Congratulations! Dr. Hamed Najafabadi named the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow

Source: McGill Newsroom

Hamed Najafabadi, an assistant professor in McGill’s Department of Human Genetics, and Stuart Trenholm, assistant professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute, have been selected as 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows – a coveted distinction awarded to highly promising early-career scientists from the United States and Canada. Past recipients include towering figures in the history of science, such as physicists Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann and game theorist John Nash. Forty-five fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective field.

The fellowships are open to scholars in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics. Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Winners receive a two-year, $65,000 fellowship to further their research.

The Sloan Foundation announced this year’s Fellows on and in an advertisement in the New York Times on Feb. 15.

A look at McGill’s two new Sloan Research Fellows and their work:

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Epigenetic alteration of a vitamin B12 gene shines new light on our understanding of rare diseases

Reported by EurekAlert and AAAS on Jan 30, 2018  

Rare hereditary recessive diseases were thought to be expressed in off-spring only when both parents carry a mutation in the causal gene, but a new study is changing this paradigm. An international research team led by scientists at the University of Lorraine in France along with McGill University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Canada discovered a new cause of a rare condition known as cblC, that they named “epi-cblC”. They reported it in patients from Europe and the United States. Patients who have cblC are not able to process *vitamin B12, leading to severe health problems.

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Lung cancer: the numbers don’t lie

Fact: according to statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society, lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women in Canada. That’s why this month, the Goodman Cancer Research Centre – as part of a new video series – is highlighting lung cancer, and the work of Dr. Logan Walsh, Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Genetics.

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Funding, Jobs and Other Announcements:

 Jobs and Other Opportunities:

Awards – Call for Nominations:

  • McGill Department of Human Genetics Department: 2017-2018 Clinical and Research Faculty Teaching Awards. Deadline: Monday, May 07, 2018.
  • McGill GPS Graduate Mobility Award 2018: Participate in international research collaboration. Application on a rolling basis.

Funding Opportunities:

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April 2018

  • April 25, 2018 at 4:00pm – Leanne de Kock’s Ph.D. Seminar entitled“DICER1 Syndrome – new mutations, novel phenotypes and unexpected mechanisms”. Supervisor: Dr. William Foulkes. To be held in the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building, Room 2/36.
  • April 30, 2018 at 3:00pm – Theresa Farhat’s Ph.D. Oral Defence entitled “Phosphorylation of αNAC by DNA-PKcs in osteoblast differentiation”. Supervisor: Dr. Rene St-Arnaud.  To be held in the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building, Room W315-F.
  • May 02, 2018 at 4:00pm –  Catherine Argyriou’s Ph.D. Seminar entitled “Developing Therapies for Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorders of the Zellweger Spectrum”. Supervisor: Dr. Nancy Braverman. To be held at the Glen Site, Room EM1.3509.
  • May 08, 2018 at 4:00pm – McGill’s most accomplished women academics share advice on advancing a career in research. You are invited to attend “In Her Own Words: Stories from Distinguished Careers”. To be held at the McGill Faculty Club, 3450 Rue McTavish. 3rd floor, Old Billiard Room, Montreal QC. Register here by May 01, 2018.
  • May 09, 2018 at 4:00 pm – Shamisa Honarmand’s Ph.D. Seminar entitled “Elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of Leigh Syndrome French Canadian disease”Supervisor: Dr. Eric Shoubridge. To be held in the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building, Room W315-F.
  • May 22, 2018 at 3:00 pmVicki Leung’s Ph.D. Seminar entitled “The role of the planar cell polarity protein Vangl2 in retinal axon guidance”. Supervisor: Dr. Philippe Gros. To be held in the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building, Room 2/36.
  • June 20, 2018 at 4:00pm – Mona Wu’s Ph.D. Seminar entitled “In vitro modeling of DICER1-linked tumours”. Supervisors: Drs. William Foulkes and Mark Fabian. To be held in the Strathcona Anatomy and Dentistry Building, Room W315-F.

