Vardit Ravitsky, PhD

5 Dec 2017

Address

Research interest

  • Bioethics, reproductive ethics, health policy
  • Reproductive technologies
  • Genetics / genomics

Vardit Ravitsky is Full Professor at the Bioethics Program, School of Public Health, University of Montreal and part-time Senior Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is President of the International Association of Bioethics and Director of Ethics and Health at the Center for Research on Ethics. She is a 2020 Trudeau Foundation Fellow and Chair of the Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Committee, as well as Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and of the Hastings Center. She is member of the Standing Committee on Ethics of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and of the Institute Advisory Board of CIHR’s Institute of Genetics. She is also member of the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) Genomics & Society Working Group. Her research focuses on the ethics of genomics and reproduction and is funded by Canada’s leading funding agencies. She published over 170 articles and commentaries on bioethical issues. Ravitsky’s research covers a variety of topics such as: public funding of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF); the use of surplus frozen embryos; posthumous reproduction; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD); gamete donation; epigenetics; prenatal testing, in particular the ethical, social and legal aspects of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT); germline and somatic gene editing; and mitochondrial replacement.

Members of the laboratory

Andréa Daigle, BSc
MSc student
andrea.daigle@umontreal.ca

Marie-Françoise Malo, BSc
MSc student
marie-francoise.malo@umontreal.ca

My An Nguyen, BSc
MSc student
my.an.nguyen@umontreal.ca

Tierry Morel-Laforce, MSc
PhD student
tierry.morel-laforce@umontreal.ca

Aliya Affdal, MSc
PhD student
oulaya.affdal@umontreal.ca

Stanislav Birko, MSc
PhD student
stanislav.birko@umontreal.ca

Erika Kleiderman, MSc
PhD student
erika.kleiderman.1@umontreal.ca

Marie-Eve Lemoine, MSc
PhD student
marie-eve.lemoine@umontreal.ca

Julien Brisson, MSc
PhD student
julien.brisson@umontreal.ca

Ido Alon, PhD
Postdoc
idoalon77@gmail.com

Orit Cherny Golan, PhD
Postdoc
ch.golan.orit@gmail.com

Publications

Makoto Nagano, PhD, DVM

23 Nov 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Spermatogonial stem cells: Fate decision control
  • Spermatogonial stem cells: Male fertility preservation and restoration for boys and men
  • Technology: Cell separation, Transplantation, Stem cell propagation culture, Drug development

If a 6-year old boy must take cancer chemotherapy and will likely become infertile, no techniques are currently available that help him have genetic children in the future. For adults, sperm-banking is the option but it is not an option for prepubertal and adolescent boys. This is an important quality of life issue to the patient himself, but also to the patient’s family and his future partner. I investigate sperm-producing stem cells (spermatogonial stem cells, SSCs), which exist from the time of birth and throughout life, and critically, these cells provide an irreplaceable resource to preserve fertility of boys and men at any age. We expect that SSCs can be harvested from a patient before therapy, and following cryopreservation, transplanted back to the patient, resulting in the production of his own sperm. This scheme has already been realized in animal models. Why not with humans? This is our research goal.

Our current research focuses on three critical issues in SSC research.

First is to generate a fate map of SSC commitment in mice and humans. We ask, what are the steps of SSCs commitment to differentiation until they lose their stemness, and what occurs during the process? Through these efforts, we eventually want to “see” SSCs with our own eyes, which no one has been able to do since the first SSC concept proposed in 1885. Over several years, we have accumulated the abundance of important data using flow cytometry and the SSC transplantation assay. We can now purify mouse SSCs to the level that has not been reported before without using a transgenic marker gene or modifying cells in any way. We are currently analyzing single cell transcriptome data and hope to report our finding in the near future. A glimpse of this research activity can be seen on a YouTube video at “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYQPpoat6tg”.

The second area is to develop novel technologies to increase the SSC homing efficiency after transplantation. We collaborate with developmental biologists, clinical andrologists, and chemical engineers at McGill and have been designing and producing novel compounds in order to allow for more SSCs to engraft and regenerate spermatogenesis after transplantation. We envision that our new approach should make the restoration of male fertility after SSC transplantation more efficient and effective. The animal testing phase is near completion and we plan to move on to preclinical human studies.

