Researchers collaborate to treat vision loss linked to Usher thanks to a 1.74 million USD grant from the National Institutes of Health

Source: Naima Abbadi, PhD, Program Manager, Child Health and Human Development Program, MUHC Research Institute, October 2019

Developing an effective treatment using antisense therapy for vision loss in Usher – a rare genetic disease characterized by concurrent hearing and vision loss – is the long-term goal of a research project led by Jennifer J. Lentz, Associate Professor at LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence and Departments of Otorhinolaryngology, Genetics and Ophthalmology in collaboration with Dr. Robert K. Koenekoop, Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and Chief of Pediatric Ophthalmology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital of MUHC. This project was awarded a $1.74 million USD five-year grant by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

Usher syndrome, which affects all aspects of life, including health, education, social activities and employment, is associated with mutations in 16 different genes creating four distinct clinical types. Lentz’s research targets the human 216A mutation in the USH1C gene that causes Type 1C Usher Syndrome in the Acadian population.

“The first aim of this study is to identify and characterize an USH1C-ASO drug therapy molecule that most effectively targets the 216A mutation and treats vision loss,” says Lentz.

The second aim is to determine which visual tests are the most likely to document improvement in vision and safety, i.e., the most robust clinical endpoints and identify potential trial participants to guide a clinical trial. Dr. Koenekoop, who is also Professor of Pediatric Surgery, Human Genetics and Ophthalmology at McGill University, will contribute to the research clinical aspect along with Lentz and Dr. Maria Reinoso, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at LSU Health New Orleans. To date, 62 USH1C patients have been identified in the three participating clinical centers.

“I am extremely excited to continue working with the LSU group headed by Dr. Lentz,” says Dr. Koenekoop. “We, in Montreal, have been following USH1C patients for over 20 years, and this next step in our collaboration and novel study provides solid hope for them”.

The clinical research is additionally supported by a $40,000 donation to Lentz’s and Reinoso’s work from Ush One See Foundation, and a $453,920 grant from Fighting Blindness Canada to Koenekoop’s research.

For more information, read LSU Health New Orleans Press Releas

Congratulations Dr. Nada Jabado on receiving the 2019 Pediatric Academic Leadership─Clinician Investigator Award from the Pediatric Chairs of Canada

Nada Jabado receives reward for outstanding leadership from the Pediatric Chairs of Canada

Revolutionary research findings honoured, as well as passion and compassion in research and patient care

Source: PCC and RI-MUHC, August 2019

Dr. Nada Jabado, a senior scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, received the 2019 Pediatric Academic Leadership─Clinician Investigator Award from the Pediatric Chairs of Canada (PCC) in June. The award recognizes outstanding leadership in developing environments that foster opportunity for child and youth health research.

The PCC noted that Dr. Jabado’s success and excellence as a scientist are acknowledged and celebrated by her peer community. She has been responsible for revolutionary research findings influencing the World Health Organization to revise its classification of central nervous system tumours. Additionally, her research into the histone binding gene with its targeted and effective interventions is expected to lead to improved outcomes.

Dr. Jabado is an exceptional national and international leader in science, primarily in the field of pediatric neuro-oncology, but also in cancer in general. She is a highly productive researcher whose career achievement has successfully garnered multimillion-dollar research funding.

“I am honoured to receive this prestigious award and humbled to be in such distinguished company as other former recipients,” says Dr. Jabado. “The true measure of a clinician scientist specializing in cancer is how efficiently we can bring discoveries from bench to bedside. Given the diverse nature of brain tumours in children, we have only been able to make small strides in field of pediatric neuro-oncology. However, I am confident that our findings in the field will continue to shed light on the genetic and epigenetic roots of this disease and pave the way to improve the health outcomes of all children diagnosed with brain tumours.”

Read more here

Gustavo Turecki honoured by UBC Faculty of Medicine

Chair of the Department of Psychiatry will be awarded the Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize

By McGill Reporter Staff,  July 17, 2019

The Margolese National Heart Disorders Prize will be awarded to Ruth McPherson of the University of Ottawa, for her international impact on the genetic basis of coronary artery disease. John Dick of the University of Toronto will be awarded the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research for his pioneering discovery of the origins of leukemia and causes for relapse.

