Ouellet-véronique

Véronique Ouellet, PhD

22 Apr 2021

Address

Research interests

  • Dairy herd resiliency
  • Heat stress
  • Placental functions

My research program is interested in optimizing the resilience of dairy herds in a context of climate change. My team is particularly interested in the response of dairy cows to heat stress, which is a relatively new topic in continental climatic conditions. In fact, we were the first to demonstrate the effects of heat stress in Quebec dairy herds. We continue to study the magnitude of the consequences of heat stress in dairy cows and their growing fetus while trying to understand the physiological mechanisms behind these consequences. In addition, we are working to develop environmental, nutritional and genetic strategies aimed at increasing the resilience of dairy cows to heat stress.

Members of the laboratory

Boutheina Khliff, BSc
MSc student
boutheina.khlif.1@ulaval.ca

Alexandra Boucher, BSc
MSc student
alexandra.boucher.4@ulaval.ca

Publications

Maritza Jaramillo, PhD

28 Oct 2019

Address

Research interests

  • Regulation of mRNA translation in placental cells
  • Placental cell dysfunction during infections
  • Functional genomics

The main interest of my laboratory is to investigate the molecular underpinnings of translational control (i.e. regulation of mRNA translational efficiency) upon placental cell exposure to environmental stressors such as inflammatory mediators and infectious agents. We and others have shown that translational control provides immune cells with a rapid response to external triggers or cues without de novo mRNA synthesis. However, how specific changes in mRNA translation influence normal and altered placental functions remains largely unexplored. To begin addressing this, we investigate the impact of dysregulated mRNA translational efficiency in the placenta during congenital toxoplasmosis, a vertically transmitted infection that results in serious birth defects or abortion. We postulate that aberrant mRNA translation in infected placental cell populations contributes to alter gene expression programs required for normal embryo implantation, placental development and function. To test our hypothesis, we combine various “OMICS” approaches (i.e. RNA-seq, RIBO-seq and proteomics) in human villous and extravillous trophoblasts and human placental explants, an ex vivo model that mimics the architecture of this organ in culture. In parallel, we conduct in silico analyses and mechanistic studies in engineered trophoblast cell lines and placental explants to define the signaling pathways and trans-acting factors leading to translational repression or activation of specific transcripts. Altogether, these studies will provide insight into the role of translational control in placental function during normal and diseased states.

Members of the laboratory

Visnu Chaparro, MSc
PhD student
visnu.chaparro@inrs.ca

Andres Diez Mejia, MSc
PhD student
andresfelipe.diez@inrs.ca

Aurore Lebourg, MSc
PhD student
aurore.lebourg@inrs.ca

Louis-Philippe Leroux, PhD
Research Associate
louis-philippe.leroux@inrs.ca

Publications

Aimee Ryan, PhD

7 Sep 2018

Address

Research interests

  • epithelial barriers and morphogenesis
  • claudin family of tight junction proteins
  • neural tube closure

Mutations in several genes and a variety of environmental factors are known to cause birth defects. Prevention of these defects depends on identifying the molecules involved in embryonic development and understanding what they do. My lab studies the claudin family of tight junction proteins during embryogenesis.  Claudins are well-known for their roles in regulating paracellular movement of ions and small molecules between cells of epithelial and endothelial layers.  However, we have shown that they also play important roles in regulating cell movements and cell shape changes during embryonic development.  These functions are dependent on claudin’s intracellular interactions with apical complexes at the lateral membrane. We are particularly interested in how claudins coordinate tissue morphogenesis during neural tube closure and establishing the left and right sides of the embryo.  In human embryos these events happen in the first three to four weeks after fertilization.

We are also involved in collaborative projects investigating the role of claudins in differentiated organs, including the Sertoli cell tight junction barrier in the testes and the epithelial barrier in kidney nephrons.

Members of the laboratory

Enrique Gamero-Estevez, MSc
PhD student
enrique.gameroestevez@mail.mcgill.ca

Amanda Vaccarella, BSc
MSc student
amanda.vaccarella@mail.mcgill.ca

Liz legere, BSc 
MSc student
elizabeth-ann.legere@mail.mcgill.ca

Jenna Haverfield, PhD
Postdoc
jenna.haverfield@mail.mcgill.ca

Publications

Sophie Petropoulos, PhD

11 Jul 2018

Address

Research interests

  • Investigate how the early ex vivo environment modify the methylome, transcriptome and noncoding RNAs of the first three lineages (TE, EPI and PE); thus potentially programmi the placenta and developing fetus for disease and disorder later in life
  • Unravel fundamental aspects of preimplantation embryo development and RNA biology
  • Investigate the role of noncoding RNAs in the lineage formation and programming of the human embryo at a single-cell resolution

