10 years on the cutting edge

5 min
Nabil Naim

Nabil Naim - Radiochimie et cyclotron

Our researchers are committed to transforming their scientific advances into progress for human health.

Cutting-edge infrastructures

To achieve this, our scientists now have 19 ultramodern scientific core facilities. Ten years ago, there were only ten.

Here’s an overview of some of these core facilities.

Unit for Innovative therapies (UIT)

With this international calibre clinical unit, the research centre is at the forefront of early clinical research. Its purpose is to offer patients experiencing treatment failure the most advanced treatment options in oncology, neurology and immunopathology. Among these are: medications administered to humans for the first time.

A team of 35 people and over 70 doctors carrying out the research are conducting phase 1 (evaluation of the drug toxicity) and phase 2 (determination of the drug tolerance and efficacy) clinical trials. Since its opening in autumn of 2018, nearly 160 clinical trials have been conducted there. Many trials involved collaboration with large pharmaceutical companies.

In September 2022, a patient with lung cancer was treated during a clinical trial of immunotherapy based on tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL therapy). This was a first in Quebec! Led by the UIT and Dr. Simon Turcotte, this trial involved almost 40 people at the CHUM and CRCHUM.


The Centre for integration and analysis of medical data is better known as CITADEL. At its heart is a team of over 20 high-level specialists (data architecture, data sciences, bioinformatics, biostatistics, medicine). To date, more than 350 research projects have been conducted to improve the health of the population.

The CHUM’s teams now want to go even further! They want to combine clinical data with the phenomenal amounts of “omics” data they possess. Omics data is biological data obtained using new technologies.

Through this progress, unique to Quebec, the scientific team is working to better predict and prevent diseases, establish more accurate diagnoses earlier and offer personalized health care. It is possible, for example, to target the genomic profile of a person or a tumour.

Patient partners

In recent years, our patient partners have been essential in helping clinical teams improve the quality of care and services. Their experience and the knowledge acquired during their hospital stays are increasingly recognized. But can this unique expertise be distilled from the early stages of a research project?

Accompanied by the Centre of Excellence on Partnerships with Patients and the Public (CEPPP) based at the CRCHUM, some research units have seized the benefits of such an association for biomedical research. Dr. Marie-Pascale Pomey, a researcher at the CRCHUM, and Olivier Fortin, a patient partner, have launched PAROLE-CEVARMU. It is a peer-support research project for people who have undergone traumatic amputation or revascularization of an upper limb.

In 2017, a committee composed of five researchers, three managers and five patient partners was set up. Its goal is to promote the CRCHUM’s scientific reputation and development.

Microfluidics: miniatures labs

A team from CRCHUM is developing microfluidic devices. Veritable mini-laboratories which fit in the palm of your hand, these devices enable you to test, observe and predict, among other things, the response to treatment on patient cancer specimens (tumour biopsies, for example) in a controlled environment. They do all this while also reducing analysis time.

Unique in the world, this technology was developed and refined over ten years by the teams of researcher Anne-Marie Mes-Masson and researcher Thomas Gervais


This equipment produces radiotracers, molecules labeled with a radioactive element, used in medical imaging (positron emission tomography or PET) and other diagnostic tests.

The scientific team in charge of the cyclotron is developing new radiotracers to improve detection and monitoring of serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes or neurodegenerative (e.g. Alzheimer’s) and cardiovascular diseases, and to better understand their progression.

In prostate cancer, the new generation of radiotracers, produced by the CRCHUM cyclotron and used in PET, allows doctors to better detect cancer sites compared with classical imaging. 

Health at heart

At the CHUM research centre, the health research of populations is coordinated by the Health Innovation and Assessment Hub. Since its creation in 2016, this hub has brought together numerous teams capable of transforming scientific data into innovations in healthcare environments.

Here are a few concrete examples:

Parkinson’s: a virtual nurse

In collaboration with people living with Parkinson’s disease and their loved ones, a research team has developed the virtual intervention platform: TAVIE™ in motion.

Interactive sessions are led by a virtual nurse. The platform gives rigorous, personalized information and resources to help patients and their families meet the challenges associated with this disease.

Connected undergarments for urinary incontinence

In Canada, about 10% of the population is affected by a form of urinary incontinence. The involuntary loss of urine can be socially stigmatizing.

The researcher Neila Mezghani is working on the design of an undergarment in which a discreet ultrasound sensor is inserted. This device will measure the volume of urine in the bladder throughout the day. It will alert the person wearing it (or the persons helping him/her) as soon as the bladder has reached a predefined filling threshold.

For people with physical or cognitive disabilities, the undergarment will be fitted with a moisture sensor. It can notify healthcare staff in case of urinary incontinence (in a nursing home, for example), so they can locate the person concerned.

Can drones improve the health of isolated populations?

It’s too early to say, but the latest real-life experiences in Madagascar, Malawi and Senegal are paving the way for the local use of drones in Africa and elsewhere.

In this project led jointly by Stony Brook University (New York) and the Madagascar Pasteur Institute, Dr. Simon Grandjean-Lapierre and his colleagues explored the use of drones as a means of overcoming logistical obstacles to managing tuberculosis. Sending sputum

specimens, medications for diagnosis and treatment, between isolated villages and a laboratory were all part of the research.

In collaboration with the McGill International TB Centre team, he is also developing a precise triage tool based on the digital recording of the cough to detect the presence of tuberculosis. Using a database, programmers use acoustic recognition to classify sounds according to the probability of an infection.


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10 years together series

10 years on the cutting edge


10 years together