McGill genomics research projects to receive $10M in federal, provincial funding

Major federal and provincial investments in genomics research were announced this week following three recent Genome Canada competitions. The announcement, made at University of Guelph, includes over $10 million in funding to seven projects led by McGill researchers.

A team led by McGill professors Mathieu Blanchette, Jacek Majewski and, Jérome Waldispühl will create and release improved computational and statistical tools for analyzing 3D data in their native 3D context. Their new tools will be integrated with the team’s 3D visualization platform that will help scientists explore the data, build new hypotheses and test them in rigorous statistical frameworks. The results of this project will be made widely available through open-source software that will enable statistically robust analysis of individual and groups of 3D genomic data; provide a virtual reality-based 3D genome browser supporting integrated visualization of genomic data; and include a toolset for integrative mining of genomic and epigenomic data in their 3D genome context. A lay version of the visualization platform will also be used for community outreach through exhibits in schools and museums. Read more here.

McGill researchers among recipients of $34 million grant to combat cancer

Researchers from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal are part of a multinational team led by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), whose project was recently selected for funding through Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) Grand Challenge competition — an international funding initiative that aims to address some of the biggest global challenges in cancer research. The multidisciplinary team will receive 20 million British pounds (nearly 34 million Canadian dollars) over four years to explore the links between chronic inflammation and cancer.

The project, known as STrOmal ReprograMing (STORMing Cancer) Provides New Directions to Prevent and Revert Chronic Inflammation, aims to find novel ways of treating cancer caused by inflammation and to develop new options to prevent cancer from developing in high-risk patients with chronic inflammatory diseases.

“I am thrilled to be part of this world-class cancer research hub, along with colleagues from the RI-MUHC and McGill,” said co-investigator Dr. Lorenzo Ferri, David S. Mulder Chair in Surgery at McGill and a clinician-scientist from the Cancer Research Program at the RI-MUHC. “This grant will allow us to examine cancer from a different angle. Rather than solely studying the mutations in cancer cells, as we’ve been doing for decades, the STORMing Cancer project will aim to identify the signals and drivers of chronic inflammation that result in alterations to the protein and cellular “scaffolding” supporting tissues ultimately leading to cancer.” Read more here.

Shared genetic marker offers new promise in targeting specific ovarian and lung cancers

Two new papers, published simultaneously in Nature Communications and led by researchers at McGill University, offer promise that a drug currently used to treat estrogen positive breast cancer may be effective in treating two different types of cancer, one rare and one common form.

The breakthrough discovery launching this research came in 2014 when Dr. William Foulkes, James McGill Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Oncology and Human Genetics at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and a medical geneticist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), showed that small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT), a rare but highly fatal cancer which primarily strikes younger women, is caused by mutations in the gene SMARCA4. Read more here

LES 10 DÉCOUVERTES DE 2018 Une molécule prometteuse contre la malaria

Une molécule dérivée d’une plante combat la malaria sur deux fronts: en plus de s’en prendre au parasite, elle pourrait devenir le premier traitement contre l’une de ses complications les plus dangereuses.

Plasmodium falciparum, dangereux représentant de la famille des parasites qui causent la malaria, est un spécialiste du système immunitaire humain. Se glissant au cœur de nos globules rouges, il infecte chaque année plus de 200 millions de personnes grâce au coup de pouce de certains moustiques.

« C’est un parasite extrêmement bien adapté pour infecter l’humain, explique David Langlais, professeur adjoint au Département de génétique humaine de l’Université McGill. Il a évolué à nos côtés sur une très longue période de temps. » L’infection culmine avec la destruction de nos globules rouges, entraînant de fortes fièvres et de l’anémie.

Il est possible de prévenir la malaria – ou paludisme – par la prise d’antipaludiques ; ces mêmes médicaments sont utilisés à fortes doses pour traiter l’infection.

Originally published in Quebec Science. Read more here

November winner of the Relève étoile Jacques-Genest award

John Morris, a PhD student in Human Genetics at McGill University, is the award winner of the Relève étoile Jacques-Genest award of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS). His Award-winning publication: Assessment of the genetic and clinical determinants of fracture risk: genome wide association and mendelian randomisation study is published in The British Medical Journal.

