Ovarian cancer patients should all be offered genetic testing

Dr. Patricia Tonin

There are 17,000 Canadian women living with ovarian cancer. It is estimated that this year in Canada, 2,600 women will be newly diagnosed with this disease. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer for women and is the most fatal women’s cancer. Ovarian Cancer Canada: http://www.ovariancanada.org/about-ovarian-cancer

The study “A targeted analysis identifies a high frequency of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers in women with ovarian cancer from a founder population” was co-authored by Moria H. Belanger and Lena Dolman of McGill University; Suzanna L. Arcand of the RI-MUHC; Zhen Shen and George Chong of the Jewish General Hospital; Anne-Marie Mes-Masson and Diane Provencher of Centre de recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal and Institut du cancer de Montréal; and Patricia N Tonin of the RI-MUHC and McGill University. The findings, published in the Journal of Ovarian Research, have clinical implications both for the treatment of this disease and for the screening of individuals at-risk.

“Our findings suggest that all women with the most common form of ovarian cancer should be offered genetic testing as this would help identify carrier women in their families and allow health professionals to offer risk reducing strategies for their relatives,” says lead author Dr. Patricia Tonin, Associate Leader of the Cancer Research Program at the Centre for Translational Biology of the RI-MUHC. “Currently, only women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer are offered genetic testing, and if they happen to carry BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations they are given cancer prevention strategies to reduce their risk for these cancers.”

Dr. Tonin and her colleagues examined more than 400 tissue samples from a unique population of French Canadian women with ovarian cancer that were not selected for their family history of cancer. Analysis revealed that 19 per cent of women with the most common and lethal form of ovarian cancer carry mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, which is considerably higher than the previous estimates of 4 to 11 per cent.

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Bravo Gala Celebrates Researchers at McGill

Photo: Owen EganPhoto: Owen Egan

McGill applauded the achievements in research excellence on the 10th anniversary of event, Bravo. This gala evening, honoured over 75 prize winners from across a full range of research disciplines, who received notable prizes, awards and scholarships in the year 2014.We congratulate all the honorees from the Faculty of Medicine!

Simon Gravel, Department of Human Genetics: Honoured for receiving the Alfred Sloan Research Fellowship

Gustavo Turecki, Department of Psychiatry: Honoured for receiving Découvertes de l’année

Loydie Jerome-Majewska, Departments of Pediatrics and Human Genetics: Honoured for receiving the Haile T. Debas Prize

Brent Richards, Departments of Medicine, Human Genetics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics: Honoured for receiving the Jody Ginsberg Youth Investigator Award

Philippe Gros, Department of Biochemistry: Honoured for receiving the McLaughlin Medal

William Foulkes, Departments of Medicine, Human Genetics and Oncology: Honoured for receiving the O. Harold Warwick Award

Guy Rouleau, MNI, Hopsital Department of  Neurology and Neurosurgery: Honoured for receiving Prix d’excellence du Collège des médecins du Québec

Constantin Polychronakos, Department of Pediatrics: Honoured for receiving the Royal Society of Canada Fellowships

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Award winner of the Fonds Santé (Leora Witkowski and Jian Carrot-Zhang)


PhD students in Human Genetics, McGill University

Award-winning publication:

Germline and somatic SMARCA4 mutations characterize small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type


“Small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT) is the most common undifferentiated type of ovarian cancer diagnosed in women below the age of 40. While it is rare, with only ~400 cases described in the English literature, it is a very aggressive disease, with 5-yr survival rates for early stage diagnoses at 33%. Prior to our publication, the histogenesis of the disease remained elusive, and publications discussing the histogenesis of SCCOHT were merely speculative. Our publication confirmed for the first time that SCCOHT is a monogenic disorder and that deleterious germline mutations in the chromatin remodelling gene SMARCA4 predispose to the development of SCCOHT. Our discovery provides women with a family history of early onset ovarian cancer with the option of being tested for germline mutations in SMARCA4, and provides patients with an answer as to why the cancer developed.” in Nature Genetics 46, 438-443 (2014)

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Appointment of Dr. Gustavo Turecki as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill

GustavoTurecki  2014

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Dr. Gustavo Turecki as Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, effective March 1, 2015. Dr. Turecki succeeds Dr. Mimi Israël, who led the department with great distinction since 2007. We take this opportunity to offer our sincere thanks to Dr. Israël for her outstanding leadership throughout her term, and we wish her continued success.

