Public Release: 

The CHUM Research Centre presents its Awards of Excellence

University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)

Montreal, March 13, 2018 - The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) has announced the recipients of the 2017 Awards of Excellence. These awards recognize the outstanding performance of CHUM researchers in the area of health research. VIDÉO:

"I am proud to present these awards to our winners, who are leaders in their fields globally. The results of their work prove that research is essential for generating knowledge and tangible benefits for patients and the public," stated Dr. Vincent Poitout, Director of Research at the CHUM and Scientific Director of the CRCHUM.

Alex Parker., Ph. D. and Pierre Drapeau, Ph. D., Award of Excellence - Scientific Contribution of the Year

Researchers Alex Parker and Pierre Drapeau discovered a promising drug for treating people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Experiments conducted on worms, zebrafish, mice, and on human subjects during a limited clinical trial, conclude favourably as to the potential efficacy of pimozide. This drug, prescribed to treat schizophrenia, may prove valuable in ALS. The results of their work were published in the journal JCI Insight in November 2017.

"This is a major scientific advance. Only two approved treatments exist for this fatal disease at this time. We think that pimozide will be more effective in improving the quality of life of patients," declared Parker, a CRCHUM researcher and professor at the Université de Montréal.

"The CHUM is currently taking part in a national clinical trial with 100 patients to verify the safety and efficacy of pimozide in these volunteers. If the results of this study conducted by Dr. Lawrence Korngut at the University of Calgary are conclusive, we will quickly be able to offer pimozide to ALS patients," hoped Drapeau, a CRCHUM researcher and professor at the Université de Montréal.

Marie-Hélène Mayrand, M.D., Ph. D., Award of Excellence - Young Researcher

A researcher and gynaecologist at the CHUM, Dr. Marie-Hélène Mayrand has earned the 2017 Research Award of Excellence in the "young researcher" category, which recognizes the outstanding scientific contribution of a researcher whose research program has been in existence for less than ten years.

A medical specialist and epidemiologist, Mayrand conducts research in the area of women's health, contributing to improving gynaecological cancer screening and preventing human papillomavirus (HPV)-related diseases. She is also interested in optimizing professional Ob-GYN (obstetrics and gynaecology) practices. The recipient of salary awards and several large research grants, she has already published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to more than a hundred conferences in Quebec, Canada and abroad.

She also collaborates with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) and the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) to produce public health advisories related to cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination.

Julie Bruneau, M.D., M. Sc., Award of Excellence - Career

A researcher and doctor, the head of the CHUM's Department of General Medicine, and a professor at the Université de Montréal, Dr. Julie Bruneau is a leader in addiction medicine. She has earned the 2017 Research Award of Excellence in the "career" category in recognition of her exceptional scientific contribution and her leadership throughout her career.

Early in her career, Bruneau quickly noticed that drug users were often discriminated in the health system. The fight against inequalities in the provision of healthcare to drug addicts became the issue that determined the path of her research career. In 1988, with Drs. François Lamothe, Jean Vincelette, Eduardo Franco and Julio Soto, she piloted the first Canadian study on the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among people who inject drugs. Through the years, her work and public pronouncements have helped change perceptions about, and approaches to, people who use drugs. In particular, she demonstrated the importance of the role of needle exchange programs and the efficacy of agonist treatments in the prevention of HIV and hepatitis C infections.

"A lot of work still has to be done to eliminate inequalities and the way we look at healthcare provision to drug users," asserted Bruneau.

As the director of the Quebec - Atlantic node of the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), Bruneau pilots many innovative projects aiming to resolve the opioid crisis.

"With the current opioid crisis, we are saving lives. But we cannot stop at just managing overdose cases. We have to be sure that those who take opioids have access to the best healthcare possible and that they are considered full-fledged citizens in society. Ultimately, my hope would be for people who use drugs to be entitled to accessible, nondiscriminatory health care and services, wherever they may be along the path of their chronic illness called addiction," concluded Bruneau.


About the CRCHUM's Research Awards of Excellence

Bestowed annually since 2012, the CRCHUM's Research Awards of Excellence are honorary awards given to CHUM researchers who make significant contributions to the advancement of health research. The awardees are chosen from among the institution's approximately 150 regular researchers.

For more information

View the profiles of each of the recipients to find out more about their research interests and scientific publications and for links to archived press releases related to their research.

Alex Parker:

Pierre Drapeau:

Marie-Hélène Mayrand:

Julie Bruneau:

About the CRCHUM

The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) is one of the largest hospital-based research centres located in North America. Our mission is to improve adult health through a research continuum that encompasses basic science, population health and clinical research. More than 1,750 people work at the CRCHUM, including 439 researchers and 700 students and research fellows.


Isabelle Girard
Communications and Media Relations - CRCHUM
+1 514 890-8000, ext. 12725

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