Category Archives: Research Themes

Pulmonary Research Themes

According to the WHO, respiratory disorders are leading causes of death world-wide (second only to heart attack & stroke). These include diseases such as obstructive lung diseases and pulmonary infections. As a result, our research is focused around four main pulmonary research themes. These include: chronic airways disease, lung injury and infection, neuromuscular dysfunction in respiratory diseases, and sleep-disordered breathing.

Above all, a multidisciplinary approach is used to study the basic mechanisms of a number of diseases. These include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary infections, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, respiratory muscle disorders, pulmonary fibrosis, lung injury, and rare respiratory diseases. Research at the Meakins also involves the study of human physiology and tissues in parallel with relevant animal and cell culture models. Furthermore, research is facilitated by the availability of a variety of core facilities for both clinical and fundamental studies.

Learn more about our research themes here.

Below you will see posts and news items related to our research themes.

Dr. Jean Bourbeau named 2019 distinguished CHEST Educator

Jean Bourbeau named distinguished CHEST Educator

Dr. Jean Bourbeau was honoured as a 2019 Distinguished CHEST Educator by the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST). He also received this recognition in 2017 and 2018. The designation provides recognition of excellence in continuing medical education, placing Dr. Bourbeau within the top 4% of CHEST faculty worldwide.

Congratulations Dr. Bourbeau!

“The greatest achievement someone can consider is seen in the people we train. Real values in what we are doing in medicine, besides taking care of patients, live by being handed down to others,” … “CHEST has given me the privilege over the years to advance best patient outcomes through innovative chest medicine education. However, this would not have been possible without the contribution of all the people working with me, in particular those at the MUHC and McGill University, and my patients who have always been an inspiration.”

Dr. Jean Bourbeau

About the award: The Distinguished CHEST Educator designation recognizes the achievements of members who have made significant and long-term contributions to the leadership, development, and delivery of CHEST education by serving as CHEST committee chairs, vice-chairs, faculty, content developers, members, and peer reviewers for programs and activities, such as CHEST Annual Meeting, CHEST Board Review courses, CHEST SEEK™ education, Live Learning, CHEST Immersion, e-Learning, and more.

Dr. Bourbeau is a member of RECRU, the RI-MUHC RESP Program, and an associate member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. His research expertise are in COPD, rehabilitation, disease and self-management (Living Well with COPD — livingwellwithcopd.com), health and behaviour, and clinical evaluative research.

Read the full article here on McGill e-News

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

The World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Programme and the WHO Collaborating Centre in TB Research at McGill University, Montreal, Canada convened a two-day technical consultation on research on latent TB infection

Research on Latent TB Infection

Technical consultation on latent TB infection management: Research for scale-up and target regimen profiles.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Programme and the WHO Collaborating Centre in TB Research at McGill University, convened a two-day technical consultation on research on latent TB infection.

The first day of the meeting focused on research needs to overcome key barriers and knowledge gaps affecting the scale-up of TB preventive treatment. Experts reviewed recent advances in diagnosis and treatment of LTBI and shared implementation experience generated over the past 5 years. A revised priority list of research topics was discussed, covering diagnosis, treatment and implementation research. 

Dr. Dick Menzies was interviewed. Dr. Menzies is a RESP Program member and an Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories was interviewed. His research focuses on clinical and epidemiologic aspects of tuberculosis. His clinical research involves diagnosis of latent as well as active TB.

Read more here.

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).

Dr. Jean Bourbeau was interviewed by Radio-Canada TV show "24/60" about the dangers of vaping.

Potential hazards of vaping products

Dr. Jean Bourbeau was interviewed by Radio-Canada TV show “24/60” about the dangers of vaping.

Health Canada issued warnings about the potential hazards of vaping products. Watch the interview with Dr. Jean Bourbeau for the Radio-Canada show “24/60” on this very topic. Note, his interview begins at around 36 minutes.

This video is available in French only. 

Les dangers du vapotage

Santé Canada a émis aujourd’hui des mises en garde quant aux dangers potentiels des produits de vapotage. Des centaines de personnes ont été hospitalisées aux États-Unis et au moins un décès est attribuable à la cigarette électronique. Devrait-on s’inquiéter?

Dr. Jean Bourbeau is a RESP Program member and an Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. His research focuses primarily on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and secondarily on disease management, self-management, pulmonary rehabilitation and cardiorespiratory exercise physiology.

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/