The third area of our research is to apply human SSCs to clinical settings, including developing a reliable and reproducible human SSC culture to expand them and assess their genetic and epigenetic integrity during the culture period. We also believe that our first research aim (fate map) is a very essential research process to realize human SSC propagation in vitro, which has not been successful. For this aim, we collaborate with clinicians at the MUHC and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh

The Nagano lab constantly looks for new lab members, the enthusiastic people who are full of curiosity for nature, biology, and the mystery of creatures with whom we cannot share a language. At the level of postdoc, grad students, research assistant, or lab technician.  If you are interested, please email me at makoto.nagano@mcgill.ca.

Members of the laboratory

Sayaka Hansen
Summer Student
sayaka.hansen@mail.mcgill.ca

Youngmin Song, BSc
MSc Student
youngmin.song2@mail.mcgill.ca

Amanda Baumholtz, PhD
Postdoc

Xiangfan Zhang, M.D, BSc
Research assistant

Joelle Desmarais, PhD
Research associate

Liang Ning, M.D
Visiting scholar

Publications

Serge McGraw, PhD

23 Nov 2017

Address

  • 514 345-4931 Ext. 4268
  • serge.mcgraw@umontreal.ca
  • Centre de Recherche CHU Ste-Justine
    3175, Côte Sainte-Catherine
    Bureau #5.17.005
    Montréal, Québec
    Canada H3T 1C5

Research interests

  • Epigenetic modifications and disturbance
  • Embryonic development
  • Prenatal Exposure to alcohol

Serge McGraw’s main research focuses on understanding the epigenetic instability that occurs when DNA methylation maintenance is interrupted during early embryonic development. His research laboratory aims to understand how, during the development of the embryo, a dysregulation of the epigenetic program may be involved in the occurrence of prenatal or postnatal developmental disorders.

Epigenetic changes and embryonic development

Epigenetic modifications are small chemical groups that can be affixed directly to the genome (DNA) or to proteins (histones) involved in the structure and compaction of chromatin. During embryonic development cells divide and develop according to their own program, a program directed by a huge reworking of epigenetic modifications. We believe that any interference occurring during the establishment of this embryonic epigenetic program may increase the vulnerability to express various developmental disorders.

Epigenetic disruption and neurodevelopmental disorders in children

In the last decades there has been an upsurge in neurodevelopmental disorders in children. According to many studies, exposure of the embryo or fetus to harmful environmental insults (eg poor diet, chemical pollutants, drugs, alcohol) during pregnancy is one of the main causes of this recrudescence. Since these insults can alter the epigenetic landscape and the latter are massively altered in the young embryo, we believe that an embryonic epigenetic disturbance caused by these insults could alter the normal development program of the central nervous system and lead to this recrudescence of neurodevelopmental disorders. However, we only have limited knowledge regarding epigenetic deregulation process and many questions remain unanswered. Our laboratory uses in vitro models of stem cells as well as animal models with various epigenetic events induced in the embryonic epigenetic program. Using neurotoxic environmental factors (eg alcohol) or genetic manipulations, it’s now possible to investigate the epigenome, in a normal or disturbed context, in order to dissect the mechanisms of epigenetic dysregulation associated with neuro-developmental disorders. Our research will significantly deepen our knowledge of the disorders initiated on the epigenome of the young embryo, as well as the evolution of these disturbances leading to the development of neuro-developmental disorders during the development of the brain in children. It is really important to understand the nature of these epigenetic disorders through brain development in order to acquire the ability to design targeted epigenetic treatments for brain disorders.

Members of the laboratory

Lisa-Marie Legault, MSc
PhD student
legault.lisamarie@gmail.com

Gilberto Duran Bishop, MSc
PhD student
gilberto.duran.bishop@umontreal.ca

Virginie Bertrand- Lehouillier, BSc
Master student
virginie.bertrand-lehouillier@usherbrooke.ca

Mélanie Breton-Larivée
Undergraduate student
Melanie.Breton-Larrivee@usherbrooke.ca 

