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A Hub for Discoveries and Training

A new director of the obesity–type 2 diabetes–metabolism research component appointed

During the last year, Dr. André Tchernof was appointed director of the obesity–type 2 diabetes–metabolism research component. Dr. Tchernof has many years of experience in the field of the obesity-related research. A full professor since 2000 at Université Laval’s School of Nutrition, he also holds a Research Chair in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery.

The Research Directorate would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Yves Deshaies for his contribution to the development of studious examination at the Institute. From 1999 to 2018, Dr. Deshaies ably steered the obesity–metabolism component and, according to his former students, many of whom have successfully pursued their research career, he has been the mentor of all. We wish him a great retirement.

New research teams

The Research Centre had the pleasure this year of welcoming Drs. Vincenzo Di Marzo and Cristoforo Silvestri. Recognized globally, Dr. Di Marzo directs the work of the Canada Research Excellence Chair on the Microbiome-Endocannabinoidome Axis in Metabolic Health, as well as that of the Joint International Unit for Chemical and Biomolecular Research on the Microbiome and its Impact on Metabolic Health and Nutrition. For his part, the work of Dr. Silvestri will focus on topics such as the endocannabinoid system activity in cardiometabolic health. In addition to these new researchers, four physicians and seven professors from Université Laval have started their research programming at the Institute during the last year.

Research chairs

Sixteen professors and physicians hold research chairs. These create an enabling environment required in order to accomplish valuable research projects. They enable the acceleration of the knowledge transfer from research towards health care and provide unique learning and training experience of high quality to students. During the year 2017-18, two new chairs were created at the Research Centre:

- Research Chair on the “Fondation Jacques Larivière” for the development of structural heart interventions

Held by Dr. Josep Rodés-Cabau, this chair was created in April 2017. It specifically targets developing and pursuing the research with respect to procedural options for invasive surgery to treat high-risk patients with structural heart diseases. In a five-year horizon, the chair wishes to develop new technologies and procedural methods that will help improve the quality of life and outcomes for these patients.

Photo : Mr. Rénald Bergeron, Dean of Medicine, Mr. Angelo Tremblay, Acting Vice-Rector of Research and Creation, Dr. Josep Rodés-Cabau, Chairholder, Ms. Michèle Clavet, Executive Director of Research, and Mr. Jacques Larivière who set up the “Fondation Jacques Larivière”.

- Research Chair in partnership on the endocannabinoid system in cardiometabolic health

Created in September 2017, this chair will be held Dr. Cristoforo Silvestri. The Research Chair in partnership on the endocannabinoid system in cardiometabolic health will examine how the microbiome and the endocannabinoidome interact to regulate the energy homoeostasis as well as the metabolism. The rodent and the human intestinal microbiomes man will be evaluated.




Researcher productivity and knowledge transfer

This year, researchers also published 642 articles in leading international scientific journals, including the following: New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, Science, The Lancet Oncology, Nature Medicine as well as others.

Researchers are also participating in many congresses and international symposia. This year, 293 invited lectures and 602 abstracts were presented worldwide by the physicians, researchers and students of the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute Research Centre.


Each year, our researchers provide theoretical and practical teaching and also supervise a growing number of graduate and doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents for their research component, as well as undergraduate and college students. In 2017-2018, our researchers supervised 264 postdoctoral students, as well as 260 interns.

In addition, 18 students got the chance to become part of the Research Centre’s team during summer 2017 thanks to a grant of more than $41,000 through a Canada Summer Jobs funding. This program seeks to help students gain work experience related to their field of study. They have thus been able to rely on expertise of researchers and cutting-edge technology equipment.

Scientific Animation and Organization of Major Events

The scientific animation plays an important role, and helps create a dynamic environment where the knowledge exchange remains constantly present. In fact, the Centre is holding once per year its Scientific Days dedicated to research which allow students and professionals the chance to disseminate their work. In addition, several journal clubs, seminars and conferences are occurring annually. These activities set up in Quebec or elsewhere in the world are gathering the most illustrious international researchers and promote exchanges on studies underway as well as new discoveries.

As leaders in their fields, our researchers regularly organize major scientific events such as the following: 

  • International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk Congress on Chronic Societal Cardiometabolic Diseases
  • Knowledge Transfer, Training and Prevention Chair on Respiratory and Cardiovascular Health Annual Symposium
  • Biennale de l’Espace francophone en pneumologie
  • Research Chair in Obesity Annual International Symposium
  • Bariatric Surgery Symposium
  • Thoracic Surgery Congress in Quebec City

Annual Fellowship Competition for Students

Over the past 15 years, the Research Centre offers a scholarship program for students pursuing master’s or doctoral-level degrees as well as being enrolled in a post-doctoral fellowship, contributing to the recruitment of highly qualified candidates and thereby increasing significantly their productivity. This competition is opened to students who don’t benefit of a granting agency scholarship. As of this year, it is supported by the IUCPQ Foundation in partnership with Desjardins. The assessment committees were composed of Drs. Benoit Drolet, Steeve Provencher and Elena Timofeeva (for those at the doctoral level) as well as Drs. Marie-Renée Blanchet, Mathieu Laplante and Patrick Mathieu (for those at the master’s level). This past year, nine students have benefitted from scholarships, either:

