Category Archives: Faculty

View recent posts and news from our faculty members. For our faculty profiles, read more here: https://www.meakinsmcgill.com/faculty-members/ 

Cannabis-Centre-Launch-Dean-Eidelman-Baglole-Quenneville-Thompson

McGill Research Centre for Cannabis holds Inaugural Science and Research Day

The new McGill Research Centre for Cannabis held its inaugural Science and Research Day on Thursday, October 17, 2019, at the RI-MUHC. The event took place one year following the federal government’s 2018 legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use.

During the event, opening remarks were provided by Dr. Baglole, Dr. David Eidelman (Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Dean of Medicine) and Julie Quenneville (MUHC Foundation President).

Canada is uniquely positioned to establish international precedents to inform on cannabis use and policy for countries around the world. The mission of the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis is to offer a hub for integrated cannabis-related research activities. These activities span agriculture/plant sciences, chemistry, biomedical and socioeconomics. The outcomes of this research will provide evidence based knowledge and greatly impact cannabis-related decisions/policies surrounding health, society and law.

Dr. Carolyn Baglole is the Centre’s Director. Read more about how the centre will focus its research efforts on increasing our evidence-based knowledge about the biomedical, horticultural and legal aspects of cannabis use. Specifically, the RI-MUHC and Faculty of Medicine team will look at the biomedical potential of cannabis, including cannabis-based immune therapy; product safety; customized delivery methods; and precision medicine. 

Read the complete article here: https://publications.mcgill.ca/medenews/2019/10/24/inaugural-science-and-research-day-for-the-mcgill-research-centre-for-cannabis/

McGill Research Centre for Cannabis: https://www.mcgill.ca/cannabis/

Scientists-from-McGill-University-and-the-Research-Institute-of-the-MUHC-visit-Braunschweig

Meakins faculty delegation to Braunschweig

Six members of the RI-MUHC took part in a delegation to the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig. Among them were Drs. Irah King, Dao Nguyen, and Maziar Divangahi.

The delegation was part of working visit by McGill University and the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4). Presentations were on selected research topics related to infection including global health, the role of microbiota in infections and personalized medicine.

Read more here on the RI-MUHC News and McGill News websites:

MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform and Dr. Irah King

MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform

The MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform has launched!

We are pleased to announce that the launch phase for the MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform is underway! Based at the RI-MUHC Glen Site, the MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform will provide infrastructure, experimental consultation and training for investigators in the McGill community interested in performing germ-free or gnotobiotic animal studies. Congratulations to Dr. Irah King, Director of the MI4 Gnotobiotic Animal Research Platform, for all of his hard work to date.

We carry almost two kilograms of microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses collectively referred to as microbiota) in and on our bodies that have potent effects on diseases ranging from diabetes and cancer to neurodegeneration. To understand the function of these complex microbial communities, the use of small animals, such as mice, raised under germ-free conditions (i.e. devoid of all microorganisms) offers a blank canvas onto which known communities of microbes (i.e. gnotobiotic) may be “painted” and studied.

MI4 looks forward to collaborating with Dr. King in the months and years ahead, including via provision of $1 million in funding support over four years. Through its Platforms initiative, MI4 is developing and supporting innovative, open access technological platforms staffed with highly trained personnel which provide support for infection and immunity research across the McGill community.

For more information: https://www.mcgill.ca/mi4/mi4-supported-research/platforms

gut microbiome research

Quebec Microbiome Research Symposium

Congratulations to Dr. Irah King and Dr. Lucie Côté from the RI-MUHC who successfully organized the first Quebec Microbiome Research Symposium! The event was held September 16, 2019 at the RI-MUHC.

More than 100 participants attended this event that brought together researchers and technical specialists involved in microbiome research.

We thank our partners and sponsors that made this event possible: the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (Mi4), Tecniplast and Idexx BioAnalytics.

Carolyn Baglole: Director of the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis

Research in the era of legal cannabis

Dr. Carolyn Baglole is the director of the new McGill Research Centre for Cannabis. This centre is positioning itself to examine the role of cannabis, all the way from plants, to people, to policy. She was recently interviewed by McGill News.