Karine Doiron, PhD
Postdoc
karine.doiron@umontreal.ca

Elizabeth Elder
Undergraduate student
elder.elizabeth@icloud.com

Hicham Affia, MSc
Research assistant in bioinformatics
Hicham.Affia@hotmail.com 

Anthony Lemieux
Undergraduate student
anthony.lemieux@umontreal.ca 

Publications

Loydie A. Jerome-Majewska, PhD

23 Nov 2017

Address

  • 514 934 1934 Ext. 23279
  • loydie.majewska@mcgill.ca
  • McGill University Health
    Centre Glen Site
    1001, boul. Décarie,
    EM02210,
    Montréal, QC, H4A 3J1

Research interests

  • Labryrinth Layer Development
  • Craniofacial Development

Our laboratory uses the mouse model to identify and characterize expression and function of genes important for normal development. Our placental project focuses on how the chorion and the allantois, two extraembryonic tissues, interact to form the labyrinth placenta. For the craniofacial projects in the laboratory we used reverse genetics, and next generation sequencing to identify genes important for craniofacial development. We identified a number of candidate genes important in vesicular transport and splicing, and are characterizing the role of these genes on morphogenesis and differentiation of the pharyngeal apparatus – the precursor of the face and neck.

Members of the laboratory

Marie-Claude Beauchamp, PhD
Research associate
marie-claude.beauchamp2@mail.mcgill.ca

Wenyang Hou, MSc
PhD student
wenyang.hou@gmail.com

Sabrina Shameen Alam, MSc
PhD student
sabrinalam.cu.bd@gmail.com

Wesley Chan
MSc student
Wesley.chan2@mail.mcgill.ca

Vafa Keser, MSc
PhD student
vafa_salimova@yahoo.com

Sevane Mugashi
Undergraduate student

Maria Tolymbek
Undergraduate student

Publications

Vilceu Bordignon, PhD

23 Nov 2017

Address

  • 514 398-7793
  • vilceu.bordignon@mcgill.ca
  • Department of Animal Science, McGill University
    21111, rue Lakeshore
    Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC
    H9X 3V9

Research interests

  • Oocyte and embryo development
  • cell reprogramming
  • genome editing

Embryo development:

Normal development depends upon the integrity and homeostasis of the few cells, present at the beginning of embryonic life. Embryonic mortality is an important element affecting fertility and production in domestic animal species. Our lab is using porcine and bovine embryos produced in vitro by different protocols (e.g., fertilization, intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, nuclear transfer, parthenogenetic activation), to investigate how early stage embryos deal with stressful conditions (e.g., genome damage and endoplasmic reticulum stress) by regulating coping mechanisms that allow them to survive and develop.

Cell reprogramming:

Cell differentiation and reprogramming hold great promise for understanding disease mechanisms and developing cell-based therapies.  Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) into enucleated oocytes was the original method used to confirm that differentiated somatic cells can be completely reprogrammed through a second round of development. We are performing SCNT to investigate cellular and epigenetic reprogramming in porcine and bovine embryos.

Genome editing and creation of pig models for research:

Swine are an ideal animal model for biomedical research since they adequately represent features of human physiology, anatomy, metabolic profile and pathophysiology responses. Consequently, there has been an exponential increase in the use of pigs – particularly miniature pigs – in the study of the underlying mechanisms of human diseases. Our lab is using genome editing tools (CRISPR/Cas system) along with SCNT and in vitro embryo production to create gene-edited pigs that can be used to study development, metabolism and pathophysiology mechanisms.

Members of the laboratory

Vanessa Guay, BSc
MSc student
vanessa.guay2@mail.mcgill.ca

Luke Currin, MSc
PhD student
luke.currin@mail.mcgill.ca

Marc Maserati, MSc
PhD student
marc.maserati@gmail.com

Mariana Priotto de Macedo, MSc
PhD student
mpriottodemacedo@gmail.com

Zigomar da Silva, MSc
Visiting student (PhD)
zigomar.vet@gmail.com

Naomi Dicks, PhD
Postdoc
naomi.dicks@mail.mcgill.ca

Karina Gutierrez, PhD
Postdoc
karina.gutierrez@mail.mcgill.ca

Werner Giel Glanzner, PhD
Postdoc
wernergiehl@gmail.com

Hernan Baldassarre
Research associate
hernan.baldassarre@mcgill.ca

Publications

Yojiro Yamanaka, PhD

13 Oct 2017

Research interests

  • Preimplantation development and embryonic stem cells
  • Oviduct development and homeostasis
  • CRISPR/Cas-mediated genome editing

Epithelium is a fundamental tissue structure for organisms. It plays essential roles in animal development and homeostasis.   Our laboratory is interested in epithelial morphogenesis and homeostasis in reproduction, development and cancer. We use mouse embryos, embryonic stem cells and female reproductive tracts to study lineage specification, pluripotency and ovarian cancer tumorigenesis.

