null Fifty years of excellence in respiratory research

The Meakins-Christie Laboratories joined the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program for an inspiring celebration of respiratory research, past and present


The year 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories – but the realities of the pandemic meant that this impressive milestone could not be properly celebrated at that time. Combining Meakins-Christie’s jubilee celebrations with the 2023 Annual Respiratory Research Day piloted by the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases (RESP) Program of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) was a fitting solution. This celebration of respiratory research, both past and present, was held in Montreal on May 17 and 18, 2023.

The 50th anniversary event took the form of a two-day research symposium. Jointly organized by the RESP Program and Meakins-Christie administrative staff, with the support of Dr. Basil Petrof, Director of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, the symposium brought together more than 180 respiratory researchers from around the world, including current faculty, trainees and alumni of the Meakins Christie Laboratories and the RESP Program. A reception at the Maude Abbott Medical Museum opened the event. The guest list included Dr. Jonathan L. Meakins, grandson of Dr. Jonathan C. Meakins, the eminent respiratory researcher who, with his colleague Dr. Ronald Christie, lent his name to the Meakins-Christie Laboratories in 1972.

Dr. Petrof and Dr. David Eidelman, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University, gave opening remarks at the symposium. Recognizing the pioneering role of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories in respiratory physiology and medicine, both spoke of the sterling reputation built by its founders and early members, and their success in attracting top trainees from around the world. Many of these alumni now provide leadership in respiratory research in their home institutions and in international pulmonary and thoracic societies. The speakers emphasized how the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and the RESP Program have helped to drive innovation in fundamental discovery science for the benefit of respiratory patients in clinical care.

Dr. Darcy Wagner from Lund University, a world leader in regenerative lung medicine, gave the keynote Macklem lecture, titled “Building a lung from scratch: a new frontier to study human disease and to generate transplantable tissue units.” The Macklem Lecture honours Dr. Peter Macklem, co-founder and first director of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories from 1972 until 1979. The closing banquet for speakers and alumni included a tribute to another former Meakins-Christie director, Dr. Joseph Milic-Emili, who passed away in 2022. Dr. Milic-Emili trained countless students and fellows from all over the world, exerting a profound impact on their approach to science, research and mentorship.

The research symposium featured oral presentations from faculty and invited guests in two morning sessions. Topics included current research themes ranging from developmental origins of lung diseases, immunity and lung infections, to mentorship and career development. Two former postdoctoral fellows, Eva Kaufmann, PhD, now appointed at Queen’s University, and Erwan Pernet, PhD, appointed at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, spoke about their new research programs as independent scientists. They also spoke about their postdoctoral experiences, particularly praising the mentoring they had received as key to transitioning to their own research labs.

Each afternoon featured oral presentations and an interactive poster session. From 62 submissions by respiratory residents, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, six were selected for oral presentations, while the others were invited to present in the poster session. Seven trainees took home awards for the excellent science reflected in best oral and poster presentations.

Oral presentation awards

Tom Podolsky (Supervisor: Basil Petrof)
Intermittent Glucocorticoid Therapy Prevents Signs of Trained Innate Immunity in Macrophages from Muscular Dystrophy (mdx) Mice

Amanda Marino (Supervisor: Deborah Assayag)
Racial Disparities in Lung Biopsies for Interstitial Lung Diseases in Canada

Poster presentation awards

Wided Akik (Supervisor: Larry Lands)
Synergistic Implications of IL-17A in the Modulation of Neutrophilic Airway Inflammation by Bronchial Epithelial Cells

Mina Sadeghi (Supervisor: Maziar Divangahi)
Regulation of the bone marrow iron metabolism in hematopoiesis and host defense against TB

Coralie Geric (Supervisor: Faiz Ahmad Khan)
Incorporation of clinical factors to improve the diagnostic accuracy of artificial intelligence-based chest X-ray analysis for detecting pulmonary tuberculosis

Eszter Farkas (Supervisor: Dao Nguyen)
Production of antimicrobials in Canadian High Arctic Bacteria

Amanda Scanga (Supervisor: Marta Kaminska)
Effect of Long-acting Levodopa on Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Parkinson’s Disease (ELO-PD trial): Preliminary Results

We invite interested readers to learn more about the Meakins-Christie Laboratories and its impressive 50-year history of driving innovations in respiratory disease prevention, diagnosis and therapy.

June 28, 2023