Read the full article here: So much to discover: Research in the era of legal cannabis
More about the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis: https://www.mcgill.ca/cannabis/
(photo by Owen Egan)

Is this centre the first of its kind?

It’s not the first, but it is one of the most comprehensive; this centre will be going from plants to people to policy. That means we will focus on three research axes. [Researchers in] agriculture and plant sciences will conduct fundamental studies on the plant itself – crop management, for example. Our biomedical research axis will encompass both pre-clinical and clinical studies – for example, looking at pain management, and sleep. We also have a socioeconomics and law axis, which focuses on a broad range of financial, legal, policy, regulatory and educational matters emerging from legalization.

Is this an emerging area of research, and was it inhibited, in the past, by taboos?

Issues surrounding legality and social stigma have hampered research. As a result, there is so much information, on all fronts, that we lack. Legalization has really opened the floodgates for cannabis research.

This is important not just because of legalization, but also because of the medicinal use of cannabis?

Yes, we need to understand the potential medicinal applications. We want to understand the growth of the plant, how that affects its chemicals and how they work to alleviate disease symptoms.

One of your goals is to separate myths from reality?

Yes, that is really about being open in our scientific quest. We want to let the data and the science unfold, learning what that story is telling us. Ultimately, the science will inform us as to what is true and what is not.

Why is it essential that the centre be trans-disciplinary?

We can learn from each other. For example, I am involved in the biomedical axis; our colleagues from agriculture and plant sciences may be able to identify a strain of cannabis that produces chemicals which can then be applied in a biomedical setting.

Trans-disciplinary research is really about being comprehensive in our research approach. We combine one person’s area of expertise with that of another, in order to understand a subject as a whole. As compared to isolated projects, we gain a more fundamental understanding.

Dragonfly wings are naturally antibacterial - article with Dao Nguyen

Dragonfly wings in the hospital

Did you know that dragonfly wings are naturally antibacterial?

Biofilms are colonies of bacteria that can attach securely to the surface of certain medical devices. Shockingly, a quarter of all nosocomial infections are reported to be associated with the use of infected equipment, based on American data.

RI-MUHC researcher Dao Nguyen shares some thoughts on combatting biofilms in this short article from Quebec Science. Her research team is looking at the wings of dragonflies and cicadas to better design safe antibacterial materials. Nanometric structures on dragaonfly and cicada wings actually kill bacteria by physical contact. Therefore, there is great interest to design and develop antibacterial materials that mimic this natural structure.

The research team will observe interactions between bacteria and these newly designed materials, then test the most promising against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacteria responsible for hospital-acquired infections as well as fatal infections in people with cystic fibrosis. It has an ability to form biofilms and is naturally resistant to many drugs.

If the results are conclusive, the materials may eventually be used on a large scale to make safer medical devices and instruments.

Read the full article here (in French).

CCIC Researcher Profile – Dr. Carolyn Baglole

Dr. Carolyn Baglole was featured in the July 2019 CCIC Newsletter. Her research was profiled in their monthly research highlights. Read the newsletter excerpt below.

Dr. Baglole received her BSc and MSc from the University of Prince Edward Island, and completed her PhD at the University of Calgary. She then did postdoctoral work in the fields of lung biology/toxicology in the Department of Environment Medicine at the University of Rochester (Rochester NY) before returning to Canada at McGill University.

Dr. Baglole’s translational research program seeks to identify novel cellular and molecular pathways that regulate the pathogenesis of chronic lung diseases. Her main research focus is to understand how these environmental exposures contribute to pathogenic mechanisms such as chronic inflammation and cell death (apoptosis) that drive the development of diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

In relation to the CCIC, her lab is currently examining how various forms of inhaled cannabis and/or cannabinoids affects lung and immune function. Using pre-clinical models, her team will investigate activation of cellular signaling pathways by exposure to cannabis/cannabinoids, how cannabis exposure effects immune cell numbers and function and whether newer forms of inhaled cannabis products impact lung function. Working with clinicians and other scientists, she is developing an interdisciplinary program for biomedical cannabis research to explore the full potential of cannabis and cannabinoids in human health and disease. For this, she will have a state-of-the-art inhalation facility. This is important, as the most common way to consume cannabis is through inhalation (of smoke or vaporized cannabis/cannabinoids). With this, she will be able to deliver inhaled cannabis and cannabis-derived cannabinoids/novel drugs in a real-world scenario to assess efficacy in disease models and understand the immune-medicated mechanisms involved in the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis.