Members of the laboratory

Keerthana Harwalkar, BSc
Master student
keerthana.harwalkar@mail.mcgill.ca

YuQi Li, BSc
Master student
yuqi.li2@mail.mcgill.ca

Hengameh Kazemdarvish, MSc
PhD student
hengameh.kazemdarvish@mail.mcgill.ca

Soaad Galal, MSc
PhD student

Matthew Ford, PhD
Postdoc
matthew.ford@mail.mcgill.ca

Nobuko Yamanaka, MSc
Research assistant
nobukoyamanaka@gmail.com

Publications

Robert Viger, PhD

13 Oct 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Mammalian sex determination
  • Regulation of gonad-specific gene expression
  • Regulation of hormone

My laboratory is interested in defining the transcriptional regulatory pathways that are involved in establishing mammalian sex determination (i.e., the formation of a testis or an ovary) and sex differentiation (i.e., the development of internal and external genitalia and therefore the male or female phenotype). We are also interested in understanding the transcriptional control of gonadal gene expression, especially in the somatic cell types of the testis (Sertoli cell, Leydig cell). Over the past several years, our main focus has been to understand the physiological roles played by members of the GATA family of transcription factors. The GATA family of factors is composed of six zinc finger DNA-binding proteins (named GATA1 to GATA6) that recognize the consensus DNA sequence WGATAR found in the regulatory region of several genes required for the differentiation and/or morphogenesis of numerous vital organs. These factors were first identified as major developmental determinants of both the hematopoietic and cardiac systems. Today, they are known to be expressed in a wide variety of tissues where they act as critical regulators of developmental- and cell-specific gene expression. This includes multiple endocrine organs such as the pituitary, pancreas, adrenals, and gonads. Using basic molecular biology methodologies (promoter characterization studies) and various cell line models, we have contributed significantly to better understanding what genes and gene networks these factors target and regulate. Indeed, the scope of GATA action has broadened to include early gonadal development, sex differentiation, and steroidogenesis. GATA factors and in particular GATA4 regulate a plethora of genes that play essential roles throughout gonadal ontogeny. These include those expressed early in gonadal development (Sry, Sox9, Amh, Dmrt1) and those acting later in the fetal and adult gonads (Inha, Star, Cyp11a1, Cyp19a1, and many others). We have recent evidence that GATA4 is an essential regulator of steroidogenesis. Interestingly, aberrant GATA function is known to be linked with some human diseases, and we believe that the reproductive system will be no exception. Research into the role of the GATA family of transcription factors in reproductive function has already led to the potential implication of these factors in several human syndromes and/or pathologies such as breast cancer, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and phenotypic sex reversal associated with insufficient AMH expression. Our ultimate goal is to hopefully translate our work into promising new therapies for the treatment and prevention of these pathologies and other diseases that affect reproductive health.

Members of the laboratory

Marie France Bouchard, PhD
Research assistant
Marie-France.Bouchard@crchudequebec.ulaval.ca

Francis Bergeron, MSc
Research assistant
Francis.Bergeron@crchudequebec.ulaval.ca

Publications

Céline Van Themsche, PhD

13 Oct 2017

Research interest

  • Inflammation and macrophage / trophoblast interactions
  • Evaluation of anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategies in models of intrauterine inflammation leading to perinatal distress

Members of the laboratory

Marion Ravelojaona, MSc
Cosupervision with Dr. Carlos Reyes-Moreno
PhD student
Marion.Ravelojaona@uqtr.ca

Nihad Khiat, MSc
Cosupervision with Dr. Carlos Reyes-Moreno
PhD student
Nihad.Khiat@uqtr.ca

