Quebec COVID Biobank: CRCHUM Teams on the Front Lines


Under a joint initiative by the Fonds de recherche du Québec and Génome Québec, a task force combining research teams from across the province, including those of the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) and the Université de Montréal, will set up the first Quebec Biobank to advance research efforts studying COVID-19, a disease caused by a new type of virus in the coronavirus family.

As a first step, the Biobank will collect and store patient samples and data and share these with scientific teams working on COVID-19. All this work will be carried out in accordance with a strict ethical and legal framework in order to ensure confidentiality. The collection of patient data and samples will begin on April 1, 2020.

Dr. Daniel E. Kaufmann, principal investigator, and Dr. Michaël Chassé, co-principal clinical investigator (intensive care unit), will represent the CRCHUM and the Université de Montréal on the task force led by Dr. Vincent Mooser (McGill University). Our two researchers are responsible for scientific projects and for the information technology and artificial intelligence component, respectively. Dr. Alexandre Prat, co-principal investigator for CRCHUM laboratories, and Dr. Madeleine Durand, co-principal clinical investigator (internal medicine), have already made essential contributions to the establishment of the Biobank.

“Our CHUM clinical teams and CRCHUM research teams are collaborating closely on this major project. Our multidisciplinary expertise will be key to finding solutions to the huge challenges posed by COVID-19. I would like to acknowledge the entire hospital staff’s incredible dedication to patient care and, of course, their courage during this difficult period. With the equally impressive mobilization of our research teams, we are joining forces with them to face these challenges,” explained Dr. Daniel E. Kaufmann, a leading infectious disease specialist and CRCHUM researcher.

“I am impressed by the number of people who, out of solidarity, have volunteered to help with this biobank project. Among these are many students whose academic careers have been disrupted and who will be lending a helping hand to process the blood samples provided by patients,” he added.

In Quebec, the Biobank will also encourage the development of new technologies to analyze large databases to better understand COVID-19, among other diseases. In fact, discussions have begun at the federal level to include this infrastructure in a pan-Canadian network, if possible.

 ”It is clear that the CRCHUM’s unparalleled expertise in human specimen biobanks, immunology and human virology will facilitate health research collaborations at the provincial, national and international levels. I am extremely proud of the strong mobilization of our research teams and staff at the CRCHUM who have become so intensely involved in the launch of this initiative, like no other in Quebec,” stated Dr. Vincent Poitout, scientific director of the CRCHUM and research director of the CHUM.

Under the leadership of the Biobank, a vast network of Quebec hospitals will be providing their services. The initial core group formed by the CHUM, the MUHC, the CHU Sainte-Justine and the Jewish General Hospital will expand to include the UCPQ, the CHUS, the CHUQ, the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MUHC) and the UQAC/CIUSSS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. Other institutions will eventually join the initiative.

For your information

  • The task force currently consists of the following members: Dr. Carole Jabet (FRQS), Dr. Vincent Mooser (McGill University), Dr. Daniel E. Kaufmann (CRCHUM/Université de Montréal), Dr. Michael Chassé (CRCHUM/Université de Montréal), Dr. Simon Rousseau (McGill University), Dr. Yann Joly (McGill University), Dr. Dan Auld (McGill University), Dr. Brent Richards (McGill University);
  • The task force’s activities will be supervised by a governance committee made up of a senior representative from each partner institution. The scientific director of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé, Dr. Carole Jabet, will chair the governance committee for the newly created Biobank. Dr. Serge Marchand, vice president of scientific affairs at Génome Québec, will also sit on the committee;
  • Press release from the FRQS