Each prize is valued at $50,000, making them among the most prestigious honours bestowed by a Canadian university. The recipients were chosen by a committee of international experts chaired by Robert McMaster, Executive Associate Dean, Research, and Deborah Money, Executive Vice Dean.

Turecki, the Canada Research Chair in Major Depressive Disorder and Suicide; and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, has devoted his career to improving our understanding of major depression and suicide. The UBC announcement said his “groundbreaking work in depression and suicide has been instrumental in the development of suicide research, intervention and prevention initiatives in Canada and internationally.”

read more here

Keerthana Harwalker – 2019 CSMB Poster Award

Keerthana Harwalker (Dr. Yojiro Yamanaka lab) was one of the winners of a poster award at the  2019 Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences annual conference at Université de Montréal, Montreal, QC.

Congratulations Keerthana!



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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

  • Delta Kappa Gamma World Fellowship – $4,000 (US) funding opportunities to female full-time Master’s or Doctoral students from foreign countries to pursue studies in Canada and the United States. Deadline: Dec 15, 2019.
  • McGill GPS Doctoral Internship Program 2019-2020: 3-month remunerated internship for doctoral students at the end of their degree. Applications on a rolling basis.
  • McGill-Glasgow Travel Award: For McGill PhD and PostDocs interested in collaborating with University of Glasgow. Deadline: January 06, 2019.
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October 2019

  • November 08, 2019 at 9:00am – Scheduled Medical Genetics Academic Half-Day to be held at the MUHC Glen Site Room B02.9390.
  • November 08, 2019 at 11:00am – Department of Physiology Seminar Series presents a talk by Dr. Bob Scholte, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, entitled “Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis, when, what target, and how much is enough?”. To be held at the McIntyre Medical Building, Room 1034.
  • November 19, 2019 at 4:00pmWajih Jawher’s M.Sc. seminar entitled “Deciphering the Cooperative Genetic Events in Metastatic Ewing Sarcoma“. Supervisor: Dr. Nada Jabado. To be held at the MUHC Glen Site, Room EM1.3509.
  • November 28, 2019 at 3:00pm – Despoina Manousaki’s PhD Oral Defence entitled, “The Role of Common and Rare Genetic Variation in Vitamin D Status and Clinical Implications of Vitamin D Genomics”. Supervisor: Dr. Brent Richards. To be held at the GCRC, Room 501.
  • December 05, 2019 at 4:00pmFaezeh Sarayloo’s PhD seminar entitled, “Identification of the molecular mechanisms underlying restless legs syndrome“. Supervisors: Drs. Guy Rouleau and Patrick Dion. To be held at the GCRC, Room 501.

Nov 18 – Why Roll The Dice? What’s hidden in your Jewish genes?

The JPPS-Bialik Momentum Group presents: A panel on genetic health.

Distinguished panelists will provide insight and guidance on your questions about the medical, ethical, legal, and halachic aspects of our unique « Jewish genes » including:
– What are the chances that you are a carrier?
– How can you reduce the health risks to you and your children?
– What’s the difference between BRCA and a condition like Tay-Sachs?
– What are your options to get tested?
– What are the pros and cons of direct-to-consumer genetic testing?
– Does Jewish halacha allow testing?

You will leave with tools that will help you make informed decisions on your health and the health of your children.

When: Nov 18th, 2019 at 7:00pm

Where: JPPS-Bialik 6500 Ch. Kildare, CSL.


Facebook Event:

Program Brochure

Win4Science mentoring program opportunity

The department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics is leading a Women’s Initiative to hack the gender gap (Win4Science) and for a second year they are launching the Win4Science mentoring program specifically designed for women in biological and biomedical sciences.

Win4Science is an initiative that aims to increase awareness regarding challenges that women in science face, by providing tools to young investigators to overcome barriers and obstacles.

With the mentoring program, we hope to create a community, provide female role models, and provide networking opportunities for women in the Biomedical and Life Sciences Departments across McGill University.