Osteoporosis is a common and debilitating disease associated with age that causes bones to thin and become more porous, leading to an increased risk of fracture. To study the genetic aspects of fracture risk, John Morris led a genetic association study to identify the genes that influence the risk of osteoporotic fracture.

Read the full abstract here.

The Relève étoile award (new name for the Étudiants-chercheurs étoiles award) is awarded to student-researchers by each of the three Fonds de recherche du Québec.

The FRQS Relève étoile award is now named after Jacques Genest as a tribute to this great researcher and builder.

To learn more about the awards, click here.

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Funding, Jobs and Other Announcements:

Jobs and Other Opportunities:

  • McGill Doctoral Internship Program offers McGill’s doctoral students at the end of their degree the opportunity to learn and grow outside of academia through a 3-month remunerated internship. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. Click here for testimonials.

Awards – Call for Nominations:

Funding Opportunities

  • Islamic Development Bank Scholorships – the applicant (new or continuing student) must be conducting research in Sustainability Sciences, and be a citizen of one of the IDB member countries. Apply online through the IDB portal Deadline for application February 29, 2019.
  • 2019 L’Oréal Canada For Women in Science Research Excellence Fellowships – offers two (2) fellowships of $20,000 CAD each to female post-doctoral researchers in the field of Life Sciences and Engineering/Pure and Applied Sciences. Deadline for application: March 22, 2019
  • Research Scholarship Program in Turkey – Funding opportunity for research in Turkey. PhD holders and PhD candidates at dissertation stage are eligible to apply. Deadline for application is March 31, 2019
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February 2019

  • February 28, 2019 at 3:00pm – Genelle Harrison’s Ph.D. Oral Defence entitled “Natural selection contributed to immunological differences between human hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists”: Supervisors: Dr. Erwin Schurr and Dr. Luis BarreiroTo be held at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre, 1160 Pine Ave West, Rm 501
  • March 18, 2019 from 9:00am to 5:00pm13th Annual HGSS ConferenceHuman Genome Editing: Myths and Realities of Rewriting the Final Draft  Keynote Speaker: Dr. Gerald P. Schatten, University of Pittsburgh.  To be held at New Residence Hall, 3625 Av. du Parc, Montréal,  Register here

Islamic Development Bank (IDB)- Funding Opportunity

Funding opportunity for new and continuing International Students.  To be eligible, the applicant must be conducting research in Sustainability Sciences, and be a citizen of one of the IDB member countries. Students must apply online through the IDB portal and are required to upload their official McGill Offer of Admission letter obtained via uApply. If your Unit is considering offering admission to students who are eligible for this funding opportunity, we ask that you complete the recommendation process as soon as possible. This will allow enough time for the student to apply for this opportunity before the February 28, 2019 deadline.

Course Offering – Mouse Development, Stem Cells and Cancer

Offered by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, this intensive lecture and laboratory course is designed for scientists interested in using mouse models to study mammalian development, stem cells and cancer. The lecture portion of the course, taught by leaders in the field, provides the conceptual basis for contemporary research in embryogenesis, organogenesis in development and disease, embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent stem cells and cancer biology. Takes place  June 5-24, 2019 at Cold Spring Harbor, NY.  Application deadline March 1, 2019. 

Career Development and Professional Skills for Research Trainees

Presented by the Desjardins Centre for Advanced Training of the RI-MUHC (McGill trainees who are not part of the RI-MUHC are welcome to attend most events and activities).

Sessions include Peer Career Groups: for trainees who want to explore possible careers for health scientists and researchers, Preparing Winning Scholarships and Fellowships, and Developing Your Soft Skills For Today and Tomorrow in an Interconnected Society.

For more information and to register for sessions, click here


This fall, Graphos is offering 1-credit, pass/fail courses designed to help students develop clear and coherent manuscripts and oral presentations. Several courses are available and Doctoral students and many Master’s students can take the courses without extra fees, thanks to the University’s tuition sponsorship program.  To see the list of courses see here for more detail.


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