2020 CRCHUM Awards of Excellence: five researchers in the spotlight

- 6 min

The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) is delighted to announce the five recipients of its 2020 Awards of Excellence.

This year’s awards once again recognize the exceptional performance of CRCHUM researchers in health research.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I am proud to present these honours to our award recipients. They illustrate the relevance, diversity and impact of the discoveries made by the CHUM’s research teams for the benefit of the Quebec population. This year, in addition to our usual Awards of Excellence, we are awarding the Contribution to the Operation of the Institution award, which recognizes the commitment and generosity of Emmanuelle Brochiero”, stated Vincent Poitout, Director of Research at the CHUM and Scientific Director at the CRCHUM.

These scientists will all be officially honoured on January 22, 2021, in a virtual ceremony held during the CRCHUM researchers’ retreat. We introduce them briefly below.


Emmanuelle Brochiero, Ph.D.

At the Research Centre, researcher Emmanuelle Brochiero never fails to impress. Her melodious accent may resonate in everyone’s ears, but it’s her altruism, commitment and devotion to the institution, her colleagues and her students that leave a mark on everyone.

Since arriving in 2002, her career has been marked by her spontaneous and enthusiastic volunteer efforts. In 2019, she successfully headed the Immunopathology research theme on an interim basis, arriving in the midst of the preparation of the CRCHUM FRQS renewal application. Her contribution during this interim stint will not be forgotten. In December 2020, she was unanimously appointed head of this theme, succeeding Nathalie Grandvaux.

Convinced of the importance of contributing to the running of her institution, this professor at the Université de Montréal’s Department of Medicine has been involved in the Institutional Animal Protection Committee since 2004, and was its vice president from 2009 to 2012. Furthermore, she continues to devote time to the operation of the animal facility.

Since 2014, she has also managed the Respiratory Tissue Biobank at the CRCHUM, essential for basic and translational research activities. She is active at both the CHUM and on the provincial and national levels through the FRQS respiratory health research network, where she holds many positions: president of the scientific committee, director of the cystic fibrosis research area and co-director of the pulmonary infections and pathogens research area.

In 2020, Emmanuelle Brochiero’s influence was widely felt in the implementation of COVID-19 respiratory research projects and in the launch of the COVID-19 biobank.

For all these reasons, Emmanuelle Brochiero is the recipient of the 2020 Award of Excellence in the “Contribution to the Operation of the Institution” category, in recognition of her outstanding scientific contribution throughout her career.


Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad and Dr. Michael Chassé

This year, two recipients will receive the 2020 Award of Excellence ‒ “Young Researcher” category, which highlights the outstanding scientific contribution of a researcher whose research programme has been established for less than ten years.

Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad, a researcher in the Neuroscience research theme, has played a central role in the development of the CHUM’s Addiction Psychiatry Research Unit, a university program that helps patients suffering from comorbid addiction and mental health disorders. This program has become the benchmark in Quebec. To enable knowledge transfer, Dr. Jutras-Aswad has established the Centre of Expertise and Collaboration in Concurrent Disorders (Mental Health and Addiction) of the Université de Montréal’s integrated health and social services network.

As a scientific expert in addiction psychiatry, he influences the orientations of provincial and federal mental health policies through his participation in the Mental Health Commission of Canada Board of Directors, and in the Table interministérielle en dépendance of the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec.

Frequently interviewed by media outlets, he contributes to destigmatizing and explaining in layman’s terms the scientific issues surrounding addiction and associated mental health disorders. He has helped raise the CRCHUM’s visibility and does not hesitate to get involved in the community. He is currently the chairman of the board of directors of the Grand Chemin, an organization comprising three addiction treatment centres for teenagers.

As for Dr. Michaël Chassé, he is a key player in the fields of artificial intelligence, data science and innovative clinical trials in the areas of intensive care, organ donation and transfusion medicine, at the institutional, provincial and even national levels.

During the pandemic, Dr. Chassé has played an indispensable role in the care of COVID patients, clinical research and the creation of infrastructure to fight the disease. Since the spring of 2020, he has mobilized his team and colleagues from other institutions to create the CODA-19 platform, or Collaborative Data Analysis to Improve Clinical Care in Patients with COVID-19.

This platform was made possible thanks to CITADEL, the CHUM’s Medical Data Integration Centre, established by the researcher and his team. Unique in Quebec, this infrastructure contains all of the CHUM’s medical data and opens the door to completely new ways of doing things in terms of research, clinics and management.

Through the mining and analysis of all these data, the CITADEL team, with its ten data science specialists, allows more than 80 research projects to improve the health of the population.


Dr. Dominique Trudel and Frédéric Leblond, Ph.D.

In the “Scientific Contribution of the Year” category, Dr. Dominique Trudel, a researcher in the Cancer research theme, and Frédéric Leblond, a researcher in the Imaging and Engineering research theme and Polytechnique Montréal professor, are the recipients of the 2020 Award of Excellence for their study “Identification of intraductal carcinoma of the prostate on tissue specimens using Raman micro-spectroscopy: A diagnostic accuracy case-control study with multicohort validation”, published in PLoS Medicine.

The scientific team led by the two award winners combined Raman microspectroscopy imaging with machine learning techniques to better detect aggressive forms of prostate cancer. The result? Their diagnosis is accurate in nearly 9 out of 10 cases.

This will improve the identification of at-risk patients and the diagnosis of the most aggressive forms of this cancer.

It is estimated that 4,200 Canadians will die of prostate cancer, the third leading cause of cancer death in the country. In 20% of these cases, an aggressive form, intraductal carcinoma of the prostate, which is frequently associated with a recurrence of prostate cancer and metastases, will be detected. However, at hospitals, pathologists do not yet have biomarkers to accurately identify it. They rely on visual observation of tissue samples.

The CRCHUM, IVADO, the TransMedTech Institute, Mitacs, the Institut du cancer de Montréal, Prostate Cancer Canada, the Fonds de Recherche du Québec ‒ Santé, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute (National Health Institutes) and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada all participated in the funding of this research.


No awards were presented in this category this year.


Awarded since 2012, the CRCHUM Awards of Excellence in Research are honorary prizes that highlight the significant contribution of our researchers to the advancement of health research.

Recipients are selected by the Research Centre’s scientific committee from among our 140 regular researchers.


Refer to the biographies of the award recipients to discover their profiles and their scientific publications.