, the long-term response to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Javad Nasiry is an Associate Professor of Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His main research interests are in behavioral operations, supply chain management, retail operations, operations-marketing interface, and empirical operations-finance interface. His work in behavioral operations elaborates on whether and how psychological phenomena such as reference effects may affect aggregate variables (e.g., market demand) and their implications on firms' operational policies especially in pricing, inventory, and assortment.
javad.nasiry [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Saibal Ray, James McGill Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management and Academic Director, Bensadoun School of Retail Management
“Supply chain problems and their impact have taken over the news cycle as the ‘pandemic news’ wanes. However, it is important to understand the underlying reason for this phenomenon, what are the short-medium term implications and what are the long-term solutions (if any). Especially important is to think about the pros and cons of shorter and perhaps local supply chains and how companies can manage supply chain associated risks.”
Saibal Ray is a James McGill Professor of Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Academic Director of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. His expertise is in supply chain management, specifically supply chain risk management, retail operations management, and supply chain issues related to agri-food and natural resources sectors.
saibal.ray [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Telework and remote work
Marie-Lyne Grenier, Faculty Lecturer, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy
“Globally, many workers and students are adapting to the shift to working and learning from home. This shift comes with particular risks to one’s physical and mental health. Ensuring an ergonomic working or learning space can decrease the risk for physical and mental health difficulties. Resources to help guide workers and students are abundant online. However, sifting through these resources to determine evidence-based ‘best practices’ is much more challenging and yet vital to preventing further risks to workers’ physical and mental health. Tips for how to set-up an ergonomic space that is based on sound evidence should be prioritized for at-home workers and learners to decrease health risks during this period of social distancing.”
Marie-Lyne Grenier is an Occupational Therapist and Faculty Lecturer at the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. She is also an ergonomic specialist and a consultant.
marie-lyne.grenier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Jean-Nicolas Reyt, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“For millions of Canadians, hybrid work is the new normal. Managers who have no experience with remote workers face important challenges, such as monitoring performance, maintaining employee motivation, and onboarding new team members. Organizations need to redefine what "management" means in a world where employees work remotely.”
Jean-Nicolas Reyt is an Assistant Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management, where he teaches organizational behavior and negotiation. His research focuses on topics related to the future of work, such as the impact of remote work and technology on creativity, innovation, and interpersonal outcomes in the workplace.
jean-nicolas.reyt [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Inequality and job loss | Labour market | Migrant workers | Nonstandard work
Inequality and job loss
Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“The effects of COVID-19 on work and workers cascade beyond job loss and accelerating the ongoing work-from-home movement. New work is being created and some existing work is being destroyed. Many of these changes could persist well beyond the pandemic itself.”
Lisa Cohen is an Associate Professor and Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Desautels Faculty of Management. Prior to joining Desautels, she was a faculty member at the London Business School, the Yale School of Management and the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine, where she taught in the areas of strategic human resources, organizational behavior, and communications.
lisa.cohen2 [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Barry Eidlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
“Two years into the pandemic, the inequalities it exposed remain stark. Initial sympathies for ‘essential workers’ did not translate into increased concern for their health and safety, and many temporary measures like ‘hero pay’ have been walked back. Women have borne the brunt of increased unpaid care work as schools and daycares remained closed or moved online. Meanwhile, essential workers, those with disabilities, and communities of colour have been the most impacted by the virus, as they are those most economically insecure, and therefore least able to take steps to stay safe. The government response in Canada, while favorable compared to the policy and public health disaster that has unfolded in the U.S., has still failed to address these inequalities. Addressing the fundamental social power imbalance is key to bringing the pandemic under control and protecting everyone.”
Barry Eidlin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. As a comparative historical sociologist, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies.
barry.eidlin [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
John-Paul Ferguson, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management
“The restrictions on economic activity that we have to observe to fight this virus will land disproportionately on those people more marginally employed. The way we try to remedy that — specifically the forms economic stimulus can take — will have to look different than what was employed, for example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in the United States. In the end, subsidies to employers are likely to leave contract workers out in the cold.”