Mentoring groups consisting of one mentor and 3-5 mentees are expected to meet about 3 times per academic year. Composition of mentoring groups will change every year so that mentees will have the great opportunity to be exposed to several mentors and peers throughout their training years.

Looking for mentors (professors or postdocs) and mentees (graduate students, postdocs, early investigators, etc.) who will ACTIVELY participate in the mentorship program. If interested, please sign up through this Google Form

Upon registration, mentors and mentees will receive more detailed instructions through the coordinator of the program, Anne-Sophie Pépin .

For more information on Win4Science, visit:

Nov 17-20, 2019: Joint CEEHRC & IHEC Conference on Epigenetics, Banff, AB

The Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC) is pleased to partner with the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) to host the IHEC Annual Meeting and the 6th Canadian Conference on Epigenetics in Banff, Alberta from November 17 to 20, 2019. We are delighted to announce that registration is officially open for the meeting and a provisional programme, a list of confirmed speakers and registration procedures can be found on the event website: and on the event poster.

Registration: The registration fee includes the meeting, accommodation, meals and bus transport between Calgary airport and the Rimrock Resort, Banff, AB.

  • Early registration deadline: September 20th 2019
  • Final registration deadline: October 11th 2019

Abstract Submission: We invite you to submit an abstract to be considered for an oral or poster presentation.

  • Abstract submission deadline: October 11th 2019

Travel Awards: As with last year’s meeting, travel awards will be available for Canadian research trainees and science communicators. Each award will cover the cost of registration, plus reimbursement of travel expenses up to $500.

  • For eligibility and application procedures:
  • Travel award application deadline: September 20th 2019
  • Note: The early bird registration rate will be honoured for all travel award applicants.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the organizing committee at We look forward to seeing you in Banff!

Can-GARD: Advanced Therapies for Rare Diseases 2020 Spring Accelerator Grant Competition

We are pleased to announce that the Can-GARD: Advance Therapies for Rare Disease-2020 Spring Accelerator Grant Competition is now open for Letter of Intent (LOI) submission (Deadline: Friday, November 30, 2019 at 11:59 PM, EST.)

Can-GARD aims to fund proposals that would eliminate barriers in the diagnostic or treatment journey for rare disease patients.  It is anticipated that approximately 3 grants will be awarded in this competition. Any topic: Basic research, clinical application, population studies, and machine learning approaches will be considered.

Can-GARD has partnered with The Rare Disease Models and Mechanisms (RDMM) Network who will match one grant* which will be made to an RDMM investigator, aiming to take their research on rare disease diagnosis or treatment to the next level.

*RDMM/Can-GARD Connect Award – One of the total awards will be supplemented by the RDMM Network.  Maximum amount of this joint award will be $100,000 CDN per year.

For more information on this competition, LOI guidelines and forms please click HERE

For further information about Can-GARD,  please visit :

January 16-17, 2020: GCRC Graduate Student Recruitment Event

McGill’s Goodman Cancer Research Centre (GCRC) is hosting its third annual graduate recruitment event on January 16 and 17, 2020.  This event provides prospective students with an opportunity to meet current students and faculty members and receive a one-year studentship to study at the GCRC.

More information can be found on our website @

Entretiens Jacques-Cartier: Le Virage Numérique Comme Vecteur de l’Égalité Territoriale en Santé – le 5 novembre 2019

McGill – Centre of Genomincs and Policy is organizing a one-day event within the Entretiens Jacques-Cartier entitled “Le Virage Numérique Comme Vecteur de l’Égalité Territoriale en Santé”. The event will take place on November 5, 2019 at McGill University, where several Quebec and French speakers will discuss the importance of digital technology as a means of combating territorial inequalities and as a vehicle for patient-oriented medicine.  This is an excellent opportunity for students and professionals alike to become familiar with this multidisciplinary subject that touches the fields of law, bioethics, management and philosophy, to name but a few.

Registration Deadline: Ocotober 31, 2019.

Program Brochure

2020 National Essay Challenge (NEC) / Concours national d’essais de 2020 (CNE)

The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is launching a National Essay Challenge for graduate students in Canadian universities to promote innovative policy-relevant research. The NEC is designed to generate evidence-based insights on IRCC policies, encouraging graduate students to learn more about immigration research and policy, and raising awareness about the availability of data and supporting resources.