May 24: WIN4Science Forum – You’re Invited!

WIN4Science is an initiative started in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics that has been running a seminar series to create awareness of the challenges that women face in the Life Sciences. WIN4Science wants to further support women in Life Sciences by creating skills training workshops and fundraising to financially support female PhD students and postdocs. To direct such activities towards the greatest needs, the WIN4Science Committee would like to hear back from the McGill Life Sciences community. 

The Win4Science Forum will take place on May 24th, 2018 from 8:30-2:30 at the Faculty Club. It will be run using the World Café method where selected questions will be discussed at each table and participants move around. Challenges, opportunities and solutions will be discussed at each level, i.e. graduate students, postdocs and professors. 

Win4Science website:

Win4Science Forum registration:


C3G: Bioinformatics Workshops

C3G, a bioinformatics development and analysis platform with a node at McGill will be organizing bioinformatics workshops aimed at graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and researchers in Montréal to teach basic bioinformatics concepts and enable researchers to analyze their own genomics experiments (ChIP-Seq, RNA-Seq, WGS, …).

We would be grateful if you could help us get a better understanding of community needs by, can you please take 5 minutes to filling out the following survey (12 quick questions) Survey

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can contact me at


REGISTER NOW!: Human Genetics Research Day: May 17, 2018

This year’s Human Genetics Research Day will be held on May 17, 2018. Talks and poster presentations will not only be offered by M.Sc./Ph.D. students, but have been opened up to Postdoctoral Fellows as well.

Keynote Speaker: Nancy J. Cox, Ph.D.

Mary Phillips Edmonds Gray Professor of Genetics
Director, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute
Director, Division of Genetic Medicine
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Talk entitled: “Using Biobanks to Make New Kinds of Discoveries”

The full day’s events, starting at 8:30am will be held in the Charles Martin Amphitheatre, Room 504, McIntyre Medical Building (3655 Sir William Osler), boxed lunches will be provided, followed by a wine & cheese after the keynote speaker. Complete program to be released in May 2018. 

Registration Deadline: May 3rd, 2018

Registration by the May 3rd deadline is mandatory in order to receive a lunch ticket and ALL students are strongly advised to attend.



June 13-14: Bioinformatics of Genomic Medicine workshop in Montreal

McGill University Genome Quebec Innovation Centre along with the Canadian Bioinformatics Workshop series, are organizing a workshop on Bioinformatics of Genomic Medicine here in Montreal on June 13-14. Topics include the identification of disease variants and patient classification.

Early registration is until April 26 and there are opportunities to get an award to cover the registration fee. See link or flyer attached:


5-Week Courses on Writing and Presenting at the Graduate Level

This spring, Graphos is offering 5-week, pass/fail courses designed to help students develop clear and coherent manuscripts and oral presentations.

Cornerstones of Academic Writing (CEAP 642)
Fundamentals of Academic Presentations (CEAP 652)
Literature Review 1: Summary and Critique (CEAP 661)

If English is not your first language and you are new to academic writing in English, please consider these specialised courses:

               Strategies for Effective Communication in English (CESL 631)
               Fundamentals of Academic Writing in English (CESL 641)
               Pronunciation for Effective Communication (CESL 651)

Doctoral students and many Master’s students can take the courses without extra fees, thanks to the University’s tuition sponsorship program.

If you have questions about these courses or other Graphos and McGill Writing Centre offerings (workshops, peer writing groups, writing retreats, tutorial service), please contact


SCS French Credit Courses for Graduate Students

The School of Continuing Studies offers French credit courses as part of the French for Professional Communication Part-Time Program. This program is especially designed for people who need French for their work and who hope to use French as an important tool or catalyst for their careers.


All Graduate students that are new to the program, and wish to register for the Spring 2018 semester must take an Entrance Placement Test prior to registering for a particular course.

Please click the following link to reserve your spot at the next Entrance Placement Test on April 9th:


Returning students can now register directly on Minerva, or contact our department if you encounter any registration restrictions.

