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angle-left Meet our research program managers

With seven new research programs launched at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI‑MUHC) this year, one top priority for program leaders has been finding the manager who has what it takes to administer each program. 

"We looked for candidates with experience in leading multidisciplinary teams, particularly in pharmaceutical research," said Dr. Simon Wing, leader of the Experimental Therapeutics and Metabolism Program (ETM). The Child Health and Human Development Program (CHHD) manager is expected "to bring together researchers based at the Centre for Translational Biology and at the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation towards integrated projects and funding, as well as to network with other programs at the RI‑MUHC," according to Dr. Constantin Polychronakos, CHHD program leader.

Meet the individuals who have stepped up to this challenge and organized a full slate of inaugural events for the RI-MUHC programs this fall.

Dominique J. Favreau, PhD
Manager, Cardiovascular Health Across the Lifespan Program (CHAL)
in immunology and virology from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique with awards in leadership
  • What he brings to the CHAL Program: "More than ten years of experience in project and financial management, administration and communications, earned in academia, industry and hospitals. My work as a technology transfer advisor at the CHU-Ste-Justine and Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont led me to fully appreciate the realities that challenge clinicians in a research environment."
  • On his own time: "I'm a do-it-yourselfer, financial advisor and father of two."
  • A scientist he admires: "The work of Dr. Henri Laborit, a neurobiologist and philosopher, was a turning point in my life. I was moved by Biologie et structure, a philosophical and scientific essay on which the theory of complexity, auto-organization and cybernetics was based. Laborit was a visionary in the 1950s, long before John Connor!"
Noha Gerges, PhD
Manager, Child Health and Human Development Program (CHHD)
 in cancer genetics from McGill University
  • What she brings to the CHHD Program: "With several years of event planning, web design and organizational experience and a doctorate resulting in a Nature Genetics publication, I feel well positioned to manage the Child Health and Human Development Program. After easing 31 wet labs into the Glen site in winter 2015, I understand what it takes to be successful in this new environment: patience, creativity and collaboration."
  • On her own time: "I'm an experimental baker. I always read recipes but never follow them."
  • A scientist she admires: "Having been mesmerized by the field of genetics since my childhood, it should come as no surprise that one of the scientists I most admire contributed massively to that field. Rosalind Franklin was the X-ray crystallographer responsible for the pictures that uncovered the structure of DNA, thus illuminating and forever changing our views on DNA, genetics, and everything in between."
Jing Liu, PhD
Manager, Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program (IDIGH)
 in genetics and genomics from McGill University; post-doctoral training at Harvard University
  • What she brings to the IDIGH Program: "I'm experienced in managing operations, business development and administration of academic core facilities. I've been responsible for streamlining R&D workflows for increased productivity in management positions at biotech companies. I also directed a multidisciplinary research group that integrated genomics, proteomics and pre-clinical studies towards discovery of new antibiotics."
  • On her own time: "I'm a passionate gardener and webmaster in my leisure hours. I've created and maintain numerous websites, including one for my neighbourhood horticultural society."
  • A scientist she admires: "I particularly admire Tu Youyou, the first female Chinese Nobel Prize winner for Medicine (2015), who doesn't even have a medical degree or a PhD! The result of her malaria research has saved millions of lives. The journey to this top honour has been only through her drive, passion, hard work and persistence."
Inga Murawski, PhD
Manager, Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program (RESP)
 in human genetics from McGill University; graduate work focused on genetic and developmental orgins of pediatric kidney and urinary tract abnormalities
  • What she brings to the RESP Program: "At the Institute of Cancer Research at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), I helped develop the CIHR Personalized Medicine Signature Initiative. I was also involved in the development of strategic funding opportunities and actively helped organize conferences, workshops, New Investigators meetings and Cafés Scientifiques."
  • On her own time: "In my free time I try to keep two toddlers under control, which I've come to accept as being impossible!"
  • A scientist she admires: "My Polish family insisted I admire all Polish scientists when I was growing up. This resulted in a fascination with Copernicus, which inspired two high school science fair projects as well as many undergrad electives in astrobiology."
Michel Paré, PhD
Manager, Experimental Therapeutics and Metabolism Program (ETM)
 in neuroscience from the Université de Montréal; postdoctoral work at Albany Medical College and McGill University focused on neuropathy of peripheral nerves
  • What he brings to the ETM Program: "Ten years of experience in drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry, entrepreneurial spirit and experience, and team leadership experience."
  • On his own time: "My interests range from carpentry to biotechnology entrepreneurship."
  • A scientist he admires: "Santiago Ramon y Cajal. If published today, Ramon y Cajal's descriptive work would probably merely make it to second-tier scientific journals. Yet his great sense of observation and reasoning has built the foundation for modern neurobiology. Neuroscientists are still testing hypotheses he put forward more than 100 years ago by simply scrutinizing silver-stained brain cells."
Freya Vercauteren, PhD
Manager, Cancer Research Program (CRP)
 in neurological disease prediction from McGill University; postdoctoral research on personalized medicine at the Université de Montréal
  • What she brings to the CRP Program: "I gained experience as an R&D manager at a biomedical company specialized in clinical and research data management. In my graduate work I specialized in research on cancer, pain, and neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. I therefore also bring expertise in proteomics, immunology, genomics, molecular biology and imaging to the management of the Cancer Research Program."
  • On her own time: "I have a passion for arts and culinary experiments. I support art therapy for a variety of diseases and I'm interested in the influence of nutrients on disease prevention and prognosis."
  • Scientists she admires: "I would like to congratulate all clinical and basic science researchers, research associates, postdocs and students of the Cancer Research Program for their dedication and determination to build an internationally renowned research program, combining their specialties in a wide variety of research fields and aiming to cure and prevent cancer."
New arrival in December 2015
Marie St-Laurent, PhD
Manager, Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience (BRaIN) Program
Doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from the University of Toronto
  • What she brings to the BRaIN Program: "Fifteen years of experience conducting neuroscience research in Montreal and Toronto. I have used molecular biology, lesion studies, functional brain imaging and cognitive tasks in clinical human populations, which makes me well prepared to represent and advocate for the variety of scientific activities conducted in the BRaIN program."
  • On her own time: "My two-year-old makes me watch a lot of Peppa Pig. I sneak out of the house to play soccer and hockey from time to time."
  • A scientist she admires: "McGill's very own Brenda Milner is a pioneer and an icon. Some of her discoveries have defined the field of cognitive neuroscience, and she's still an active member of the research community. Into her 90s now, she can still be found in her lab."

Photos–Joanne Krief


--Newsletter Fall 2015