Roderick McInnes

Congratulations to Dr. Roderick McInnes on being named recipient of the ASHG Arno Motulsky-Barton Childs Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education, 2015. We would also like to congratulate the other recipients Dr. Robert Nussbaum and Dr. Huntington F. Willard.

The ASHG Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education was established to recognize those who have made significant contributions of exceptional quality and great importance to human genetics education. Individually and together, each of this year’s three recipients is an accomplished geneticist and educator. Over the years, they have taught regularly as well as run their own laboratories, and have been involved in program development and/or mentoring at various levels.

Dr. Roderick R. McInnes is the Director of the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital, Alva Chair in Human Genetics, Canada Research Chair in Neurogenetics and Professor of Human Genetics and of Biochemistry at McGill University. Dr. McInnes has made important contributions to scientific understanding of retina and eye development, as well as retinal degeneration, and currently, his laboratory focuses on neuronal processes. He has served on numerous educational committees since the 1970s, launched a training program for clinician-scientists, and taught genetics and provided guidance at the medical and graduate levels.

Since 2001, Drs. Nussbaum, McInnes, and Willard have collaboratively authored the sixth, seventh, and eighth editions of the human genetics textbook Genetics in Medicine. Nearly 60 genetics education programs worldwide currently use the textbook, in levels ranging from undergraduate to graduate and professional study, and in diverse contexts including medical, nursing, public health, speech and language, and dental programs.

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Canadian study sheds surprising light on the causes of cerebral palsy


Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of physical disability in children. Every year 140 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in Quebec. It has historically been considered to be caused by factors such as birth asphyxia, stroke and infections in the developing brain of babies. In a new game-changing Canadian study, a research team from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) has uncovered strong evidence for genetic causes of cerebral palsy that turns experts’ understanding of the condition on its head.

The study, published online August 3 in Nature Communications could have major implications on the future of counselling, prevention and treatment of children with cerebral palsy.

“Our research suggests that there is a much stronger genetic component to cerebral palsy than previously suspected,” says the lead study author Dr. Maryam Oskoui, Paediatric neurologist at The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the MUHC, co-director of the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Registry and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. “How these genetic factors interplay with other established risk factors remains to be fully understood. For example, two newborns exposed to the same environmental stressors will often have very different outcomes. Our research suggests that our genes impart resilience, or conversely a susceptibility to injury.”

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2015 Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award – Dr. Charles Scriver

CharlesScriverHeartiest Congratulations to Dr. Charles Robert Scriver for being named the recipient of the Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award, 2015.

“The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named Charles R. Scriver, MD, Alva Professor Emeritus of Human Genetics, and Professor of Pediatrics, Biochemistry (Associate), Biology (Honorary), and Human Genetics at McGill University; as the 2015 recipient of the annual Victor A. McKusick Leadership Award.

Dr. Scriver has worked at McGill University in Montreal for more than 50 years, having founded the deBelle Laboratory for Biochemical Genetics in 1961. He has dedicated his career as a clinician-scientist to discovering, training, treating, and educating the public about inherited metabolic and other genetic diseases.

After a year of clinical work at Children’s Medical Center, Harvard, followed by two years in the laboratory at University College Hospital Medical School, London, Dr. Scriver unexpectedly encountered a recurrent seasonal epidemic in Quebec, which affected thousands of infants and children with Vitamin D deficiency. Along with colleagues, he instituted a combination of epidemiological, regulatory, economic, political, demographic, and cultural approaches to address the problem. Over the following years, he studied inborn errors of metabolism in the newly created deBelle Laboratory, where he and colleagues discovered of a variety of inborn errors affecting enzymes, metabolic pathways, and membrane transport systems in humans.”





Having climbed as high as he could at McGill, the time has come for Thomas to move on. His last day in the office will be Tuesday, July 31.



The annual Department of Human Genetics Teaching Award is given to one member of the clinical faculty and one member of the research faculty to recognize their contributions in the teaching, supervision and mentorship of students.

This year’s winners were chosen from among several nominations submitted by students, residents and faculty members, and were announced at the Department meeting on March 14th and at the Graduate Student research Day on June 21st.