The NEC is open to all disciplines and welcomes empirical research papers related to IRCC’s mandate using qualitative or quantitative methodologies. Graduate students with selected essays will be invited to present their research to policy makers in Ottawa (with travel paid) and will receive $500 towards attendance at an academic conference of their choice.

[Read More]

Gryphos: 1-Credit Courses on Writing and Presenting at the Graduate Level

This fall, Graphos is offering 1-credit, pass/fail courses designed to help students develop clear and coherent manuscripts and oral presentations.

Cornerstones of Academic Writing (CEAP 642)
Fundamentals of Academic Presentations (CEAP 652)
Literature Review 1: Summary and Critique (CEAP 661)

If English is not your first language and you are new to academic writing in English, please consider these specialised courses:

Strategies for Effective Communication in English (CESL 631)
Fundamentals of Academic Writing in English (CESL 641)
Pronunciation for Effective Communication (CESL 651)

If you have questions about these courses, other Graphos activities (workshops, peer writing groups, writing retreats), or any McGill Writing Centre offerings (e.g., Tutorial Service), please contact us at

Interesting Read for PhD’s

The Conference Board of Canada has provided a comprehensive overview of career outcomes for Ph.D. graduates in Canada. Read the entire article here: Inside and Outside the Academy- Valuing and Preparing PhDs for Careers_

Pre-announcement of Harmonization of Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGSD) Program

Canada’s three federal granting agencies, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) have announced the harmonization of the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral (CGS D) Program.

On June 27th, 2019, the Tri-Agencies will launch the first phase of the CGS D harmonization with a new common CGS D landing page, as well as a harmonized timeline and program description.  In addition, starting with the upcoming CGS D competition, institutions will submit their health research applications to CIHR in a process similar to that of NSERC and SSHRC. As such, eligible Canadian institutions will receive quotas corresponding to the number of CGS D applications they may submit to each granting agency for consideration in the national competition.

It is important to note that applications will continue to be submitted via each of the agency platforms (CIHR: ResearchNet, NSERC: On-Line System, SSHRC: On-Line System). SSHRC will be launching a fully automated online application process, including letters of appraisal for its Doctoral awards competition (SSHRC On-line System).

More information to follow once it is available.

Harmonized competition timeline

June 27 Granting Agencies official launch
GPS deadline to submit recommended applications for all 3 agencies (SSHRC, CIHR & NSERC) Early October
October 17 Direct applications are due to agencies.
November 21 Institutions submit their allotted quota of applications to agencies.
April Notice of decisions are released.

New courses

MATH 682  –  Statistical Inference-  Fall 2019

This course is offered by QLS in conjunction with the Math department.  The topics covered  include: Conditional probability and Bayes’ Theorem, discrete and continuous univariate and multivariate distributions, conditional distributions, moments, independence of random variables. Modes of convergence, weak law of large numbers, central limit theorem. Point and interval estimation. Likelihood inference. Bayesian estimation and inference. Hypothesis testing.

EXSU 505 – Trends in Precision Oncology – Fall 2019

This course is designed to provide students with novel and emerging paradigms in cancer detection, management and treatment, and enable them to identify key knowledge gaps that need to be filled by the next generation of clinicians and scientists in oncology.  EXSU 505 will be taught as a series of multidisciplinary lectures based on students active participation. The course will include assigned readings, two group oral presentations combined with short written (individual) assignments, and a final written assignment in the form of a succinct research proposal  Student performance will be evaluated based on participation and successful  completion of written and oral assignments.  For further information please contact course coordinators:  Dr. David Labbé or Dr. Livia Garzia.

5-Week Courses on Academic Writing and Presenting

This spring, Graphos is offering 5-week, pass/fail courses designed to help students develop clear and coherent manuscripts and oral presentations.

