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The Charter @ 25

The country's deep thinkers gather in Montreal this week for a conference marking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms' 25th birthday on April 17. Supreme Court judges from Canada and the U.S., constitutional experts and even the backroom boys who helped draft the law have been invited. Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, is calling the event a "celebration," a review of both the triumphs and questions arising from this pivotal piece of legislation.

Published: 13 Feb 2007

New genes point to diabetes risk

The genes associated with a risk of developing type 2 diabetes have been identified. The research, published online in Nature, is the first time the genetic makeup of any disease has been mapped in such detail. It should enable scientists to develop a genetic test to show an individual their likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Rob Sladek and Constantin Polychronakos from McGill, along with scientists from Imperial College, London, and other international institutions, believe their findings explain up to 70% of the genetic background of type 2 diabetes.

Published: 12 Feb 2007

Brain, music and sound research centre

Science Magazine looks at the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research (BRAMS), a joint project of McGill and Université de Montréal. The members of BRAMS, including McGill's Robert Zatorre, Université de Montréal's Isabelle Peretz and nine other Montreal-based lead investigators, aim to explore music's mysteries. They seek to understand how humans cooperate to perform together, how children and adults learn to play music, and the relationship between music and language. "BRAMS will allow us to use music as a portal into the most complex aspects of human brain function," says Dr. Zatorre.

Published: 12 Feb 2007

Bitter pills

The decades-long war between brand-name and generic drug manufacturers shows no signs of abating. But with a rapidly aging population and the spectre of new diseases on the horizon, there's new pressure to find a solution soon that can both motivate innovative research and sustain affordable drug prices. McGill's Richard Gold, director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and a professor in IP and common-law property, is interviewed for this story in the Canadian Bar Association's National Magazine.

Published: 10 Feb 2007

Reaching for stars: Juggling ambition, angst

Victoria Kaspi laughs at the prediction beside her name in the high school yearbook. "My ambition was to be a famous scientist and mother of six." At 39, she's at least halfway there. An astrophysicist at McGill, Kaspi's groundbreaking research tracking pulsar stars has won her many accolades, most recently the CAP Herzberg medal and Steacie Prize, national awards for research excellence.

Published: 6 Feb 2007

U.S. lags on family-oriented job rules

The United States lags far behind virtually all wealthy countries with regard to family-oriented workplace policies such as maternity leave, paid sick days and support for breast-feeding, according to a new study released by Harvard and McGill University researchers. The study, by lead author Jody Heymann, founder of the Harvard-based Project on Global Working Families and director of McGill's Institute for Health and Social Policy, says, "More countries are providing the workplace protections that millions of Americans can only dream of."

Published: 1 Feb 2007

Harper government too cosy with U.S.

The Harper government is snuggling up too closely to the United States at the expense of Canada's influence in the rest of the world, former prime minister Joe Clark, professor at the Centre for Developing Areas Studies, told a McGill audience on Wednesday. "Mr. Harper and his colleagues are moving away from the central elements of the foreign policy that has been a strength of Canada under both Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments."

Published: 1 Feb 2007

Breast cancer: McGill finds new path

A team directed by Michel L. Tremblay at the Cancer Centre at McGill has uncovered the role played by a gene associated with the propagation of breast cancer in two of five affected women. Their study, published in the magazine Nature Genetics, shows that halting the activity of this gene in mice predisposed to cancer slowed the growth of — and in some cases, prevented — tumors.

Published: 29 Jan 2007

Quebec's low tuition has failed as a policy

A strongly worded editorial in the Globe and Mail states that "Quebec's policy is a noble failure. The tuition freeze would melt away if ever the warm light of reason were shone on it." McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum was interviewed for the editorial.

Published: 29 Jan 2007

Size matters, when you're a bird

McGill biology professor Louis Lefebvre and former McGill post-doctoral fellow Daniel Sol conclude that having a large brain relative to body size improves a bird's chances of survival, in a study published in the most recent issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B. "It's the first time that there is an advantage for having a big brain that's been demonstrated," Lefebvre said.

Published: 22 Jan 2007

Antidepressants may raise bone risk

Daily use of certain antidepressants doubles the risk of bone fractures in adults 50 and older, a McGill study suggests. The new research, led by Dr. David Goltzman, a professor of medicine and physiology and director of the McGill Centre for Bone and Periodontal Research, seems to support earlier studies. The antidepressants studied are a class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, which includes such drugs as Prozac and Paxil.

Published: 22 Jan 2007

McGill calls for end to 12-year tuition freeze

Quebec politicians must rise above partisan interests and agree to end the 12-year freeze on university tuition fees immediately, says McGill University principal Heather Munroe-Blum. The principal presented before the Commission de l'éducation de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec on January 16.

Published: 17 Jan 2007

One of the great success stories of 20th-century medicine

Severe cases of congenital heart disease are on the rise among North American adults, but researchers say that probably means growing numbers of infants born with the condition are surviving into adulthood. "This is a real success story," said Dr. Ariane Marelli, lead author of a new study on the trend and director of the McGill Adult Unit for Congenital Heart Disease Excellence.

Published: 9 Jan 2007

A prisoner of her own body

An inspirational story on Helene Pelletier, a patient at McGill's Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), who is struggling with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS). After 18 months with the disease she is resolved to use the time she has left to make a difference. Pelletier has raised money to create a clinical fellowship at the Neuro and is planning a second benefit this year.

Published: 6 Jan 2007

Music of the hemispheres

A rock producer turned McGill professor, Daniel Levitin is delving deep into the workings of the mind to see how a pop song uses emotions to embed itself in your memory. Clive Thompson of the New York Times reports.

Published: 31 Dec 2006