A surprise advance in the treatment of adult cancers

Researchers at the RI-MUHC have made a discovery that could improve care for about 15% of patients with head and neck cancer linked to alcohol and tobacco use

Simon Papillon-Cavanagh, McGill University PhD candidate, Dre Nada Jabado and Jacek Majewski, PhD


A team of researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) has found an epigenetic modification that might be the cause of 15% of adult cancers of the throat linked to alcohol and tobacco use. This is a first in the field of epigenetics and the researchers are hopeful that the discovery can blaze a path in the development of new, targeted, more effective treatments that could arise over the next few years.

“This discovery was absolutely unexpected since it seemed highly improbable that the kind of alterations of the epigenome that we had previously found in other types of tumours in children and young adults could also target an epithelial tumour like throat cancer that occurs only in adults,” explains Dr. Nada Jabado, a researcher at the RI-MUHC and one of the principal authors of the study published in Nature Genetics.

Head and neck cancers, also called oropharyngeal cancers or throat cancer often have devastating consequences. Standard treatments involve surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the side effects of these treatments are significant and relapses are common. That’s why oncologists are searching to develop more effective treatments that will be less harmful and have fewer deleterious effects. The discovery of this epigenetic modification opens new treatment possibilities. In fact, some promising drug molecules are already on the market for other illnesses and could possibly be tested for head and neck cancers as well as other cancers like multiple myeloma and lung cancer.

Dr. Jabado, who is also a pediatric hemato-oncologist, has hopes that this discover will have positive repercussions for pediatric cancers as well. “Now that we’ve identified this cohort of patients, we can move quite quickly since in the case of adults, as opposed to children, there are more patients and lots of clinical trials. The medicines could then be tested on children afterward.”

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Prof. Mark Lathrop re-appointed Scientific Director, McGill University Genome Quebec Innovation Centre

Our congratulations to Prof. Mark Lathrop on being re-appointed as the Scientific Director at McGill University Genome Quebec Innovation Centre.

Vice-Principle and Dean of The Faculty of Medicine, Dr. David Eidelman along with Vice-Dean, Dr. Mara Ludwig made the following announcement “It is with pleasure that we announce the re-appointment of Mark Lathrop, PhD, to the position of Scientific Director, McGill University and Génome Québec Innovation Centre, a position he has held since 2011, during which time he has helped strengthen our position as a hub for genomic research in Quebec and a leader nationally and internationally.

A native of British Columbia, Professor Lathrop completed his Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees at the University of Alberta before obtaining his PhD from the University of Washington (Seattle) in Biomathematics. He then moved to France, where he was one of the founders of the Centre d’Étude du Polymorphisme Humain, which pioneered international collaboration on the human genome in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1993, Dr. Lathrop moved to the University of Oxford, where he was a Wellcome Trust Principal Fellow and Professor of Human Genetics, during which time he co-founded and was first Scientific Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, an institute created to apply genomic approaches to understanding the molecular basis of human disease. In 1997, he was asked by the French government to form the Centre National de Genotypage outside of Paris in Evry, which he directed until 2012.

Professor in the Department of Human Genetics at McGill, Professor Lathrop’s current research is focused on the use of the human genome sequence, and other information about the human genome, to understand the molecular basis of disease, and how these can be applied to individualize approaches to disease prevention and treatment. His work has been recognized with many honours throughout his career, including the French Order of Merit and the French Legion of Honour.”

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Congratulations: Dr. Guy Rouleau awarded the 2016 Prix de l’oeuvre scientifique.


By Shawn Hayward, Montreal Neuro

Dr. Guy Rouleau, Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre, has been chosen to receive another major award recognizing his outstanding scientific career. The national organization representing Canadian francophone doctors, Médecins francophones du Canada, is bestowing on him its 2016 Prix de l’oeuvre scientifique.

