The CRCHUM’s 2021 Awards of Excellence: the Many Faces of Science

- 5 min

The management team of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) is pleased to announce the names of the recipients of its 2021 Awards of Excellence.

“Despite this last year being marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, our research teams managed to quickly get involved on the provincial and federal scene and implement projects targeting scientific issues of great importance for the population. On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to acknowledge their outstanding performance and their boldness in striving to push their limits,” stated Vincent Poitout, Director of Research at the CHUM and Scientific Director of the CRCHUM.

These scientists will all be officially honoured in May 2022 at the CRCHUM researchers’ retreat.


Nathalie Grandvaux

Nathalie Grandvaux’s commitment to the community, the student body and science since her arrival at the CRCHUM in 2004 has been remarkable, as everyone at the research centre and the Université de Montréal knows!

At the CRCHUM, she chaired the biohazards committee (2015–2019), headed the Immunopathology Research Theme (2019–2020) and, since 2020, has been the Assistant Scientific Director for Student and Postdoctoral Affairs. She has also advocated for having student representatives on the research centre’s scientific committee.

At the Université de Montréal, she was a member of the executive committee and board of the Faculty of Medicine until 2021, and, since 2020, has been the academic manager for the CRCHUM’s biomedical science programs.

A co-founder of the Canadian Society for Virology, Grandvaux was appointed co-director of the Quebec COVID Network by the Fonds de recherche du Québec. And during the pandemic, Nathalie Grandvaux’s voice stood out. Not a whisper, but a strong, reassuring voice that made its way to the ears of the public.

Her messages, repeated hundreds of times in the media in clear, understandable language, reassured Canadians. She reminded those who had their doubts that science has to continue its conversation with society.


Dr Bertrand Routy

Since joining the Cancer Research Theme in 2018, Dr. Bertrand Routy has managed, through his research work, to have a major impact on the clinical use of

checkpoint inhibitors in oncology. Thanks to the support of the CRCHUM and the Institut du cancer de Montréal, he succeeded in building a research unit unlike any in the world devoted to the study of the microbiome.

In 2020, for the first time in Canada, his team and that of Dr. Rahima Jamal were able to study the efficacy of a therapy combining gut microbiota and immunotherapy to treat metastatic melanoma. The goal of the study was to verify whether modifying gut microbiota through a fecal transplant could increase the life expectancy of patients with cancer.

Supported by a $1.5M grant awarded to Dr. Routy by the Canadian Cancer Society, this trial was conducted at the CRCHUM’s Therapeutic Innovation Unit.

With 75 articles published, Dr. Routy’s remarkable scientific productivity has allowed him to stand out on the local and international scenes.

For example, his research team participates in the Oncobiome consortium ($26M), whose goal is to identify the intestinal microbial signatures related to incidence, prognosis and resistance to treatment and to their toxicity in breast, colon, lung, and melanoma cancer.


Researcher collective

Developing serological tests that detect the presence of antibodies targeting the key of the coronavirus, identifying biomarkers associated with severe forms of the disease, using convalescent plasma to fight the coronavirus, elucidating the crucial role of IgM antibodies in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2: these are only a few of the achievements of researchers at the CRCHUM.

Not to mention the development of machine learning models able to diagnose COVID-19 early and identify high-risk patients.

For all these reasons, the 2021 Award of Excellence in the “Scientific Contribution of the Year” category is being awarded to a collective of researchers working in clinical and basic research. This group has transcended its efforts through collaborations with clinical teams at the CHUM to increase knowledge about COVID-19.

In alphabetic order, here is the list of award recipients:

  • Nathalie Arbour (Neuroscience Research Theme);
  • Dr. Philippe Bégin (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Dr. Jean-François Cailhier (Cancer Research Theme);
  • Dr. Michael Chassé (Innovation Hub Research Theme);
  • Nicolas Chomont (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Dr. Madeleine Durand (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Andrés Finzi (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Dr. Daniel Kaufmann (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Dr. Catherine Larochelle (Neuroscience Research Theme)
  • Dr. Valérie Martel-Laferrière (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Dr. Alexandre Prat (Neuroscience Research Theme);
  • Dr. Michel Roger (Immunopathology Research Theme);
  • Dr. Cécile Tremblay (Immunopathology Research Theme).


Dre Cécile Tremblay

A key figure in the media since the start of the pandemic, Dr. Tremblay is known most of all for her exceptional expertise in the field of HIV/AIDS, both in Canada and abroad.

One needs only to look at her involvement in the organization of major conferences such as the AIDS Conferences or her roles as visiting professor and consultant in many African countries particularly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

An outstanding clinician-scientist and professor at the Université de Montréal, Dr. Cécile Tremblay has always encouraged and supported the younger generation of scientists in a spirit of collegiality.

The research program of the Pfizer/Université de Montréal Chair in Clinical and Translational Research on HIV focuses on understanding the transmission and pathogenesis of HIV by using tools from the field of molecular virology as well as clinical therapeutic trial data.

Through the international study IPERGAY, Dr. Tremblay, the contributor for Quebec, demonstrated with her colleagues the efficacy of pre-exposure prophylaxis therapy in reducing the transmission of HIV. This study revolutionized prevention practices.

In 2020, Tremblay received the Mark Wainberg Award, which rewards the most eminent scientists involved in the fight against HIV worldwide, marking a crowning point in her prolific career as a doctor, microbiologist and infectiologist at the CHUM.



Awarded since 2012, the CRCHUM’s Research Awards of Excellence are honorary awards that highlight the significant contributions our researchers have made for the advancement of health research.

Recipients are selected by the Research Centre’s scientific committee from among our 160 or so regular researchers.