Dr. Turecki is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill, where he currently is Associate Chair of Research and Academic Affairs. He has been an Attending Psychiatrist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute since 1999, and he is also Director of the McGill Group for Suicide Studies, as well as head of its Depressive Disorders Program and Co-Director of the Douglas Bell-Canada Brain Bank. In addition, he is the Director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) funded provincial network on suicide and mood disorders.

Dr. Turecki studied at Escola Paulista de Medicina in Brazil, earning an MD, as well as a Masters of Science in Psychiatric Epidemiology/Genetics. He completed his Psychiatry residency at São Paulo General Hospital in Brazil, and he obtained a PhD in Neuroscience (Genetics) at McGill. He is a Fellow of several scientific and professional organizations, has served as President of the International Academy of Suicide Research, and currently sits on Council for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

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Funding, Jobs, and Other Announcements:

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April 30 – May 14, 2015

  • April 30, 2015 at 2:00pm – McGill Complex Traits Group presents seminar series entitled “Lessons from CD11cdnR mice – A mouse model with TGFB-resistant innate cell compartment. To be held in the Stewart Biology Building, Room N2/2.
  • May 01, 2015  - Medical Genetics Academic Half Day – Cancelled.
  • May 04, 2015 at 1:00pm – HGEN 674: Reasearch Internship in Genomics Policy, presents a seminar by Ph.D. candidate, Mihaela Pupavac, entitled “The RaDiCAL Project: Examining the Right Not to Know of Participants”. To be held in the Stewart Biology Building, Room W4/12.
  • May 05, 2015 at 1:00pmResearch Ethics Workshop Series presented by Ma’n H. Zawati entitled “Return of Research Results and Incidental Findings. To be held in the McLennan Library Building, Room MS-74.
  • May 8, 2015 at 8:00am - 15th Scientific Reunion of the Association des médecins généticiens du Québec entitled “Nouvelles technologies en contexte prénatal : dépistage, diagnostic et imagerie” to be held at 3407 Rue Peel, Best Western Hotel Ville Marie.
  • May 13, 2015 at 4:00pm - McGill Complex Traits Group  presents workshop series entitled “Inflammation at Barrier Surfaces – From Bench to Bedside“. To be held in McIntyre Medical Sciences Building, Martin Amphitheater, Room 504.
  • May 21, 2015 at 8:30am – Human Genetics Research Day 2015 (schedule TBA). To be held in the McIntyre Medical Building, Palmer Amphitheater (Room 522).
  • May 28, 2015 - 2015 McGill Systems Biology Symposia: Topic Personalized Medicine of Cancer to be held in the Faculty Club.

2015 CIACCO Symposium – May 22, Eastman QC

The CIACCO 2015 symposium on “Cytokines in Inflammation, Aging, CanCer and Obesity” is now open for registration. The focus of the CIACCO symposium is to discuss the latest research on physiological functions, pathological roles, regulatory mechanisms and therapeutic targeting of cytokines and cytokine signaling pathways in health and disease.

The major themes of the symposium will be:
1) Cytokines in Inflammation and immunity
2) Cytokines in Aging and Senescence
3) Cytokines in Cancer initiation, progression and control
4) Cytokines in Obesity and metabolism

To be held on May 22 2015 at Le Foyer Rond, Eastman in the picturesque Eastern Townships region.