“In awarding this prize, our association would like to underlie Dr. Rouleau’s contribution to the advancement of medical knowledge and to recognize his entire scientific career,” says Dr. Marie-Françoise Mégie, president of the Médecins francophones du Canada, a Montreal-based organization dedicated to promoting humane, high-quality medicine through its network of members.The Prix de l’oeuvre scientifique recognizes the career’s work of a Canadian doctor whose activities and scientific publications have had a wide influence on domestic and international clinical practice, and on advancing medicine.

“I am honoured to accept this award from a prestigious organization such as Médecins francophones du Canada,” says Dr. Rouleau. “The previous scientists who have received the Prix de l’oeuvre scientifique have all made impressive achievements and I am proud to count myself among them.”

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January 2017

  • January 20, 2017 at 5:00pm - The Last Lecture Series presents a talk by Dr. Beth FosterTo be held at the Glen Site, Block E, Room EM1.3509.
  • January 23, 2017 at 4:00pm - MRCCT Seminar Series presents a talk by Dr. Marc Lecuit entitled Listeria invasion of host tissues: mechanisms and effects. To be held in the McIntyre Building, Martin Amphitheater, Room #504.
  • February 13, 2017 at 10:00am – Amirthagowri Ambalavanan’s Ph.D. Oral Defence entitled “Genetic Risk Factors of Childhood Onset Schizophrenia”. Supervisors: Drs. Guy Rouleau & Ridha Joober. To be held in the Stewart Biology Building, 1205 Dr. Penfield, Room W4/12.
  • February 17, 2017 at 3:00pm – Sabrina Torre’s Ph.D. Oral Defence entitledUncovering novel host factors driving pathological neuroinflammation in a mouse model of cerebral malaria. Supervisor: Dr. Philippe Gros. To be held in the Stewart Biology Building, 1205 Dr. Penfield, Room W4/12.

McGill Dobson Cup 2017 – Have an idea? Make it happen.

Applications are now open for the McGill Dobson Cup 2017!

As McGill’s premier startup competition, startup teams have the opportunity to compete for over $100,000 in cash prizes, awarded as seed funding to the most promising companies across 4 Tracks:

  1. Innovation Driven Enterprise
  2. Small & Medium Enterprise
  3. Social Enterprise
  4. Health Sciences

For all rules, requirements, and important information, please visit the McGill Dobson Cup 2017 Guidelines here.

If you plan on competing in this coming year’s McGill Dobson Cup, make sure to attend the McGill Dobson Startup Bootcamp 2017 on January 7, 2017 and get the tools to launch your venture!

Applications for the McGill Dobson Cup 2017 close on January 18, 2017 at 11:59 PM so don’t wait!

For more info contact entrepreneurship@mcgilldobson.com


McGill GMCA Bootcamp

Do you want to switch from academia to business?

Jenny Rae Le Roux is one of the most well-respected professionals in the field of business coaching. During both the 2 hour Bootcamp Lite and the 1 day Interview and Resume Bootcamp, she will introduce you to the foundations of switching out of academia using the example of management consulting.

You will learn:

  • the difference between the academic and business-style resume,
  • how to answer job interview questions correctly,
  • secret recipes for cracking case interview questions which are rapidly gaining in popularity in the business world,
  • time permitting, Jenny Rae’s hacks for effective networking, crafting a winner elevator pitch, her know-how “hero stories”, and much more!

Event schedule:

  • 2 hour Bootcamp Lite: Sunday, January 15th, 6-8pm, room 112, 3600 University tickets here 
  • 1 day Interview and Resume Bootcamp: Monday, January 16th, 9am-3pm, room 103, 3600 University tickets here

Early bird offer expires on Friday, January 6th at 11:59pm!


Your thesis. Your passion. 3 minutes!

The 3MT/MT180 is a presentation and communication skills competition that takes place at universities around the globe. Participating in the competition will give you the chance to communicate your leading-edge research to a non-specialist audience. The challenge… you will have only three minutes and a single slide.

Submit your application HERE!

To enter the competition, submit a 200-word research summary, along with a 30-second video introducing your research. Submissions can be made in either English or French. Note that the French competition (MT180 – Ma thèse en 180 secondes) is open to doctoral students only. 

McGill is now offering extensive presentation skill training before competing in heats on February 7th or 9th. From there, only 10 to 12 students will move forward and compete at the McGill 3MT/MT180 finals, held on March 15th.

Winners will be selected from the final competition to represent McGill at the CAGS 3MT Eastern regional finals (location to be confirmed), and the concours ACFAS Ma thèse en 180 seconds held at McGill. In addition, the audience and viewers will be able to cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to cultivate your presentation skills and share your passion with a broad audience!

The deadline for applications is January 9, 2017.


Human Genetics – Excellence Awards 2016

Dear Human Genetics Students,

Excellence awards are given annually, in recognition of extraordinary performance over the academic year. The award is a one-time scholarship payment. Both M.Sc. and Ph.D. students registered full-time through the Department of Human Genetics are eligible to apply. The applications submitted before the deadline will be evaluated by the Graduate Training Committee and the results of the competition will be announced in February.

Application form: Excellence Award Form 2016, submit to Ross MacKay 

Deadline: January 20, 2017


Summer 2017 Internship Opportunity in Panama

Do you want to gain work experience with the United Nations? Are you passionate about topics of safety and security in Latin America? Do you enjoy extensive research and analytical writing?

The United Nations Office of Safety and Security is seeking an intern for summer 2017 to work in its office located in Panama City. Applications must be returning to McGill in fall 2017, and possess intermediate to advanced language proficiency in Spanish.

For more information, please see the internship posting or visit our website: https://www.mcgill.ca/internships/current-ion-internship-opportunities/undss-panama

For more info contact: Laura Di Maio (514-398-2916)


Science Exposed / La Preuve par l’image, Deadline: January 31, 2017

Showcase your research through images!

The Science Exposed contest welcomes researchers in the public or private sector to submit images in the context of their research either individually or as a group. While organized by NSERC (in collaboration with Acfas for the French segment, “La preuve par l’image”), the contest is open to all fields of study.

The contest is open to student researchers at the Master’s or doctoral level, postdoctoral researchers, research professors, and researchers in a public or private research centre.  They are invited to submit a single image of their research.

Images can relate to any field of study: natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities, or health sciences, with the exception of images from the arts, including visual arts, media arts, and research/creation. They must be submitted in English or French with a three-part description: a catchy title, a plain-language explanation of the research presented in the image, and a description of the techniques/technologies used to create the image.

NSERC and Acfas will work together to share the winning images with all Canadians.

For more details on the Science Exposed contest, please visit the NSERC website.

Submission deadline: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. (ET)


CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: GPS Graduate Mobility Award 2016-17

The Graduate Mobility Award encourages graduate students to study and conduct research abroad as part of their McGill degree program by defraying part of the cost of the international experience. The award, funded by the Government of Quebec, is available to all full-time thesis students enrolled in a graduate degree program at McGill who have been nominated by their academic unit and faculty to take part in a mobility opportunity. The mobility award is meant to contribute towards the completion of the student’s thesis. A limited number of Awards are available each year on a competitive basis.

Deadline: Rolling Submission. Submit your request to the Department of Human Genetics.

For information regarding eligibility and how to apply, visit here.


GCRC Graduate Recruitment Event and Open House, Jan 12 – 14, 2017

Join the team. Fight cancer at the GCRC.

The Goodman Cancer Research Centre is currently recruiting the best minds to join the cancer biology program. Prospective students are invited to apply by November 14, 2016 to attend the GCRC Graduate Recruitment Event, to be held in Montreal in January 2017. Top applicants will be invited to the GCRC for an introduction to the graduate program and to meet GCRC students and scientists. Selected invitees will be offered admission to the graduate program at the GCRC (Fall 2017 or Winter 2018 admission), including a full scholarship and research allowance.


Event flyer


IRCM Conferences 2016-17



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