Bartha Knoppers awarded 2019 Friesen Prize

McGill professor Bartha Knoppers, a global leader in the study of legal, social and ethical issues related to biomedical research in human genetics and genomics, has been awarded the 2019 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research by the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FCIHR).

Dr. Knoppers is “one of the most prolific and innovative health policy researchers in Canada and beyond,” FCHIR said in announcing the award. “She has been a leader in the interface of ethics and law, as applied to health research policy, stem cell research, human gene editing, biobanking and global data sharing. Bartha is also a brilliant science communicator and public figure, who gives generously of her time for social good.”

Dr. Knoppers is Professor of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, with appointments in Law and Biomedical Ethics at McGill and is also Director, Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill and Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine.

Read more here.

Bravo Gala 2019

Members of the Department of Human Genetics, Dr. David Rosenblatt, Dr. Nada Jabado and Dr. Hamed Najafabadi, were among those honored at McGill’s 2019 Bravo Gala. The annual event, hosted by McGill’s Research and Innovation, welcomed approximately 250 guests, including researchers and their families and friends, faculty members, students, as well as members of McGill’s academic leadership – all of whom came together to celebrate researchers and scholars across disciplines who won major provincial, national and international prizes and awards in 2018. Read more here.

Why better health care depends on improving data sharing

The future of personalized medicine is dependent on data sharing, according to Yann Joly, Research Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policies (right); and Guillaume Bourque, Director of the Canadian Centre for Computational Genomics.

Using big data techniques to analyze the function of human genes is already helping develop treatments tailored to individual patients. The more data researchers can access from across the world, the better chances of treating even rare diseases. But privacy and consent regulations differ by country, making sharing this information across borders slow and frustrating.

Researchers at McGill, in partnership with their international and Canadian colleagues, are developing new tools and frameworks to solve this problem, so that scientists anywhere in the world can openly contribute and access information.

We sat down to talk epigenetics, open science and personalized medicine with Guillaume Bourque, Director of the Canadian Centre for Computational Genomics, and Yann Joly, Research Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policies.

Read more here

McGill team part of international group of scientists that identify rare pediatric brain disorder

Susan Schwartz, Montreal Gazette

Emily Standen’s pregnancy was uneventful, but it was clear as soon as her daughter Mathilde Poliquin was born, in January of 2013 at the McGill University Health Centre‘s Royal Victoria Hospital, a month early, that there was a problem.

A pediatrician popped his head into the room and said, “I need to speak to the father.” Gabriel Poliquin remembers being told, “Something is wrong. We don’t know what it is.”

The baby was immediately transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit of the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Her head was smaller than normal and her neurological exam was “very abnormal,” recalled MUHC pediatric neurologist Geneviève Bernard, and she had severe epilepsy.

Read more here.

Designing precision tools to mine DNA data

Ludmer Centre Scientific Director Celia Greenwood secured over $600K in funding for new research, Precision Medicine in Cellular Epigenomic, from the recent Genome Canada competitions.

To understand brain development, researchers need to unlock the secrets of our DNA. Currently, we can collect data on multiple aspects of DNA, but to extract meaning from the ever-expanding data trove requires the right tools: sophisticated algorithms and software applications that automate complex analytical processes at the push of a button. Building these tools takes a highly skilled, transdisciplinary team. Funded by a new three-year Genome Canada Bioinformatics and Computational Biology grant, Dr Celia Greenwood has brought together a team of experts to advance tool-development for processing DNA methylation data. The end goal of the research program is to develop tools that will impact research across multiple disorders, physical and mental.

Read more here

Isabella Straub – McGill MedStar Award

For her publication entitled “Loss of CHCHD10–CHCHD2 complexes required for respiration underlies the pathogenicity of a CHCHD10 mutation in ALS “, Ph,D. candidate, Isabelle Straub (Supervisor: Dr. Eric Shoubridge) has been chosen to receive a McGill MedStar Award in recognition of the excellent research carried out in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Congratulations, Isabella!

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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

  • Mobility opportunity – Bourses Frontenac – Opprotunity for Masters students to study in France. Deadline for application May 1, 2019
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April 2019

  • April 15, 2019 at 1:00pm –  Guoyue Xu’s M.Sc. Seminar entitled “A mutation in Bisphosphoglycerate Mutase protects against malaria“.  Supervisor: Dr. Philippe Gros. To be held at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre, 1160 Pine Ave West, Rm 501
  • April 17, 2019 at 12:00pm – MRCCT Seminar Series welcomes Dr. Hua Wang, Wyss Institute, Harvard University.  Seminar entitled “Metabolic Cell Labeling for Cancer Targeting and Immunoengineering” To be held at the Goodman Cancer Research Centre, 1160 Pine ave West, Karp Amphitheatre, Rm 501
  • April 25, 2019 from 6:00 – 9:00pmCareer NightThe non-academic career path: Stories from PhDs for PhDs“.  To be held at Thomson HouseSee poster for registration details.
  • May 9, 2019 at 4:00pm – Supriya Behl’s M.Sc Seminar entitled “RAD51C c.705G>T Variant is Associated with Ovarian and Head and Neck Carcinomas in French-Canadians”. To be held at the MUHC, Glen Site, Rm EM1.3509
  • May 30, 2019 at 2:00pm DATE UPDATED – Saumeh Saeedi’s  M.Sc. Seminar entitled “Neural-derived biomarkers for antidepressant response from plasma exosomes“. Supervisor: Gustavo Turecki. To be held at The Douglas Institute, 6875 Boulevard Lasalle, Rm F-2119
  • May 31, 2019 from 6:30 to 10:00pm – HGSS End-of-Year Gala.  To be held at the Faculty Club, Billiards Room.  More information to come!

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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