Renowned Quebec neuroscientist Rouleau to lead The Neuro

Posted on Friday, November 9, 2012

Dr. Guy Rouleau. / Photo courtesy of The Neuro

By McGill Reporter Staff

It would only make sense that the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital would engage a big brain to run the place. So it did.

And, after in international search, The Neuro found its new director right here at home.

Guy Rouleau, a prominent Quebec scientist recognized around the world for his research into such brain disorders as epilepsy, autism and schizophrenia, will succeed the late David Colman at the Neuro and will hold the Wilder Penfield Chair in Neuroscience as Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill. His appointment takes effect January 1, 2013.

“We are confident that Dr. Rouleau will help create and strengthen ties with community, academic institutions and hospitals across Quebec, in Canada and around the world,” read a joint statement issued Thursday by Principal Heather Munroe-Blum, Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine, David Eidelman, and Norman Rinfret, Director General and CEO of the MUHC.

“I have dedicated my career to advancing neuroscience and neurological care,” Rouleau said. “To increase the impact of this work in Quebec and beyond, The Neuro is the place to be. Staying true to Dr. Penfield’s vision, scientists and physicians work hand in hand so that problems encountered in the clinic inspire research, and new findings from the labs are directly applied to patients’ medical needs. The Neuro is a world leader in its integration of research, patient care and teaching.”

Rouleau comes to The Neuro from the Université de Montréal, where in addition to his own research laboratory, he directs the Ste-Justine Hospital Research Centre, the Centre of Excellence in Neuroscience of the Université de Montréal (CENUM) and the Réseau de médecine génétique appliquée du Québec – FRQS.

He is also a recipient of many honours, including most recently the 2012 Prix du Québec – Prix Wilder Penfield, the Henry Friesen Prize and the Margolese Prize. Rouleau is also an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec.

His landmark achievements are his contributions to the identification of more than 20 disease-causing genes and his discovery of new mutational mechanisms. Over the last 20 years, Rouleau and his team have focused on identifying genes causing such neurological and psychiatric diseases as autism, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), hereditary neuropathies, epilepsy and schizophrenia, as well as providing a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that lead to these disease symptoms.

“Dr. Rouleau is a pioneer in both research and clinical care in this field and committed to training the next generation of neuroscientists,” said Eidelman. “He will be instrumental in reinforcing ties and creating new ones with academic institutions, hospitals and communities across Quebec, Canada and internationally. We are delighted to welcome him back to McGill.”

An MD graduate from the University of Ottawa, Rouleau completed his PhD in genetics at Harvard University and did post-graduate work at both The Neuro and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jacques Bougie, Chairman of The Neuro’s Advisory Board, was pleased Rouleau would pick up the reins.

“The Neuro is a world-renowned hub of innovation known for taking calculated risks vital for advancing neuroscience and for solving some of the world’s most pressing neurological problems,” Bougie said. “It requires a visionary leader and Dr. Rouleau is just the person for the job.”

“The Neuro is a tremendous asset to Quebec that contributes directly to the advancement of science and health on a regional and international scale,” Munroe-Blum said. “It plays a pivotal role in expanding our basic knowledge of the neurosciences, and applying this knowledge to the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disease and the improvement of countless lives in this province and beyond. With the appointment of Dr. Rouleau, we look forward with great confidence to building on the Neuro’s global reputation.”

Founded in 1934, The Neuro’s mission is to conduct cutting-edge neuroscience research and to provide the highest levels of advanced and compassionate care for patients with neurological conditions. Diseases of the nervous system account for more hospitalizations, long-term care and chronic suffering than nearly all other medical conditions combined. As we live longer, half of the Canadians alive today will eventually experience a neurological disease within their own families, making the pioneering work at The Neuro more critical than ever.

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