Registration: Go at http://fourwav.es/ciacco15 to register and submit your abstracts. Create a Fourwaves account and then subscribe to the symposium. Deadline: May 1st, 2015

Abstract submission: After you are done with the registration on Fourwaves, you can submit your abstract. Deadline: May 1st, 2015

2015 CIACCO Flyer


5th Cytometry & Microscopy Symposium, June 18-20, Toronto

The Canadian Cytometry and Microscopy Association Organizing Committee is pleased to invite you the 2015 Symposium: Technologies to Treatments. CCMA symposium 2015 will cover many aspects of flow cytometry and  cellular imaging technologies. There will be a focus on workshops that provide key information on how to practically implement these technologies. A keynote presentation by Dr. François Jean – a world leader in infectious disease research from the University of British Columbia – and several plenary talks from leading researchers in the field, will put these technologies in context and inspire attendees to apply the technologies in their own research projects and programs.

Program available for download

The symposium will be held June 18-20, 2015 in Toronto, ON at the Chelsea Hotel and at the Peter Gilgan Centre at SickKids.

Key Dates:
October 2014: Registration opening
April 30, 2015: Early bird
 rates end
April 30, 2015: Poster Submission deadline
June 18, 2015: Core Facility Managers’ Meeting
June 19-20, 2015: CCMA Symposium
or more information, please contact ccma.accm@gmail.com.


2015-16: HGSS Call for Nominations

To All M.Sc./Ph.D. Candidates & Postdocs,

HGSS Executives 2015-16: Call for Nominations: Nominations are now being accepted for HGSS Executive Positions from April 10 – May 8, 2015.

Executive positions and duties are available here (under section 4.4).

Please nominate yourself or others here.

Elections will take place from May 15-29, 2015. The elected will be announced at the Annual HG BBQ to be held in June 2015.


Community Engagement Fellowships in First Nation communities – FUNDED opportunities for graduate students

Students from McGill University are invited to apply for a 2015 Engage North/IC-IMPACTS Community Engagement Fellowships opportunity at Pangnirtung.

The program is specifically designed to attract Masters or Doctoral students interested in working with a First Nations community in northern Canada this summer. The Fellowships will increase the awareness of challenges found in smaller communities while providing an opportunity for the student (Fellow) to contribute their technical skills and knowledge to create applied solutions with the community. The Fellows also learn first-hand the cultural knowledge and traditions from community members of the Pangnirtung First Nation people in northern Alberta. Flights, accommodation and monthly stipends are provided.

Engage North, a program of the University of Alberta, and IC-IMPACTS are sponsoring the Community Engagement Fellowships, which provide real-world experiences for students to identify and implement long-term, community-based solutions in conjunction with host communities. For more information on the Fellowships, please visit Engage North/IC-IMPACTS Community Engagement Fellowships.

All eligible graduate students from McGill are encouraged to apply.

Application deadline:  Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

For more information: Contact


Workshops on Social Science Research

Want to spend the day with one of Canada’s leading public figures? Interested in learning new qualitative or quantitative research techniques? The Workshops on Social Science Research (WSSR) are short, intensive learning experiences and networking opportunities that allow you to develop your critical thinking skills, make new contacts, and succeed as future decision makers. The WSSR offer over 35 workshops led by prominent politicians, public servants and academics from Canada and abroad in the areas of public policy, democratic governance, and research methodology.

Participants can attend these workshops for as little as $50 per day!

Download a copy of the workshops program here: WSSR Program

Find out more about the credit course (the course codes for the WSSR this year are POLI489, POLI683, and POLI815) here: Register for Credit or the non-credit option here: Register for Non-Credit

For more information: Contact


Career Coaching  - White Consulting LLC

Thinking about transitioning from academia to the industry? If so, White Consulting, LLC is here to help. Spearheaded by two Harvard Medical School-trained PhD research scientists who themselves went through this transition, Colin White and Anthony Collmann have career coach many scientists who chose to explore non-academic options.

Their team uses a personalized approach which allows their clients to find and secure opportunities that complement their skill sets. Noha Gerges, an HGEN Alumnus used their services while writing her PhD thesis and highly recommends them to anyone not only looking to tailor their CVs to non-academic positions but to those also looking to improve their overall career-related profile.

For more information, visit the website at http://www.whiteconsultingllc.com or

Contact Noha directly if you have any questions at noha@whiteconsultingllc.com.