Read more about Dr. Baglole: https://www.meakinsmcgill.com/baglole/

Read more about the McGill Research Centre for Cannabis: https://mcgill.ca/cannabis/



respiratory research grant results at the meakins-christie laboratories

Funding News – CIHR Project Grant

Congratulations to the following Spring 2019 Project Grant Recipients

Dr. Sushmita Pamidi received funding for her project co-led with Evelyn Constantin (CHHD program) entitled “Maternal sleep-disordered breathing during pregnancy and long-term health outcomes in children: the 3D pregnancy and birth cohort”. Dr. John Kimoff is a co-investigator on the grant.

Dr. Larry Lands is a co-applicant with Dr. Michael Parkins (University of Calgary) for the grant entitled “The influence of Cytomegalovirus infection on cystic fibrosis disease progression”.

View full CIHR Funding Decisions for the 2019 Spring Project Grant Competition.

Dorival Martins Relève étoile Jacques-Genest

Dr. Dorival Martins receives the Relève étoile Jacques-Genest Award

Congratulations to Dorival Martins Jr, postdoctoral fellow in Biochemistry, McGill University (supervisor: Dr. Dao Nguyen) for his Relève étoile Jacques-Genest award from the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) for the month of July.

Winning article: Martins D, McKay G, Sampathkumar G, Khakimova M, English AM, Nguyen D. Superoxide dismutase activity confers (p)ppGpp-mediated antibiotic tolerance to stationary-phase Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018 Sep 25;115(39):9797-9802. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1804525115. Epub 2018 Sep 10. PMID: 30201715

Read the full news release here.

Dr. Erwan Pernet and Dr. Maziar Divangahi, scientists at the RI-MUHC and the Meakins-Christie Laboratories have identified a lipid target to tone down the hyper-active immunity to influenze infection

Flu treatment using lipid target

Dr. Maziar Divangahi and his postdoctoral fellow Dr. Erwan Pernet are on a promising path towards developing flu treatment using a lipid target. They identified a new role for the lipid mediator Leukotriene B4 in the lung. In a study published in Nature Microbiology, they show that the LTB4 molecule is capable of not only reducing collateral tissue damage caused by immune responses but also enhancing host survival.

“The influenza virus is not the only threat; the host’s own immune response is mainly responsible for jeopardizing host survival. Therefore, it is essential to understand the regulatory mechanisms that maintain the tight balance between protective and harmful immunity.”

– Erwan Pernet

Influenza remains a global public health challenge, according to the World Health Organization. Each year, there are an estimated one billion people cases worldwide, resulting in 290,000 to 650,000 influenza-related respiratory deaths.

Dr. Divangahi’s laboratory has focused on new immunotherapies targeting the immune system via host lipid mediators to either effectively kill the virus or limit lung tissue damage. In this study, they focused on the LTB4 lipid mediator and its effects on the immune response to flu infection. After working with mice lacking the receptor for LTB4, they were able to identify a network of regulatory mechanisms that maintain the tight balance between protective and harmful immunity. Also, of particular importance to future clinical studies was the finding that a single dose of LTB4 at the peak of disease was enough to significantly reduce lung immunopathology and tissue damage and improve host survival. 

“For the first time we show there is a subtype of macrophages in the lungs that are able to produce this immunoregulatory lipid (LTB4) to reduce the inflammation caused by another macrophage population that is responsible for causing lung tissue damage during influenza infection.”

– Maziar Divangahi

View the full publication here:

Leukotriene B4-type I interferon axis regulates macrophage-mediated disease tolerance to influenza infection. Pernet E, Downey J, Vinh DC, Powell WS, Divangahi M. Nat Microbiol. 2019 May 20. doi: 10.1038/s41564-019-0444-3. PMID: 31110361

The research was also featured in the CIHR-III (institute of Infection and Immunity) newsletter!

View articles and interviews about this research: