Category Archives: News

Respiratory Research News from the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and the RESP program of the RI-MUHC. View our latest funding results, faculty and trainee awards, and our research featured in the media.

The Gnotobiotic Research Platform, under the leadership of Dr. Irah King, is open for business!

RI-MUHC Gnotobiotic Research Platform

The RI-MUHC Gnotobiotic Research Platform opened in March and will operate under the leadership of Dr. Irah King, an investigator based at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. The RI-MUHC and McGill University form a hub to integrate microbiome research activities. The platform is equipped with advanced technology that allows scientists to precisely control and change the microbial composition of experimental models to study infection and inflammation and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

“We want to provide McGill investigators and their partners with the infrastructure and resources for our university to become an international leader in translational microbiome studies.” 

Irah King

The Platform is physically located at the RI-MUHC and forms an integral part of the new McGill Centre for Microbiome Research.

“The primary objective of the McGill Centre for Microbiome Research is to offer a hub to integrate and synergize microbiome research activities, the outcomes of which will provide evidence-based knowledge for the benefit of medicine and public health.”

Irah King

Read the interview here:

The Gnotobiotic Research Platform is open for business. RI-MUHC News & Events, April 27, 2021.

Related News

Drivers of personalized medicine – Introducing your microbial self. RI-MUHC Annual Report 2020

The Gnotobiotic Research Platform is open for business. McGill Health e-News, April 28, 2021.

In 25 Seconds to Save Bella, Dr. Arnold Kristof talks about caring for a patient with extreme COVID-19 as well as delivering her baby.

25 Seconds to Save Bella

Dr. Arnold Kristof was recently interviewed by La Presse about a recent experience working in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He shares how the pediatric and adult hospitals came together to save a pregnant woman diagnosed with a severe form of COVID-19, and to deliver her child.

25 Seconds to Save Bella is a piece about a woman in intensive care who experienced severe symptoms of COVID-19 while pregnant. She was having a lot of difficulty breathing. The baby was pressing on her diaphragm, adding to her breathing difficulties. With the adult and pediatric hospitals working together, Dr. Kristof and the team succeeded in saving the mom and successfully delivered her daughter as well. No other hospital has succeeded at what this team of dedicated medical professionals at the MUHC accomplished. The key to their success, says Dr. Kristof:

“Il fallait agir vite pour sauver la mère et le bébé.”

Dr. Arnold Kristof

Teamwork and trust in the other members of the team are also essential elements for success.

During the pandemic, Dr. Kristof has maintained his research program at the Meakins while working in the MUHC Intensive Care Unit.

Read the article here:

Quebec's confusing COVID vaccine rollout plan affects the intellectually handicapped.

Confusion over COVID vaccine priority list

Alexander Grant, an MSc Graduate Student in the lab of Dr. Maziar Divangahi, speaks out about the confusion over the COVID-19 vaccine priority list for people with an intellectual handicap. Grant was interviewed by Global News last week, and is bringing attention to this issue as it affects him personally: his twin brother Jonathan is autistic and prior to Grant’s taking action, was not considered a priority for a vaccine.

The Quebec government website is said to be very confusing, prioritizing only certain disabilities, and the disabled living in specific environments, to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the general population. Regardless of the information on the website, some regional health authorities in Montreal are ignoring the government’s priority list and are more freely vaccinating people with disabilities.

When Julius Grey, a McGill Laureate and well-known human rights lawyer in Montreal, was approached by Grant and other families in the same predicament, a letter was sent to the government advising them of the intention to sue on behalf of these families. It was only at this point that the CIUSS telephoned Grant and confirmed his brother could have the vaccine. His brother is indeed fortunate to have someone to advocate on his behalf. Not everyone does.

Added to the daily stress of living with a disability, Jonathan and his family have been living with the stress of knowing how catching the virus and being required to live in complete isolation would complicate Jonathan’s life immensely, as it would many people with disabilities who require daily assistance. Fortunately, some municipalities are now offering a vaccine to these individuals, who should most certainly have been included on the priority list since the beginning.

Listen to the interview with Amanda Jelowicki here:

Read articles here:

Dr. Tania Janaudis-Ferreira is the winner of the 2021 CRHP Distinction Award.

2021 CRHP Distinction Award

Congratulations to Dr. Tania Janaudis-Ferreira, member of the RI-MUHC’s RESP Program, who has been awarded the CRHP Distinction Award for 2021 in recognition of her significant contributions to knowledge translation, teaching and mentorship.

Canadian Respiratory Health Professionals (CRHP) is the multi-disciplinary healthcare professional assembly of the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS).

The CRHP Distinction Award was created in 2014 to recognize a respiratory healthcare professional who is actively engaged in the mentorship of other healthcare professionals and who serves as role model for professionalism and volunteerism. Specifically, the award recognizes healthcare professionals who have enhanced respiratory care through unique or long term contributions.

This award is given to those who have made significant contributions to respiratory care over at least 5 consecutive years of CRHP membership, through involvement in CRHP and/or The Lung Association, at the local, regional and/or national level.

Read More

A colorimetric nanosurface fluidic platform for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing. Dao Nguyen received MI4 seed funding

Rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing

Dr. Dao Nguyen and Dr. Sara Mahshid receive MI4 Seed Funding to develop an ultrasensitive colorimetric fluidic assay for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are responsible for 700,000 deaths annually, a figure that is projected to rise to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if no action is taken to halt this global threat. The overuse of antibiotics and the prescription of antibiotics to which bacteria are not susceptible, contribute to the rise of antibiotic resistance. This proposal will develop an ultrasensitive colorimetric fluidic assay for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST). The project is anticipated to reduce the turnaround time of the AST to less than 1 hour compared to 3-4 days using conventional AST methods.