John-Paul Ferguson is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour in the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research focuses on careers, labor markets, and employment segregation. In addition to his academic work, he has prior experience with the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, and the U.S. Department of State.
john-paul.ferguson [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Francesco Amodio, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Institute for the Study of International Development
“When it comes to labor market relief measures, we are seeing governments around the world adopting one or a combination of the following two approaches. In the first one, the government lets firms lay off workers, then pays out employment insurance or benefits or other cash transfers. The second approach is to have the government subsidizing wages in order to avoid layoffs. As for Canada, the new Emergency Response Benefit (ERB) is in line with the first approach. The 75% wage subsidy for small and medium businesses belongs to the second approach. There are pros and cons to each of these measures.”
Francesco Amodio is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Institute for the Study of International Development. His research focuses on labour economics, development economics, and political economy. He studies market imperfections and their impact on the productivity and efficiency of organizations.
francesco.amodio [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Fabian Lange, Full Professor, Department of Economics
"The labor market is going through unprecedented turmoil and remains fragile. Nevertheless, hiring and vacancy formation is strong and there are indications that hysteresis in the labor market will not hinder the economic recovery.”
Fabian Lange is a Full Professor in the Department of Economics and holds the Canada Research Chair in Labour and Personnel Economics. He is also a Research Associate in the NBER’s Labour Studies Program, and editor of the Journal of Labor Economics. He studies how changing mobility in the labor force interacts with the business cycle and the process by which individuals get shut out of the labor market.
fabian.lange [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Edward Dunsworth, Assistant Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare to the broader public what has long been known to migrant farm workers and their allies: that their substandard living and working conditions and extreme structural vulnerability place them at a heightened risk of workplace abuse, injury, illness, and death. Whether or not the tragedies of COVID-19 within the agricultural sector and temporary foreign worker program will spark meaningful political change very much remains to be seen.”
Edward Dunsworth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies, where he teaches courses in Canadian history, with an emphasis on migration, labour, and Canada in the world. His forthcoming book, Harvesting Labour: Tobacco and the Global Making of Canada’s Agricultural Workforce, uses a case study of tobacco farm labour in 20th century Ontario to examine the histories of farm labour and temporary foreign worker programs in Canada.
edward.dunsworth [at] mcgill.ca (English, Spanish)
Jill Hanley, Associate Professor, School of Social Work
“It is a critical question of both human rights and public health that migrant workers in Canada get access to all the same services and supports as other workers at this time. They need free access to healthcare, regardless of their status, and they need access to the income security measures that will allow them to self-isolate if necessary or to make ends meet if they lose their jobs in the economic downturn. These measures are important for the workers themselves, for their families who rely on their income, and for public health in general.”
Jill Hanley is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work and the Scientific Director of the Sherpa Research Institute on Migration, Health and Social Services. Her work focuses on closing the gaps between policies and practice concerning the social rights of migrant populations.
jill.hanley [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)
Chantal Westgate, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management
“For many people the gig economy is just an opportunity to make extra money. But according to studies, the gig economy is the primary source of income for one third of its workers. There are impacts, both mental and physical, resulting from being involved in the gig economy that range from underemployment , to a lack of control over one’s hours, to stress from working more than one job, and reduced well-being due to the uncertainties of working in this sector.”
Chantal Westgate teaches a variety of organizational behavior courses at the undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and executive training levels. She has provided custom business and executive training programs for McGill's International Executive Institute, Ubisoft, Air Canada, CN, Cirque Du Soleil, and more. She’s also been a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide.
chantal.westgate [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Artificial intelligence | Crowdsourcing and open science | Health statistics and data | Immune response | Testing | Treatments and drugs | Vaccine distribution and manufacturing
Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine
“Artificial intelligence and technologies could provide us substantial assistance in prevention, early detection, and management of COVID-19. This is the time we need to be more innovative than we have ever been and make the best use of AI and the available technology to improve the situation and add value. In my team, we are working with international collaborators to use the power of AI for early detection of COVID-19 among elderly people.”
Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, an academic member of Mila-Quebec AI Institute, and an affiliated scientist at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital. With an interdisciplinary background, she is interested in the development, evaluation, and implementation of clinical decision support tools and patient decision aids, as well as integrating human-centered AI tools in primary health care. She is leading several projects on use of AI for of diseases including early detection of COVID-19 among elderly people that have been funded by Roche Canada and Brocher Foundation of Switzerland.
samira.rahimi [at] mcgill.ca (English, Farsi, French, Turkish)
Crowdsourcing and open science
Guillaume Bourque, Full Professor, Department of Human Genetics
“In the context of the pandemic, our research team has started to work more closely with various public health units, including the Laboratoire de Santé Publique du Québec. We are supporting viral sequencing activities and associated analysis workflows. We are also responsible for the VirusSeq Data Portal aimed at collecting SARS-CoV-2 sequences across the country and associated non-personal contextual data. The goal is to make this rich collection of data available to the research community.”
Guillaume Bourque is a Full Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Canada Research Chair in Computational Genomics and Medicine. He is a project lead of the VirusSeq Data Portal, an open-source and open-access data portal for all Canadian SARS-CoV-2 sequences and associated non-personal contextual data.
guillaume.bourque [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Maziar Divangahi, Professor of Medicine and Strauss Chair in Respiratory Diseases, Department of Medicine
“It appears that SARS-CoV-2 will be with us for the long run, and translating discoveries in the laboratory to effective treatments and vaccines in the clinics is our only exit strategy from this pandemic. As the only hierarchy in science are results that stand the test of time and those that don’t, cross-fertilization of ideas between epidemiologists, immunologists, virologists, geneticists and many other research disciplines is critical in order to develop a roadmap to that exit.”
Maziar Divangahi is a Professor of Medicine and Strauss Chair in Respiratory Diseases in the Department of Medicine and Associate Director of the Program for Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). He is an internationally recognized pulmonary immunologist and the overarching focus of his research program is to investigate the regulatory mechanisms involved in innate and adaptive immunity against two major pulmonary pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, influenza virus (H1N1), and to understand the critical differences between protective and deleterious immune responses.
maziar.divangahi [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Richard Gold, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law
“Since the pandemic hit two years ago, researchers in government and private labs have accomplished seeming miracles: the development of highly-performing vaccines, an antiviral, and other treatments. It was public funding in various forms – research grants, direct funding, advance purchase orders, etc. – that drove these advances rather than the traditional intellectual property system. Despite this, firms exercised control over the vaccines and drugs in such a way that lower-income countries have not had access to them. Instead, they are forced to try to develop their own vaccines based on public knowledge, delaying access for years. Canada has had to pay billions for vaccines but still has no security of supply for when the next pandemic or health crisis hits. Yet, Canadian researchers are leading efforts to build open science public-private partnerships that could achieve this security. We just need to invest in it.”
Richard Gold is a James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Law, where he also serves as the Director of Centre for Intellectual Property Policy, and an Associate Member of the Department of Human Genetics. He teaches in the area of intellectual property, international intellectual property, comparative intellectual property, innovation policy and intellectual property management. He is among the leaders of Viral Interruption Medicines Initiative, that strives to retool the drug discovery and development process to rapidly develop new open science medicines to address pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, and rare and pediatric diseases.
richard.gold2 [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Jason Karamchandani, Associate Professor, Department of Pathology
“We will need more information to make evidence-based decisions. A significant portion of this information will come in the form of proper laboratory testing, both for the diagnosis of infection, and to determine evidence of immunity and other associate parameters, such as the duration of immunity.”