It is now well accepted in the field of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD), that the pre-conceptual, intrauterine, and early life environments can have a profound and lasting impact on the developmental trajectories and longer-term health outcomes of the offspring. Studies in both humans and animals have demonstrated that ‘insults’ such as nutritional imbalances, stress and environmental toxins can negatively impact the offspring and perturb development, ultimately ‘programming’ the offspring for an increased incidence of disease and disorder development later in life.  In particular, increased incidences of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, neurocognitive disorders and attention deficit disorder have been reported. Subfertility affects 1 in 6 couples and the use of Artificial Reproductive Technology (ART) is on the rise globally. During ART, particularly in vitro fertilization (IVF), the embryo is cultured ex vivo; an environment that exposes the embryo to numerous sources of ‘preimplantation stress’ – for instance: altered oxygen levels, altered nutrient levels, exogenous hormones and adjuvants therapies, in an attempt to increase live birth rate. Given the dynamic developmental events that occur during the this window, such ‘insults’ may affect not only the viability of the embryo and ability of the blastocyst to implant, but also the developmental trajectory of the cell lineages ultimately influencing placental development and function (the life source for the fetus in utero) and/or the embryo itself.  Such biological alterations may lead to imprinted disorders; altered metabolic and growth pathways; skewed X-inactivation; altered neurodevelopment and suboptimal downstream lineage development and thus organ development; ultimately impacting the long-term health outcome of the child.  Strong scientific evidence investigating the molecular alterations in the embryo during ART are currently lacking and the safety of adjuvant therapies and additives utilized to increase the success rate of IVF and implantation remain to be meticulously investigated.  Studies in the mouse suggest that the environment such as culture media can have a profound impact on placental development, leading to low birth weight; which in itself is associated with suboptimal developmental outcomes.  Studies in children born from ART suggest an increased incidence of imprinted disorders, hypertension, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.   Merging the fields of DOHaD, Single-Cell Genomics and ART is of critical importance given the potential to unintentionally reprogram future generations with an increased risk for disease and disorder development.

Members of the laboratory

Cheng Zhao, PhD
Postdoc
zhaocheng3326@163.com

Jesica Canizo, PhD
Postdoc
jesicanizo@gmail.com

Katherine Vandal, MSc
PhD student
katherine.vandal.lenghan@umontreal.ca

Savana Biondic, MSc
PhD student
savana.biondic@umontreal.ca

Publications

Sarah Kimmins, PhD

4 Jun 2018

Address

Research interests

  • Infertility in men
  • Epigenomics
  • Environmental effects on the epigenome & offspring development and health

Dr. Sarah Kimmins received her Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in 2003 and completed her post-doctoral training at the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire in Strasbourg, France.  She was appointed to the Department of Animal Science in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in September of 2005 and is a tenured Associate Professor. She is an associate member of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine at McGill.

Globally the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases such as cancer, and cardiovascular disease are on the rise. These increases have occurred at rates that cannot be due to changes in the genetic structure of the population and are likely caused by environmental factors that modify gene function via epigenetics. Kimmins leads a research program focused on determining how the environment (nutrients and toxicants) impacts the health of parents and offspring. Her research involves long-term multi-generational studies to identify the mechanisms implicated in epigenetic inheritance. In 2013, her research group linked a father’s diet to development of the embryo. This research highlights the possibility that the father’s pre-conception health may be equally as important as the mother in terms of having healthy babies. This ongoing line of research has the potential to impact child health worldwide in terms of prevention of birth defects and chronic disease. This line of research is being translated into human studies with long-term studies to follow parents and their offspring in relation to environmental components.

Members of the laboratory

Vanessa Dumeaux, PhD
Bioinformatics consultant
vanessa.dumeaux@mcgill.ca

Christine Lafleur, MSc
Lab manager
christine.lafleur@mcgill.ca

Olusola F. Sotunde, PhD
Postdoc
olusola.sotunde@mcgill.ca

Ariane Lismer, BSc
Master student
ariane.lismer@mail.mcgill.ca

Romain Lambrot, PhD
Research associate
romain.lambrot@mcgill.ca

Marie-Charlotte Dumargne, PhD
Postdoc
marie-charlotte.dumargne@mcgill.ca

Anne-Sophie Pépin, BSc
Master student
anne-sophie.pepin@mail.mcgill.ca

Publications

Guylain Boissonneault, PhD

5 Apr 2018

Address

Research interests

  • Genetic instability of spermiogenesis
  • Nuclear-mitochondrial crosstalk in chromatin dynamics
  • Sperm genetic integrity test

Although meiosis is a well-known source of genetic instability and diversity, our research activities over the past 15 years have focused on the haploid spermatids. Spermatids undergo a striking change in chromatin structure and our working hypothesis is that this important transition represents a major source of genetic instability that has probably been overlooked by reproductive biologists. We have shown that elongating spermatids display transient DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that are part of the developmental program of these cells. As these endogenous breaks cannot be repaired by homologous recombination but by an error-prone end-joining process, we hypothesize that the chromatin-remodeling steps in spermatids is intrinsically mutagenic. Our goal is to determine the origin of the transient DSBs, their genome-wide distribution, their mutagenic potential and the DNA repair mechanism involved. Our initial genome-wide screening of DSBs hotspots suggest that neurodevelopmental genes as being preferentially targeted pointing to the possible etiology of the male transmission of cognitive disorders. Histone hyperacetylation is apparently necessary for the formation of DSBs and the nuclear addressing of mitochondrial carnitine acetyltransferase may impact the pool of nuclear acetyl- CoA. We have established that the post-meiotic DSBs are also observed in yeast pointing to the striking conservation of the process and providing a simplified eukaryotic model to investigate its mechanism and impact on the genetic landscape.   We hope that this research program will confirm that this sensitive chromatin transition adds up to meiosis as a crucial determinant of genetic diversity with important consequences for evolution.

Members of the laboratory

Anne Gouraud, MSc
PhD student
anne.gouraud@usherbrooke.ca

Tiphanie Cavé, MSc
PhD student
tiphanie.cave@usherbrooke.ca

Julien Massonneau, MSc
PhD student
julien.massonneau@usherbrooke.ca

Publications

Barbara Hales, PhD

13 Dec 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Developmental and reproductive toxicology
  • Teratology
  • Birth defects research

Her group’s research is focused on understanding how chemical exposures adversely affect reproduction and development. Projects in her lab, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, include the effects of house dust mixtures of flame retardants on reproduction and development, the impact of exposure to phthalates and “green” plasticizers on progeny outcome, and approaches towards the responsible replacement of endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Dr. Hales has published over 160 journal articles and 45 book chapters.

Members of the laboratory

Elaine Lee (co-spervision with Dr. Hales)
BSc student
elaine.lee@mail.mcgill.ca

Sabrina Romanelli (co-spervision with Dr. Hales)
BSc student
sabrina.romanelli2@mail.mcgill.ca

Adeline Wang (co-spervision with Dr. Hales)
BSc student
adeline.wang@mail.mcgill.ca

Zixuan Li, BSc
Master student
Zixuan.li@mail.mcgill.ca

Dongwei (Oscar) Yu, BSc
Master student
Dongwei.yu@mail.mcgill.ca

Han (Aileen) Yan, MSc
PhD student
Han.yan@mail.mcgill.ca

Xiaotong (Vicky) Wang, MSc
PhD student
Xiaotong.wang3@mail.mcgill.ca

Abishankari Rajkumar, PhD
Postdoc
Abishankari.rajkumar@mcgill.ca

Lama Iskandarani, MSc
Research assistant
Lama.iskandarani@mail.mcgill.ca

Elise Boivin-Ford
Project Coordinator
Elise.boivin-ford@mcgill.ca

Publications

Géraldine Delbes, PhD

13 Dec 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Reproductive toxicology
  • Endocrine disruptors and testis development
  • Developmental Origin of Health and Disease (DOHaD)

Our research projects aim to determine how exposure to medical or environmental chemicals during particular periods of sensitivity in life can alter male fertility.

Epidemiological evidence suggests a worldwide increase in male fertility issues associated with decreased sperm production, increased incidence of testicular cancer and genital tract anomalies in humans and various wild animals. Data accumulate, demonstrating an adverse effect of exposure to chemicals in the environment or of medical treatments on reproductive function. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in these effects on male fertility are still poorly documented. We seek to characterize these mechanisms in immature germ cells, the precursors of spermatozoa. Using in vivo and in vitro models in rodent and humans, we investigate the toxicity of the chemical environment, testing the cytotoxicity, impact on DNA damage, gene expression and epigenetic reprogramming in male germ cells.

Members of the laboratory

Natasha Letourneau
Undergraduate student
Natasha.Letourneau@inrs.ca

Rhizlane Elomri, MSc
PhD student
rhizlane.elomri@iaf.inrs.ca

Ghida Baalbaki, MSc
PhD student
ghida.baalbaki97@hotmail.com

Antoine Gillet, MSc
PhD student
antoine.gillet@inrs.ca

Publications

Cathy Vaillancourt, PhD

5 Dec 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Melatonin and serotonin in placental function and fetal development
  • Stress, anxiety and depression (SAD) maternal and the mother-placenta-fetal axis
  • Maternal exposure to pathogen, virus and toxins and placental function

My laboratory is interested to elucidate the effect of environmental factors (contaminant, stress, depression, pathogens and pharmaceutical drugs) and obstetric complications (preeclampsia, preterm birth and gestational diabetes) as well as the role/impact of fetal sex on placental endocrine function and fetal development. We are especially interested in understanding the role and mechanisms of action of serotonin and melatonin in placental function and fetal development. Our team have demonstrated that serotonin and melatonin are produce de novo by the placenta and plays a crucial role in fetal heart and brain development. The placenta is a multifunctional organ essential to mammalian development. A poorly functioning placenta can lead to miscarriage, fetal growth restriction, or premature birth, as well as lifelong effects on health. Our research program focused on the effect of maternal prenatal stress, depression, pharmaceutical drugs and chemical toxins on placental function as a new approach to determine the potential teratogenicity and toxicity. Our research hypothesis is that exposure to environmental factors during pregnancy induce alterations/adaptations of placenta serotonin, melatonin and glucocorticoid system as well as endocrine function and by consequence on fetal development in a sex-specific manner. The mother-placental-fetal relationships present an original approach to examine the effects of environmental factors, pharmaceutical drugs and maternal stress/depression which may have long-term consequences on the development and programming of the fetus. Our ongoing studies are also focused to develop new model (co-culture model and placenta-on-chips) to study the impact on environmental factor and pathogens on the mother-placenta-fetal axis. The aim is that this new technology will both accelerate discovery and permit more elaborate experimental designs than previously possible, to the benefit of our research program and those of our collaborators. Our long-term goal is to improve the health of pregnant mother and their offspring.

Members of the laboratory

Christian Sanchez, BSc
MSc student
Christian.Sanchez@inrs.ca

Natan Keremov, BSc
MSc student
Natan.Keremov@inrs.ca

Josianne Bienvenue-Pariseault, MSc
PhD student
Josianne.Bienvenue@inrs.ca

Linda OK, MSc
PhD student
linda.ok@inrs.ca

Ghida Baalbaki, MSc
PhD student
ghida.baalbaki97@hotmail.com

Tomas Etcheverry, MSc
PhD Student
Tomas.Etcheverry@inrs.ca

Morgane Robles, PhD
Postdoc
morgane.robles@inrs.ca

Darius Stamatakos
Internship student
Darius.Stamatakos@inrs.ca

Publications

Jacquetta Trasler, MD, PhD

5 Dec 2017

Address

Research interests

  • Normal and abnormal epigenetic programming during gametogenesis and embryogenesis
  • Mouse/human assisted reproduction
  • Reproductive toxicology/dietary effects on offspring outcomes

There is increasing evidence that a parent’s diet or exposure to environmental stressors not only affects their own health but may predispose their offspring to developmental defects, metabolic disorders, obesity, neurodevelopmental disorders or other chronic diseases. Our goal is to study the effects and interactions of environmental factors, including infertility, the use of assisted reproductive technologies and folic acid supplementation, on gene programming events in early embryos, the placenta and the fetus during gestation, along with neurodevelopmental and metabolic outcomes in the children. We expect to be able to develop science-based, more personalized rationales for recommendations for levels of folic acid supplementation for infertile and pregnant Canadians. We will develop sensitive early biomarkers for chronic disease affecting neurological and endocrine development of young children that begins in early life and has life-long consequences, allowing prevention strategies to be designed.

Members of the laboratory

Josée Martel, MSc
Research associate
josee.martel@mail.mcgill.ca

Donovan Chan, PhD
Research associate
donovan.chan@mail.mcgill.ca

Lundi Ly. MSc
PhD student
lundi.ly@mail.mcgill.ca

Sophia Rahimi
MSc student
sophi.rahimi@mail.mcgill.ca

Marie-Charlotte Dumargne, PhD
Postdoc
marie-charlotte.dumargne@mail.mcgill.ca

Gurbet Karahan, PhD
Postdoc
gurbet.karahan@mail.mcgill.ca

Publications

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