Publications

Jacques J. Tremblay, MSc, PhD, LLB

13 Oct 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Leydig cell differentiation and function
  • Transcription factors
  • Regulation of gene expression

My research program is at the interface of the endocrinology and cellular and molecular biology. We study the molecular mechanisms of Leydig cell differentiation and function. Leydig cells are testicular cells involved in the production of the steroid hormone testosterone. Inadequate levels of steroid hormones are a cause, or at least an aggravating factor, of many human pathologies such as cancers, PCOS, endometriosis, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Understanding how this system works in normal conditions, by studying Leydig cells, will provide essential information that will ultimately lead to better diagnostics and treatments for these problems.
Although different hormones and signalling molecules are involved in the differentiation and function of Leydig cells, the transcription factors downstream of these pathways remain unknown. We have identified various transcription factors, some never before reported in Leydig cells, which are essential regulators of cell differentiation in other tissues. Some are found exclusively in the male gonad, while others are present specifically in the adult population of Leydig cells or are unique markers of Leydig stem cells. In addition, we have demonstrated the presence of the CAMKI kinase in Leydig cells and its involvement in gene expression following hormonal stimulation. Finally, we have identified the AMPK kinase as the first molecular brake of steroidogenesis, which has many clinical implications. The targets of these two kinases remain to be identified. Our work on the characterization of the role of these transcription factors and kinases involves classical molecular and cellular biology approaches, as well as gene editing, animal models and proteomic, genomic and bioinformatics.

Members of the laboratory

Shirley Chazot, BSc
MSc student
shirley.chazot.1@ulaval.ca

Karine de Mattos, MSc
PhD student
karine.mattos.1@ulaval.ca

Kenley Joule Pierre, BSc
MSc student
kenley-joule.pierre.1@ulaval.ca

Oona Delmas, MSc
PhD student
oona.delmas.1@ulaval.ca

Zoheir Demmouche, MSc
PhD student
zoheir.demmouche.1@ulaval.ca

Nicholas M. Robert, PhD
Research assistant
Nicholas.Robert@crchudequebec.ulaval.ca

Publications

Nicolas Pilon, PhD

13 Oct 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Mouse models for rare genetic diseases
  • Neural crest cell development in health and disease
  • Molecular genetics of sex determination

Studies in the Pilon’s lab are focused on neurocristopathies, a group of rare genetic diseases in which problems with neural crest cells play a central role. This particular stem cell population generates many different cell types including, among others: peripheral neurons and glia, melanocytes, craniofacial osteoblasts and chondrocytes as well as some specialized cell types of the heart and the inner ear. Because of this large number of derivatives, distinct structures/cell types (isolated or in combination) are affected in each neurocristopathy.

Interestingly, many neurocristopathies also exhibit sex-related issues as seen in Hirschsprung disease (male sex bias in disease incidence) and CHARGE syndrome (subfertility and male-to-female sex reversal). Using mouse models and tissues from human patients, our goal is to decipher the pathogenic mechanisms underlying these diseases with a special focus on their respective sex-related issues.

In the course of our work on neural crest cells, we also developed an interest for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This interest comes from the incidental generation of a new mouse model via insertional mutagenesis of a previously uncharacterized gene that we are now characterizing in detail.

Membres du laboratoire

Sanaa Tork, MSc
PhD student

Alassane Gary, MSc
PhD student

Sephora Sallis, MSc
PhD student

Marie Lefèvre, MSc
PhD student

Nejia Lassoued, MSc
PhD student

Mohammad Reza Omrani, MSc
PhD student

Elizabeth Leduc, MSc
PhD student
elizabeth_leduc@hotmail.ca

Grégoire Bonnamour, MSc
PhD student
bonnamour.gregoire@courrier.uqam.ca

Baptiste Charrier,MSc
PhD student
bap.charrier@gmail.com

Mostafa Esmael, MSc
PhD student
tefasiena@gmail.com

Chirinie Toufaily, PhD
Research assistant

Tatiana Cardinal, PhD
Research assistant
tatianacardinal@gmail.com

Rodolphe Soret, PhD
Research assistant
rode440@gmail.com

Ouliana Souchkova, MSc
Research assistant
souchkova.ouliana@gmail.com

Benoit Grondin, PhD
Research associate
b.grondin1@uqam.ca

Publications

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