Jason Karamchandani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and a neuropathologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital. His research employs bio-informatic data to identify and to characterize biomarkers relevant to classification and prognosis of brain tumors and neuromuscular disorders.
jason.karamchandani [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Chen Liang, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine
"Only through concerted and aggressive efforts from the government, healthcare professionals, academia, industry, and public, can we control and end the COVID-19 pandemic, through rapid diagnosis, accessible vaccination, and effective treatment.”
Cheng Liang is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine, where he serves as the Director of the McGill Centre for Viral Diseases, and a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. His research focuses on host innate immune responses to viral infections including HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2.
chen.liang [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Selena Sagan, Associate Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology
“The research community has been extremely forthcoming with their data, journals are fast-tracking COVID-19 studies for publication, many researchers are teaming up to tackle the virus or support those who are participating in COVID-19 research, and the sheer pace at which the knowledge and data is being shared on a worldwide scale is really astonishing.”
Selena Sagan is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology. She holds the Canada Research Chair in RNA Biology and Viral Infections and her laboratory studies positive-strand RNA viruses of the Flaviviridae family (including Hepatitis C virus, Dengue virus and Zika virus) as well as negative-strand RNA viruses (including Respiratory Syncytial Virus). The main focus of her research program is RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions at the host-virus interface.
selena.sagan [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Health statistics and data
André Bilodeau, Adjunct Professor, Department of Family Medicine
“Public health measures can be difficult to understand due to the range of actions involved. The process of knowledge building takes a lot of time, from rough data, theorization, experimentation, confrontation of contradictory data and finally through consensus to create a solid core of knowledge scientists can then relay to the population – which explains the ‘work in progress’ nature of the general understanding of public health measures.”
André Bilodeau is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Course Director of Interprofessional Education (as part of the Physicianship Component) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Campus Outaouais. Before joining McGill, he served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Montfort Hospital and also acted as a consultant on interprofessional collaboration for the National Cancer Control Committee of the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services. From 2008 to 2018, he was also responsible for the francophone section of the Professionalism and Ethics curriculum at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa.
andre.bilodeau [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health
“Information about the epidemic is the cornerstone on which to build responses to the outbreak. Mathematical models can help understand epidemiological data, predict demand on health systems, and how best to mitigate the public health threat posed by COVID-19. More than ever, their results should be carefully appraised and interpreted in light of their inherent limitations.”
Mathieu Maheu-Giroux is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and an Associate Member of the Centre on Population Dynamics. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Population Health Modeling. His recent work has focused on impact evaluations of public health interventions, measurements and disease burden assessments, and behavioural interventions to control infectious diseases.
mathieu.maheu-giroux [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)
Jörg Fritz, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology
“The current COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance of understanding the functioning of our bodies’ immune system. Critics of vaccines can now see how lethal a world without a vaccine can be. It also highlights the fact that in a globalized society the development and distribution of vaccines for all infectious diseases is an essential cornerstone of a stable society.”
Jörg Fritz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and a primary member of the McGill University Research Centre on Complex Traits. His current research aims to better understand the immune response to COVID-19, defining how antiviral immunity functions at a molecular level, in order to develop tests to determine who is immune and inform vaccine development. He also previously worked at Intercell/Valneva and is a co-inventor of the vaccine adjuvant IC31, which currently is being tested in phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials of several vaccine formulations.
jorg.fritz [at] mcgill.ca (English, German)
Irah King, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
“The symptoms associated with COVID-19 range from mild cough to acute respiratory failure, but we still don’t know what factors determine disease severity. However, we do know that the vast microbial community living within the intestine, referred to as the microbiome, has a strong influence on our health. One of the most important functions of the microbiome is to regulate how the immune system responds to viruses, even those that infect our respiratory system. Because the composition of our gut microbiome can be changed by lifestyle choices such as diet, sleep patterns and drugs, it should not only be considered in how patients respond to current treatments for COVID-19, but should also be thought of as a target for interventions that limit disease severity.”
Irah King is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Canada Research Chair in Barrier Immunity. His current research builds on existing evidence that the gut microbiome affects our immune response to respiratory infection, that evidence of the disease shows up in fecal swabs and stool samples, and that COVID-19 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms often experience worse outcomes.
irah.king [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Caroline Wagner, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering
"We are exploring how factors that affect transmission rates (i.e., non-pharmaceutical interventions such as mask-wearing, contact rates between individuals, and climate-driven seasonality), the dynamics of adaptive immune responses, variant emergence, and vaccine availability (including sharing between countries) may impact the future timing and burden of COVID-19 cases.”
Caroline Wagner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering. Her research interests focus on understanding the role of biological fluids such as mucus in the transmission and pathogenesis of diseases. She studies these questions using a combination of experimental techniques as well as population-level and within-host models of infectious disease dynamics.
caroline.wagner [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Julian Daniel Sunday Willett, PhD candidate, Program in Quantitative Life Sciences
“While literature suggesting that vaccines offer less protection against the Omicron variant is disconcerting, the same evidence indicates that vaccines still provide a reasonable amount of defense against infection and, importantly, severe disease. A booster dose improves one's protection even further, making it a critical preventative measure for Canadians towards avoiding getting sick or dying from COVID-19. While there remain vaccine skeptics, extensive evidence has demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of this helpful tool.”
Julian Daniel Sunday Willett is a PhD candidate in Quantitative Life Sciences. His research is oriented on SARS-CoV-2 with his thesis hopefully leading to a COVID-19 predictive prognostic model integrating virus and host genomics along with epidemiological data.
julian.willett [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English)
Dominic Frigon, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
“Wastewater-based detection of the COVID-19 virus will allow us to monitor in real-time approximately 80% of the Quebec and Canadian populations at a fraction of the cost of doing the current targeted number individual tests. The monitoring would include asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic as well as symptomatic cases, which would allow a faster response of public health authorities. The technique could also allow us to have an unbiased sampling of the proportion of viral lineages circulating in the population, not only the ones associated from cases with the most severe symptoms.”
Dominic Frigon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, where he specializes in environmental engineering. His research aims at constructing mathematical models describing the dynamics and activity of microbial populations present in wastewater resource recovery systems. He is currently involved in the Canadian Coalition on Wastewater-Related COVID-19 Research and is leading a group of principal investigators from Quebec and members of the Quebec Water Management Research Centre, who is proposing a large project on wastewater-based epidemiology for COVID-19 and preparedness for following pandemics.
dominic.frigon [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
David Juncker, Full Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
“Frequent testing using COVID-19 rapid tests could have curbed the pandemic and spared us multiple lockdowns, saved thousands of lives, and billions of dollars by keeping the economy running. Rapid self-tests are now available in many European countries in pharmacies and supermarkets, while in Canada, we are still debating their use. Even as we are vaccinated, rapid testing will still be needed because of people refusing or not eligible for vaccination, waning immunity for the ones vaccinated, the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, and seasonality aligned with the one of influenza.”
David Juncker is a Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and a Principal Investigator at the McGill Genome Centre. His research covers new high throughput screening technologies, organ-on-a-chip systems, 3D printing and 3D bioprinting, and clinical and point-of-care diagnostic tests, and most recently, rapid tests for COVID-19.
david.juncker [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Sara Mahshid, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical gaps in diagnostic tests, highlighting the need for rapid and reliable tools in the hands of untrained individuals. Today, with the COVID-19 vaccine global rollout, this ideal testing device should detect the virus and specific antibodies in parallel to inform individuals of the level of the infection and the body’s immunity.”
Sarah Mahshid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and an Associate Member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has developed a prototype that can potentially simplify testing of SARS-Cov2 RNA via a colorimetric approach, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture tests, and providing faster results for diagnostics of COVID-19.
sara.mahshid [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Mark Trifiro, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine
"Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is typically used nowadays for diagnosing infections including viruses such as COVID-19. The updated PCR methodology introduces nanoparticle into the PCR reaction and a laser is employed to activate thermocycling a requirement for PCR. Not only does this new technique increases PCR efficiency allowing results in minutes rather than hours, it also allows the design of a battery operated compact portable PCR machine that can be used as a point of care device when the patient is first seen by a health professional for near instant diagnosis."
