Program Overview

The Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program (RESP) builds upon the success of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and the Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit to further bring together basic, clinical, population health and outcomes researchers in both adult and pediatric medicine. The program is organized around four primary research themes: chronic airways disease, sleep-disordered breathing, neuromuscular dysfunction associated with respiratory disease, and pulmonary inflammation and infections. RESP researchers recognize that an interdisciplinary approach is essential for understanding and ultimately better diagnosing as well as treating conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sleep apnea, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis and neurological or musculoskeletal diseases affecting the respiratory system. Our researchers benefit from the state-of-the-art technology platforms available at the new RI-MUHC facilities, such as the Molecular Imaging and Histopathology Platforms, as well as being equally well-equipped to conduct high quality clinical trials and outcomes research through the Centre for Innovative Medicine (CIM) and the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE).

 

 Dr. Basil Petrof is a Professor of Medicine at McGill University and Associate Director of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. He is a practicing physician specialized in respiratory and sleep medicine, a member of the Department of Experimental Medicine and associate member in the Department of Neurology. His research interests are both clinical and basic, and he is an expert in respiratory muscle pathologies associated with muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnea, sepsis, and the use of mechanical ventilation. Dr. Petrof's research has led to over 100 peer-reviewed publications (e.g., PNAS, PLoS Genet, EMBO Mol Med), was recognized by a National Researcher (Chercheur National) award, and has been funded by a variety of federal, provincial, and not-for profit sources (CIHR, FRQS, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation). Dr. Petrof has taken a leadership role within the research community: a past vice-president of the FRQS Réseau en santé respiratoire, he regularly chairs and organizes symposia at international meetings and is a member of numerous grant panels. As the RESP Program Leader, he will continue to promote interdisciplinary research, take an active role in the mentorship of new faculty members, and work to ensure the success of collaborative research partnerships within and beyond the RI-MUHC community.

 Dr. Maziar Divangahi is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at McGill University based at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories. He is a member of the McGill International TB Centre and associate member in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Pathology. A pulmonary immunologist, his research program focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in cross-talk between innate and adaptive immunity, with a particular emphasis on pulmonary infectious diseases. Dr. Divangahi has been working collaboratively with national and international experts in various fields to develop a multi-faceted program against two major pulmonary pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and influenza virus (e.g. H1N1), that pose serious threats to humans. Throughout his career, he has published in outstanding journals (Nature Immunology, Immunity, J Clin Invest, J Exp Med, PNAS) and received numerous awards, including a CIHR New Investigator Award, FRQS Award, and most recently the CIHR Foundation grant. Dr. Divangahi has been actively involved in promoting a vibrant research culture at the Meakins-Christie Laboratories; he organizes a weekly seminar series featuring local and international speakers and organized the first international symposium for "Innate Immunity in Pulmonary Diseases" at McGill University. As Associate Leader of the RESP Program, he will further develop the respiratory research training program to foster the mentoring and future success of the next generation of respiratory scientists.

Dr. Ronald Olivenstein is an Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University and the Medical Director of the Montreal Chest Institute, where he directs the asthma clinic. His research interests include clinical trials in asthma and COPD, investigations into airway inflammation in severe asthma and innovative therapies such as bronchial thermoplasty (published in NEJM). Dr. Olivenstein has collaborated extensively with industry in testing the effects of novel therapeutic agents in asthma and has helped to establish a well-characterized severe asthma cohort at the Montreal Chest Institute. His clinical research unit at the Montreal Chest Institute consists of nurses, respiratory therapists and science graduates and comprises a Pulmonary Function Testing lab, exercise lab, bronchoscopy and induced sputum facilities, as well as a tissue bank. Dr. Olivenstein collaborates closely with members of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and is affiliated with the Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit (RECRU). As Associate Leader, Dr. Olivenstein will help bridge the gaps between basic, clinical, and population health investigations, encouraging the delivery of research results that will ultimately improve the respiratory health of Canadians.

Dr. Inga Murawski received her doctorate in human genetics from McGill University. Her graduate studies focused on the genetic and developmental orgins of pediatric kidney and urinary tract abnormalities. Following this, she joined the Institute of Cancer Research at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), where she helped develop the CIHR Personalized Medicine Signature Initiative, was involved in the development of strategic funding opportunities, and actively helped organize conferences, workshops, new Investigator meetings and Cafés Scientifiques.