2015 NCTU Taiwan Elite Internship Program

The National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) Taiwan Elite Internship Program is currently recruiting Master or PhD students from partner universities and other renowned foreign universities to do research (at least 2 months) at NCTU.
Students will be conducting research on either a small independent project or assisting an ongoing project in the host laboratories.

Qualified students would be offered 1) free round-trip economy class flight ticket from their home country to Taiwan and 2) additional NTD 5,000 scholarship (including tax) for the first month in NCTU.

3rd Round: Application Deadline: 8th June, 2015 ; Research Starting Dates: 3rd Aug.,2015 onward

The application documents are accessible on the website for downloading.



Technical Electives – Academic Year 2015-2016

The Department of Bioengineering is offering the students enrolled in the Department of Human Genetics with the following eight elective courses for the Academic Year 2015-2016:

  • BIEN 210: Electrical and Optical Properties of Biological Tissues (Instructor: A. Ehrlicher)
  • BIEN 310: Introduction to Biomolecular Engineering (Instructor: Y. Xia)
  • BIEN 330: Introduction to Tissue Engineering (Instructor: J. Kinsella)
  • BIEN 340: Transport Processes in Biological Systems (Instructor: A. Kamen)
  • BIEN 462: Engineering Principles in Physiological Systems (Instructor: G. Mitsis)
  • BIEN 510: Applications of Nanoparticles in the Biomedical Sciences (Instructor: J. Kinsella)
  • BIEN 520: High Throughput Bioanalytical Devices (Instructor: D. Nicolau)
  • BIEN 530: Imaging and Bioanalytical Instrumentation (Instructor: A. Hendricks)
  • BIEN 550: Biomolecular Devices (Instructor: A. Hendricks)
  • BIEN 570: Active Mechanics in Biology (Instructor: A. Ehrlicher)


Canadian GE3LS and Health Services & Policy Research Conference

The Canadian GE3LS and Health Services & Policy Research Conference: Integrated Approaches to Opportunities and Challenges in the Genomics Era will address the integration of new genomic technologies into the healthcare system, at the level of practice and policy, including implications for patients and families, clinicians, health care systems, and society.

To be held at Pinnacle Hotel, Vancouver Harbourfront from April 18-21

Program Outline

Opportunities for Trainees

Conference Posters

Official Website


2015 – AMGQ Annual Conference

Theme for the 2015 Association des médecins généticiens du Québec (AMGQ) annual conference is “New Technologies in the Prenatal context: Screening, Diagnosis and Imaging”

To be held at Best Western Ville-Marie Hotel, 3407 Rue Peel, Montreal  on May 8, 2015

Program Details

Registration Form: Deadline – April 24, 2015

Abstract Submission Form: Deadline – April 16, 2015


4th Global Congress – American Society of Mechanical Engineers

ASME 4th Global congress on Nanoengineering for Medicine and Biology will focus on nanoscale materials, methods and devices for the study of biology and the treatment of diseases.

To be held in Minneapolis, MN from April 19 – 22, 2015

Further details


RegistrationDeadline – April 16, 2015 


2015 – Canadian Consortium for Humanitarian Training (CCHT)

CCHT is pleased to announce that the 2015 Edition of the Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training Program will be held from May 4-17 in Montreal, Quebec.

This exciting, multi-disciplinary training program that includes in class learning and a 3-day field simulation, will provide students and mid-career professionals with the core humanitarian competencies that are essential for anyone involved in disaster response and/or humanitarian assistance.

Participants will learn about the background and context of humanitarian emergencies, international humanitarian law, doctrines and operating procedures for technical areas. Instructed by a community of humanitarians and faculty from around the globe the program also offers an occasion to join an exciting network of humanitarians.

 Details and contact information


2015 – European Research Projects on Rare Diseases, Joint Transnational Call

Three Canadian institutes: CIHR Institute of Genetics, Genome Canada, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé are jointly participating to provide Canadian researchers an opportunity to ‘work with their European colleagues to build an interdisciplinary, multilateral research project based on complementarities and sharing of expertise, with a clear translational research approach’.

Further details

These international collaborations will help in coordinating the research efforts in the field of rare diseases and to implement the objectives of the International Rare Disease Research Consortium (IRDiRC).


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