Mark Trifiro is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. In collaboration with Andrew Kirk and Miltiadis Paliouras from the Faculty of Engineering, he has developed a revolutionary methodology to construct a portable diagnostic device. The testing platform would give results in minutes and would help enormously in infection control management of the COVID-19 outbreak and future pathogenic viral epidemics.
mark.trifiro [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Treatments and drugs
Jean Bourbeau, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Divisions of Experimental Medicine and Respiratory Medicine
“The fight against COVID-19 must be waged on many fronts. Beyond vaccines to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, therapies are also needed. Immunomodulatory drugs to attenuate the COVID-19-associated cytokine storm may turn out to be an important advance in COVID-19 therapeutics.”
Jean Bourbeau is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation as part of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). He is currently involved in a randomized clinical trial of a new therapy to prevent complications of COVID-19. In general, his research focuses on the impact of respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
jean.bourbeau [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Nicole Ezer, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine and Respiratory Medicine
“We know the COVID-19 virus starts by multiplying in the nose and progresses downwards to the lower parts of the airways and lungs. We hope that targeting the site of viral replication with inhaled and nasal ciclesonide will reduce early viral replication and decrease severity of COVID-19 illness.”
Nicole Ezer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, an Associate Member of the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and junior scientist in the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. She is the Principal Investigator of CONTAIN, a clinical trial of ciclesonide (a nasal inhaler used for asthma and nasal rhinitis) to possibly prevent mild cases of COVID-19 from worsening.
nicole.ezer [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Jonathan Kimmelman, James McGill Professor, Department of Social Studies of Medicine and Director, Biomedical Ethics Unit
“Whether for COVID-19 or other diseases, vaccines and treatment development is slow and failure prone. Any treatments or vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 should be rigorously evaluated in clinical trials before deployment.”
Jonathan Kimmelman is a James McGill Professor in the Biomedical Ethics Unit and Department of Social Studies of Medicine. His research centers on the ethical, social, and policy challenges in testing novel medical technologies in human beings ("translational clinical research"). Current projects are investigating risk, prediction, validity and knowledge value across the trajectory of drug development.
jonathan.kimmelman [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Nicolas Moitessier, Full Professor, Department of Chemistry
“While vaccines are a central pillar of our efforts to end our current deadly phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, therapeutics offer a complementary approach with many distinct advantages. For example, oral therapeutics tend to be easy to store and administer and need only be given to the small minority of patients suffering more serious symptoms. In contrast, a large proportion of the population must be inoculated for vaccines to be effective and mRNA-based vaccines require complex logistics to maintain the cold chain, leading to enormous challenges in production, supply, administration and compliance. There is growing consensus that SARS-CoV-2 is too widespread to be eradicated completely and is instead on track to become globally endemic. Considering this state of emergency, researchers and health professionals are racing as never before, and the challenge is to provide results as soon as possible while not cutting corners.”
Nicolas Moitessier is a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry. His current research interests integrate computational chemistry and organic/medicinal chemistry, spanning from software development to synthetic methodology development. He is currently investigating the use of a combination of computer calculations and laboratory testing to rapidly identify and validate molecules that block an enzyme that is essential to the COVID-19 virus.
nicolas.moitessier [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Abhinav Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine
“There is controversy with regards to commonly prescribed cardiovascular drugs and their role in among patients with a COVID-19 infection. There are several on-going studies that will provide more data on the risk or benefit of these cardiovascular drugs in patients with COVID-19 infection, but there is much to be learned.”