Read more about the project:

MI4 Seed Fund Grants – Round 3: A colorimetric nanosurface fluidic platform for rapid phenotypic antibiotic susceptibility testing (Dr. Dao Nguyen and Dr. Sara Mahshid)

Daniela Massierer wins a McGill MedStar Award for Trainees

McGill MedStar Award for Trainees

Congratulations to Daniela Massierer (supervisor: Tania Janaudis-Ferreira, PhD), a Postdoc Researcher in the McGill School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. Daniela won a McGill MedStar Award for tTainees for her work published in Clin.Transplant: Changes in 6-minute walking distance in lung transplant candidates while participating in a home-based pre-habilitation program-A retrospective chart review

The objective of the MedStar Award is to recognize the excellence of research done at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of McGill University by undergraduate (B.Sc.) and graduate students (M.Sc., Ph.D.), post doctoral fellows, and residents in all fields and disciplines covered by the Faculty, as well as to promote careers in health research.

March 24 is World TB Day, 2021 Over the next 10 years, Dr. Dick Menzies and the McGill International TB Centre will receive $17.2 million from the CIHR-III for TB Research.

World TB Day 2021

World TB Day 2021 was March 24. Dick Menzies is one of the researchers highlighted by the CIHR’s Institute of Infection and Immunity (CIHR-III), for his work in the field of tuberculosis (TB).

Over the past years the CIHR has provided substantial funding to Dr. Menzies and his research team at the TB Centre. Putting the funds to good use, Dr. Menzies has defined a treatment protocol for TB, which is now in use across North America. Now it is time to take that research further.

In response to a joint application made by CAB-V (Canada, Australia, Benin and Vietnam), an international network led by Dr. Menzies, the CIHR-III has awarded the McGill International TB Centre a further $17.2 million over the next ten years to continue its research and clinical trials on the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of TB. Further studies are being planned for the near future at sites and with co-investigators across Canada and around the world.

About Dr. Menzies:

Dr. Menzies is the Director of the McGill International TB Centre, Canada Research Chair in TB Research, member of the RI-MUHC RESP Program and Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories.

Read more about Dr. Menzies and TB Research here:

Meakins-Christie Laboratories welcomes Dr. Jun Ding, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine.

Dr. Jun Ding joins Meakins-Christie

Meakins-Christie Laboratories welcomes Dr. Jun Ding, Assistant Professor in McGill’s Department of Medicine. Dr. Ding joins us from Carnegie Mellon University, where he completed his postdoctoral studies in computational biology.

Dr. Ding’s lab will focus on studying cell dynamics in various biological processes in many diseases. His research interests include decoding cell dynamics, which are essential for understanding the mechanisms of many diseases, and his primary research is to develop machine learning approaches to jointly analyze, model, and visualize single-cell omics data.

It is time to improve treatment options for rare lung diseases such as progressive fibrosing interstitial lung disease.

Improving Outcomes for ILD Patients

As a specialist in Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, Ilan Azuelos, MD is an ardent promoter of improving outcomes for ILD patients. Treatment options for people with rare lung diseases, such as progressive fibrosing interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, may portend a life expectancy of between five and six and a half years after onset of symptoms. Dr. Azuelos knows that with research and education of the general public, this life expectancy can be improved.

“Ainsi, les personnes affligées de cette maladie seraient en mesure de passer plus de temps avec leur famille et de profiter au maximum de la vie.”

Ilan Azuelos, MD, MSc

Fortunately, programs have been initiated to address this area of medicine. MEDTEQ+, a pan-Canadian consortium for medical innovation, is bringing together industry leaders such as Boehringer Ingelheim Canada in partnership against PF-ILD. They aim to identify potential solutions to address the gaps in care for patients with IPD-PF, with the goal of accelerating access to treatments that delay the deterioration of lung function.

With the general public more aware of the symptoms of the onset of lung disease, patients could seek out treatment at an earlier stage. Increased funding for research would lead to a better understanding and the development of novel treatment options. Each would play an important role in a better, perhaps longer, life after diagnosis.

Read the following articles to learn more of the importance of improving education and treatment options for patients with ILD:

grants and awards received by scientists at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, RECRU, and the RESP Program of the RI-MUHC

COPD Catalyst Grant Awarded to Ben Smith

Dr. Benjamin M Smith was awarded a 1 year catalyst grant from the Canadian Lung Association Breathing as One – Boehringer Ingelheim Canada COPD Grant competition.

Grant title: Airway trees in the Anthropocene: A new paradigm for personalizing COPD prevention, prognosis, and pharmacotherapy.

About the project:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of death, disability, and health care cost in Canada. Cigarette smoking has long been considered the main cause of COPD, but despite an over 50% decline in smoking rates over 6 decades, the corresponding improvements in COPD outcomes have been modest. Furthermore, inhaled medicatiions for COPD provide only modest improvements in clinical outcomes and not all patients experience benefit. Clearly, we need to do better. The airway tree is the gateway for inhaled cigarette smoke and other harmful air pollutants, as well as inhaled COPD medications. Using state-of-the-art lung imaging, our team has shown that airway tree structure varies a lot in the general population, and this variation is a major COPD risk factor. A completely new hypothesis stemming from this work is that airway tree structure variation, common in the general population, determines someone’s susceptibility to harmful inhaled particles (e.g., cigarette smoke, air pollution) and the effectiveness of inhaled COPD medications. The proposed research will determine whether common variations in airway tree structure are associated with: 1. differences in how many inhaled particles deposit in the lung 2. differences in cigarette smoking-associated risk of COPD hospitalization or death 3. differences in response to inhaled COPD medication (i.e., a bronchodilator)

Dr. Benjamin M Smith is an Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University, member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and RECRU, and a scientist with the RESP Program of the RI-MUHC.