David Rosenblatt, MD

Patricia Tonin, PhD

Congratulations to the winners!

Please keep your ideas in mind for next year’s award nominees.

The Faculty Awards Committee:

Ken Dewar
Jennifer Fitzpatrick
Pablo Lopez
Aimee Ryan
Yannis Trakadis


Congratulations to the Winners of our Research Day Prizes:

Xiaoyang Liu – 1st prize, oral presentation

Jaeseung Kim – 1st prize, poster presentation

Juan Pablo Lopez – 2nd prize, oral presentation

Lena Dolman – 2nd prize, poster presentation

Gregory Boivin – 3rd prize, oral presentation

Jeremy Saban – 3rd prize, poster presentation


It is our pleasure to announce that Bartha Maria Knoppers, Director of the Centre of Genomics & Policy and Professor in the Department of Human genetics received the Order of Québec on June 7th, 2012 in Québec City. Please see her profile here.


 David L. Rimoin, MD, PhD

The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) Mourns the Loss of Founding President and Genetics Pioneer David L. Rimoin, MD, PhD


After a career that spanned nearly half a century, Dr. David L. Rimoin, founding president of ACMG and in many ways the founder of one of the most fast- paced specialties in modern clinical medicine, passed away on Sunday May 27, 2012 in Los Angeles of pancreatic cancer, which had only been diagnosed a few days before.

Dr. Rimoin was a giant in the field of medical genetics. He leaves not only an enduring legacy but also a void in the hearts of the many who loved him, including his beloved wife Ann of 32 years and their three cherished children, Anne, Michael and Lauren.


Click here to read full tribute


Clarke Fraser

Clarke Fraser was inducted to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2012 http://www.cdnmedhall.org/list-name?year=2012

If you haven’t heard it already, Dr. Fraser was interviewed by CBC radio.  The podcast can be heard here (fast forward to about 19 minutes 30 seconds) http://podcast.cbc.ca/w6/worldatsix.mp3

 Nada Jabado

On April 24, during a ceremony at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Mary Argent-Katwala, Director of Research at the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, presented the William E. Rawls Prize to Dr Nada Jabado, researcher at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at McGill University.


The Canadian Cancer Society wants to recognize “Dr Nada Jabado’s remarkable contribution to our understanding of brain cancers in children in the last decade,” Mary Argent-Katwala said at the award ceremony.

At the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Dr Jabado diagnoses fatal tumours. Brain cancers are the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among children because existing treatments are often ineffective. A caring doctor, Dr Jabado focuses on research to one day give hope to the children she treats. “What I am hopeful and proud of is that my work might one day help cure these cancers,” the researcher said.

Innovative in her research, Dr Jabado established a multidisciplinary team composed of pediatric oncologists, bioinformaticians, pathologists and basic scientists. She then equipped the laboratory with a database of childhood tumours, thanks to the collaboration of her peers in Canada and abroad.

To this day, her work has led to great progress in the understanding of brain cancers in children and paved the way for promising treatments. Dr Jabado’s team has most notably identified a genetic mutation present in 40% of glioblastomas, a type of brain cancer. It explains the resistance of glioblastomas to radiation and chemotherapy.

Her recent work has also been the subject of several articles, notably two that appeared in Nature magazine (January and February 2012 issues).

She also won the Maude Abbott prize which was established in 2010 by the Faculty of Medicine in order to recognize outstanding female Faculty Members who excel in Education, Research or Administration with a focus at the early career stage.

















Congratulations to our new Human Genetics Students Society (HGSS) members for 2011-2012. We have students from many different sites, which should help with communication and organizing. Click here to find out more about our HGSS members!


The Department’s Human Genetics Graduate Student Research Day was held on June 2, 2011, with many of our students presenting their work, and featuring keynote speaker Dr. Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. – Director, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH.

Three students were awarded prizes for presenting talks, and four students were awarded for poster presentations. The third prize winner for presenting a talk was Justine Garner, a student in Dr. Jacquetta Trasler’s lab, and winner of a $200 prize.