  • Marjorie Boyer (Dr. Benoit Arsenault)
  • Dorothée Buteau-Poulin (Dr. Jean-Pierre Després)
  • Alisson Clémenceau (Dr. Yohan Bossé)
  • Audrey Desjardins (Dr. Louis-Philippe Boulet) - Bourse Desjardins master's level
  • Jacinthe Leclerc (Dr. Paul Poirier) - Bourse Desjardins doctoral level
  • Benoit Ranchoux (Dr. Sébastien Bonnet)
  • Mohamed Salah-Annabi (Dr. Philippe Pibarot)
  • Sandrine Sallé-Lefort (Dr. Frédéric Picard)
  • Lionel Tastet (Dr. Philippe Pibarot)

Two researchers from the Centre among the world’s most influential scientists

In November 2017, Drs. Josep Rodés-Cabau and Vincenzo Di Marzo were identified on the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds put up by the strategic information society Thomson Reuters IP & Science subsequently became Clarivate Analytics in 2016. This prestigious annual ranking brings together the scientists whose works are the most frequently cited by their colleagues around the world.



The media have taken notice of the remarkable discoveries and achievements by the keen minds that make our centre so special. Some examples include:

  • Launching of the book “L’asthme chez l’athlète”: a new tool to become champion for his health

Photo : Mr. Alex Harvey, a cross-country world champion and an asthmatic athlete, as well as Drs. Julie Turmel and Louis-Philippe Boulet, authors of the book

  • Institute’s researchers identify a novel gene associated with aortic valvular stenosis
  • Quebec City–Dallas: new study examining the early heart disease risk prediction
  • Institute’s Research Centre new phase of expansion
  • An important step in lung cancer genetic-based research
  • A Quebec researcher leading an international mobilization in the fight against abdominal obesity
  • An Institute’s physician scientist presents to the international community the most recent data on FreeO2. It should be noted that the Institute’s Research Centre and Université Laval are supporting the development as well as the business incubation to help innovative projects, such as the FreeO2 system, to see the light of day and to establish themselves in their respective markets.

Expanding Infrastructure

Construction of New Research Spaces

During the last year, the Research Centre has started the fifth phase of expansion concerning its facilities. This project is achieved through a grouping of various grants obtained from: 1) the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Innovation Fund, 2) the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, 3) the Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation’s Research Support Program (Stream 2), and 4) the IUCPQ Foundation. Totalling nearly $30 million, these funds will allow:

  • The construction and the development of new research spaces (3,200 m2), including a modern laboratory to accommodate the Canada Research Excellence Chair’s activities on the Microbiome-Endocannabinoidome Axis in Metabolic Health as well as the animal supply facility expansion.
  • The acquisition of equipment for studying the links between the microbiome abnormalities and the development of inflammation and metabolic diseases, both related to obesity, including type 2 diabetes.

New Catheterization Laboratory in Basic Research

In 2017-2018, the Research Centre has completed the development of a new catheterization laboratory dedicated to research, whose activities will start during summer 2018. This platform will help create new partnerships supporting the development of Phase I “first-in-man” trials in this activity sector.



Partnerships in support of research and innovation development

Alliance santé Québec

This last year was marked by the PULSAR design phase start-up, the collaborative platform on sustainable health research and interventions, as well as by the strengthening of organized communication activities to exchange so much with the scientific and innovation community as the general public. All organized or promoted activities by Alliance santé Québec are available from its website:

Balance sheet of the Research Ethics Committee

The Research Ethics Committee (REC) is designated by the Minister of Health and Social Services (MHSS) under section 21 of the Civil Code of Québec. It reports to the Board of Directors from the Institution. The REC met on eleven times during the year. From April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, 139 new research projects started at the Institute. Of these, 107 were assessed by it, while 32 projects obtained approval by another REC from the health and social services network (RSSS). On March 31, 2018, 615 files were underway at the Institute. The GUR offered one information meeting to discuss on diverse themes related to research involving humans, including the project ethical follow-up.

Achievements over the past year:

  • Work progress in order to broaden the scope of the widespread consent to research and to optimize its use at the Institute;
  • Update of the Guide for researchers for submission of new projects and follow-up of ongoing ones  at the Research Ethics Committee;
  • Further continually improving work involving, among other things, archive file weeding and reduction of document printing;
  • Contribution to the development, by the Quality, Assessment and Ethics Directorate, of the terms of references in ethics at the Institute;
  • Participation in workshops and task forces for the development of the collaborative platform on sustainable health PULSAR (a Université Laval’s and Alliance santé Québec’s initiative);
  • Organization, in collaboration with the CHUM’s REC, of a REC’s and HSSN’s Sharing Day held on January 24, 2018. The outgoing president, Dr. Franck Molin, made two presentations: “Consentement général à la recherche, principes et applications” and “Échanges sur l’approbation de la création de mise en banque d’échantillons à des fins de recherches futures par les compagnies privées”;
  • Participation in the Scientific Committee’s Study Day of the MHSS’s REC’s that took place on October 20, 2017, and in the Advisory Committee of the FRQS’s Respiratory Health Network 7th Symposium on Ethics and Scientific Integrity for fall 2018.

The REC would like to warmly thank the outgoing president, Dr. Franck Molin, and to recognize his outstanding contribution to the committee during the last sixteen years, including fourteen to the chair.

These highlights are taken from the 2017-2018 Activity Report. Click here to view past issues.