All students enrolled in Graduate-level programs (excluding International students who are Qualifying, classified as  Special or Visiting , or in  Certificate or Diploma programs; and ALL self-funded programs such as MBA) at the time of registration are eligible for the Quebec Tuition Fee Rate when registering for any French credit courses.  See list of exclusions at

Please note that, as an international student, you won’t be eligible for Quebec tuition fee if you are completing your degree this spring

For more details about the Certificate Program, visit:, or the interactive timetable, to help you plan your schedule.


Upcoming Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives events

Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL) has some exciting upcoming events:


CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: May 17, 2018: Human Genetics Research Day

Dear HG Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows:

Please note this year’s Human Genetics Research Day will be held on May 17th, 2018 and is open to not only M.Sc./Ph.D. students, but to Postdoctoral Fellows, as well.

Details regarding the submission of abstracts can be found here.

Deadline for abstract submission is April 06th, 2018

Registration details will follow in a separate email in April.


May 16-18: Montreal World Health Organization Simulation (MonWHO 2018)

The Montreal World Health Organization Simulation (MonWHO) is a conference that aims to promote a macroscopic perspective of global health, and to draw attention towards the social, cultural, ethnic, economic, and political factors of international relations that affect the global health care system. In 2007, MonWHO executives hoped to create a conference where students from any field of study could collaborate together to broaden their perspectives of international health.

This year’s conference features 9 unique, action-filled crisis committees. Committee delegates’ main mission will be to produce a delegation paper to be approved in order to manage the crisis while navigating the complex delegations’ politics.

The committee topics are as follows:

  • Crisis 1: HIV/AIDS Crisis, 1980s
  • Crisis 2: Tuberculosis and Antibiotic Resistance
  • Crisis 3: Malaria in Africa Today
  • Crisis 4: The Black Plague
  • Crisis 5: Cholera
  • Crisis 6: The Obesity Epidemic
  • Crisis 7: Le Désastre de Fukushima (French/English bilingual committee. Delegates may debate in their preferred language, fluency in both French and English is required)
  • Crisis 8: The Day Humanity Was Almost Wiped Out – Mystery Epidemic
  • Crisis 9: The Spanish Flu

Delegate registration is now open for the 2018 conference, which will take place on March 16th-18th at the Delta Hotel in Downtown Montreal.

Registration deadline: March 1st at 11:59PM

For complete registration information, please see the Theme Guide and visit the MonWHO 2018 website.

For more info contact:


May 08-11: 7th International Symposium on Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Presented by the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Foundation in collaboration with the Program in Cancer Genetics at McGill University, this biennial Symposium brings together some of the finest researchers and world-renowned experts from Canada, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Israel and Europe to present their most current research findings and latest innovations in clinical care related to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. To be held on May 8 – 11, 2018 at Centre Mont-Royal, Montréal, Québec, Canada

The Symposium includes sessions on:

·        BRCA biology and gene variants;
·        Molecular genetics and pathology of inherited forms of breast and gynecological cancers;
·        DNA Repair in the clinic: origins, diagnosis and outcomes;
·        Prevention of HBOC;
·        Treatment of HBOC;
·        New challenges in Genetic Counselling;
·        New and old genes for breast cancer;
·        Modifying, classifying and assessing risk for HBOC;
·        Special Round Table: BRCA1/2 clinical practice – global perspectives;
·        Genomic analysis of inherited breast and ovarian cancer: From gene discovery to precision medicine and public health;
·        and an Introductory Session for Newcomers to the Field.

Plus Special Interest Group Discussions on:
·        Moderate Risk Genes: Risks, counselling and outcomes
·        Next Generation Tumor Sequencing: beyond tumor genotyping
·        Surgery for HBOC and its aftermath
·        Next Generation Genetic Counseling – Tools for Challenging Psychosocial Cases

For more information, please visit


Weekly Puzzle 

Anacrostic Puzzle 3


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