Abhinav Sharma is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed to the Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine. His current research is trying to determine if a class of commonly-prescribed drugs used for patients with cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure contributes to outcomes among individuals with a COVID-19 infection, which would provide important guidance for managing heart disease and high blood pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
abhinav.sharma [at] mcgill.ca (English)
John White, Full Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology
“There is good evidence from laboratory research that vitamin D can have direct antiviral activity, notably against respiratory viruses. Clinical evidence links vitamin D deficiency to severity of disease in COVID-19 patients and there is some that vitamin D supplementation can improve disease outcome.”
John White is a Full Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology. As a molecular biologist geneticist who has made numerous broad-ranging contributions to the fields of gene regulation, his works on the molecular mechanisms of vitamin D has opened up the field of the study of vitamin D as an inducer of antimicrobial inmate immunity in humans.
john.white [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)
Vaccine distribution and manufacturing
Susan Kahn, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine
“Thrombosis (blood clots) has come to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. First as it became evident that COVID-19 patients, particularly those who require hospitalization, have an increased risk of developing severe blood clots. Also later as it emerged that an unusual type of blood clot associated with an immune reaction and a drop in platelet count was a rare occurrence after some COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Researchers continue to work to understand the mechanisms of both COVID-19-associated thrombosis and vaccine- associated thrombosis.”
Susan Kahn is a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine and the founder and director of the Centre of Excellence in Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Care. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Venous Thromboembolism and specializes on clinical trials of interventions to prevent, diagnose, treat, and improve outcomes of venous thromboembolism.
susan.kahn [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Amine A. Kamen, Full Professor, Department of Bioengineering
“Unprecedented mobilization of the global scientific community resulted in the design of multiple vaccine candidates using different technology platforms. Many safe and protective vaccines have been approved, and many others are aligned for approval. Now the challenge to meet global immunization will rely on cost-effective manufacturing and delivery of these vaccines wherever needed.”
Amine A. Kamen is a Full Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioprocessing of Viral Vaccines. His current research activities focus on uncovering mechanisms associated with cell production of viral vectors and viral vaccines; cell and metabolic engineering; process control and monitoring; and process analytical technologies of high yield productions of viral vectors for gene delivery and vaccination.
amine.kamen [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Marc Rodger, Harry Webster Thorp Professor of Medicine and Chair, Department of Medicine
“Vaccine induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) is an extremely rare but serious side effect associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The approximate 1:50,000-100,000 risk is comparable to a lifetime risk of being struck by lightning. Scientists, government officials and health leaders are working diligently to ensure that an individual’s risks of VITT are carefully balanced with their risks from COVID-19 infections in deciding which groups should have access to these vaccines.”
Marc Rodger is a Harry Webster Thorp Professor of Medicine and the Chair of the Department of Medicine, as well as the Physician-in-Chief at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). His research program is focused on venous thrombosis and thrombophilia with specific focus on thrombosis/thrombophilia in pregnancy and optimal management of venous thrombosis.
marc.rodger [at] mcgill.ca (English)
Brian Ward, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine
“Since the initial outbreaks, Canada, like almost all countries in the world, has struggled to control the novel SARS-COV-2 virus. Despite the development of several highly-effective vaccines, their distribution has not been even across the globe and the vast majority of doses have been delivered in wealthy nations. Several variants of the original virus with very different characteristics (e.g., transmissibility, pathogenicity, resistance to vaccine-induced protection, etc.) have emerged and continue to circulate in many parts of the world. In regions with high vaccine availability, the pandemic continues to do great damage among those who have chosen not to be vaccinated. Greater attention needs to be paid to equitable distribution of vaccines, to the issues around vaccine hesitancy and to the development of new vaccination strategies that can provide broad protection against the variants (e.g., booster doses, combination vaccines, etc.).”
Brian Ward is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine, an Associate Member of the Centre for Host-Parasite Interactions and a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). His research focuses on the development and evaluation of novel virus-like particle vaccines (e.g. influenza, measles, etc.) in both young and elderly subjects, international health issues with a particular focus on factors that influence HIV transmission, virus-nutritional interactions, and the development of new diagnostic tests for parasitic diseases.
brian.ward [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)