Cornerstones of Academic Writing (CEAP 642)
Fundamentals of Academic Presentations
(CEAP 652)
Literature Review 1: Summary and Critique
(CEAP 661) 

If English is not your first language and you are new to academic writing in English, please consider these specialised courses:

Strategies for Effective Communication in English (CESL 631)
Fundamentals of Academic Writing in English (CESL 641)
Pronunciation for Effective Communication (CESL 651)

Doctoral students and many Master’s students can take the courses without extra fees, thanks to the University’s tuition sponsorship program.  Registration is also open for our fall and winter courses, including CEAP 665 (Lit Review 2) and CCOM 614 (Communicating Science to the Public).

If you have questions about these courses or other Graphos and McGill Writing Centre offerings (workshops, peer writing groups, writing retreats, tutorial service), please contact us at

Graduate Mobility Awards 2018-19

The Graduate Mobility Award, successfully launched in 2016, encourages graduate students to study and conduct research abroad as part of their McGill degree program.

A recent review by the Quebec Ministry of Education has led to changes in the program rules. New regulations concerning award value and eligibility criteria will therefore come into effect as of April 1st, 2019. Applications approved at the Faculty level as of April 1st  must adhere to the amended regulations.

 Amendments in Value of Award

Going forward, the amount of funding provided by the Graduate Mobility Award must be between $750 and $1,500 per month. The amount of funding for travel of duration shorter than a month will be prorated accordingly.

 Amendments in Eligibility

In order to be eligible for the Graduate Mobility Awards, students:

  • May travel for up to 2 terms (period may not exceed 8 months);
  • Cannot undertake a research project in a country where they hold citizenship (unless they are a permanent resident or citizen of Canada);
  • Cannot undertake a research project at an institution where they have previously completed a degree.

Other Mobility Opportunities

The GPS website lists several external funding opportunities that support international travel. These include, but are not limited to, the Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements for CGSM, CGSD and Vanier holders; the Québec / Foreign Government Scholarship Program with multiple destinations; and the Mitacs Globalink Research Award which provides $6,000 for 12–24-week research projects at universities overseas.

Important update on the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

On February 14, 2019, Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made important changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program. The new guidelines are effective as of February 14, 2019 and apply to applications received on or after this date.

Students now have 180 days from completion of their studies to apply for their PGWP from within Canada or from outside of Canada.

  • Be careful: Your study permit becomes invalid 90 days after completion of studies or the day on which it expires, whichever comes first, as per section 222 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. If you don’t apply for your PGWP before your study permit becomes invalid, you must either: apply to change your status to a visitor or leave Canada. See timeline below.

The new guidelines state that students who have changed their status to a visitor before their study permit expires, may subsequently apply for their PGWP from within Canada

  • Be careful: If you submit your PGWP application online from within Canada as a visitor, you will not have the authorization to work while you wait for your PGWP. Only PGWP applicants who had a valid study permit at the time they submitted their PGWP application can work full-time while waiting for a decision on their application as per section 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

New guidelines now require applicants to include both their transcript and proof of completion of studies when applying for their PGWP. Students that have taken a leave of absence, may still be eligible for the PGWP.

  • Be careful: The eligibility requirement for the PGWP is that you maintain a full-time student status in Canada throughout your studies. If you are concerned that you do not meet this eligibility requirement, please meet with an immigration advisor at ISS.

For the full text, please see IRCC’s website.

Important immigration update concerning study permits

As of January 11, 2019, international students must meet the following study permit conditions:

  • Remain enrolled until they complete their studies and
  • Actively pursue their studies

Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) now provides guidelines on how to determine whether or not an international student is compliant to their study permit conditions. These guidelines highlight the following:

  • International students in Quebec must be enrolled in full-time studies in order to be considered actively pursuing their studies.
  • International students are expected to make reasonable progress to complete their program.
  • International students who take an institutionally approved leave of no more than 150 days will be considered compliant and be considered to have actively pursued their studies.
  • If the leave is more than 150 days, then international students will need to change their status to a visitor or leave Canada prior to the end of the 150 day period.
  • International students in Canada with a valid study permit and who have deferred their admission can remain in Canada with their study permit up to 150 days, after which they must change their status to a visitor or leave Canada.

For more information, refer to IRCC’s website or contact ISS.


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