Founded in 1821 during the British colonial era, the university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland and alumnus of Glasgow University, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university. With 21 faculties and professional schools, McGill offers degrees and diplomas in over 300 fields of study, including cultural studies, medicine and law.
McGill University has almost 215,000 living alumni worldwide. Notable alumni include nine Nobel Laureates (overall, twelve Nobel laureates are affiliated with the university), one hundred and thirty-five Rhodes Scholars (more than any other Canadian university), three astronauts, two Canadian prime ministers, twelve justices of the Canadian Supreme Court, four foreign leaders, twenty-eight foreign ambassadors, nine Academy Award winners, three Pulitzer Prize winners, and twenty-eight Olympic medalists. McGill alumni were instrumental in inventing or initially organizing football, basketball, and ice hockey. McGill is one of two member-universities of the Association of American Universities situated outside the United States.
McGill University research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Brighter prospects for chronic pain using optogentics – April 23, 2016
- Building living, breathing supercomputers – February 27, 2016
- Could metal particles be the clean fuel of the future? – December 14, 2015
- Building living, breathing supercomputers – February 27, 2016
- Pesticides: more toxic than previously thought? – August 7, 2015
- Could black phosphorus be the next silicon? – July 8, 2015
- Better dam planning strategies – January 13, 2014
- Microplastic pollution discovered in St. Lawrence River sediments – September 20, 2014
- Solid-State Chemistry – August 10, 2014
- Montreal researchers make Alzheimer’s breakthrough – July 16, 2014
- A breakthrough for organic reactions in water – June 29, 2014
- Melatonin makes old bones stronger – May 29, 2014
- Researchers Find That Influenza Has an Achilles’ Heel – April 11, 2014
- McGill discovery should save wheat farmers millions
- Groundbreaking Pain Research
- A Sustainable Factory Farm That Spits Out Crickets
- HIV Self-testing: the key to controlling the global
- Music as medicine has huge potential, study suggests
- Breakthrough research suggests simple ways to reverse chronic pain
- Reducing effects of traumatic events
- Artificial pancreas: the way of the future for treating type 1 diabetes
- The Green Revolution is wilting
- New Rapid and Point of Care Hepatitis C Tests Could Be Global Game Changers
- Study offers new hope for increasing global food production, reducing environmental impact of agriculture
- Mining for Heat
- Can Organic Food Feed the World?
- Genetic Breakthrough for Brain Cancer in Children
- Artificial vision used to detect rotten oranges and pick through mandarins
- Eating Your Greens Can Change the Effect of Your Genes On Heart Disease
- Video game/robotics combo designed to help stroke victims recover
- Doctors Conduct First-Ever All-Robotic Surgery and Anesthesia
- Striding Towards a New Dawn for Electronics
- Nanotech Discovery May Green Chemical Manufacturing
- Solar-Powered Wheelchair Wins World Cerebral Palsy Day Competition
- MAKING THE INTERNET A NEW NERVOUS SYSTEM FOR HUMANITY
Drug shown to reduce new attacks/symptom progression in some patients
In separate clinical trials, a drug called ocrelizumab has been shown to reduce new attacks in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), and new symptom progression in primary progressive MS.
Three studies conducted by an international team of researchers, which included Amit Bar-Or and Douglas Arnold from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University, have discovered that ocrelizumab can significantly reduce new attacks in patients with relapsing MS, as well as slow the progression of symptoms caused by primary progressive MS.
In one study, 732 patients with primary progressive MS were randomized on a 2:1 ratio to receive either ocrelizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that depletes CD20+ B cells, or a placebo.
The proportion of patients with 12-week confirmed disability progression was 39.3 per cent with the placebo versus 32.9 per cent with ocrelizumab. After 24 weeks, the proportion with confirmed disability progression was 35.7 per cent with placebo versus 29.6 per cent with ocrelizumab. By week 120, timed 25-foot walk worsened by 55.1 per cent for placebo versus 38.9 per cent for ocrelizumab. Patients given ocrelizumab were also found to have fewer new brain lesions and less brain volume loss than those given the placebo.
Researchers also tested ocrelizumab in two separate studies of patients with relapsing remitting MS, one a group of 821 and the other 835. In both studies, patients were randomized on a 1:1 ratio to receive either ocrelizumab or an already established treatment for relapsing MS: subcutaneous interferon-beta, injected three times weekly. Compared to the placebo, relapse rates in patients given ocrelizumab were 46-per-cent lower in one study and 47-per-cent lower in the other. Ocrelizumab was found to reduce the risk of disability progression after 12 weeks and 24 weeks, and reduced the number of new brain lesions.
The study noted that infusion-related reactions occurred in 34.3 per cent of ocrelizumab-treated patients. Serious infections were not more frequent with ocrelizumab compared to the interferon (1.3 versus 2.9 per cent respectively). Malignancies occurred in four ocrelizumab-treated patients and in two interferon-treated patients. Further observation is required to determine the long-term safety of ocrelizumab.
“The results in patients with relapsing remitting MS not only demonstrate very high efficacy against relapses, but also underscore the important emerging role of B cells of the immune system in the development of relapses,” says Bar-Or. “While the results in patients with primary progressive MS are more modest, they nonetheless represent the very first successful trial in such patients, a breakthrough as primary progressive MS now transitions from a previously untreatable condition to one that can be impacted by therapy. It is an important step forward in the field.”
These studies, funded by Roche, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Dec. 21, 2016.
MS in Canada
Canada has one of the world’s highest rates of MS – about 1,100 new cases each year. Some 50,000 Canadians have MS, and more than one-in-five patients are in Quebec. MS is one of the most common neurological diseases among young Canadians. Children as young as two can develop the disease. It typically strikes people in their prime years, between 15 and 40. Women are twice as likely as men to contract MS.
Learn more: Breakthrough in MS treatment
Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University have just achieved a spectacular breakthrough in cancer research. They have developed new nanorobotic agents capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug with precision by specifically targeting the active cancerous cells of tumours. This way of injecting medication ensures the optimal targeting of a tumour and avoids jeopardizing the integrity of organs and surrounding healthy tissues. As a result, the drug dosage that is highly toxic for the human organism could be significantly reduced.
This scientific breakthrough has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology in an article titled “Magneto-aerotactic bacteria deliver drug-containing nanoliposomes to tumour hypoxic regions.” The article notes the results of the research done on mice, which were successfully administered nanorobotic agents into colorectal tumours.
“These legions of nanorobotic agents were actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria – and therefore self-propelled – and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug’s injection point and the area of the body to cure,” explains Professor Sylvain Martel, holder of the Canada Research Chair in Medical Nanorobotics and Director of the Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory, who heads the research team’s work. “The drug’s propelling force was enough to travel efficiently and enter deep inside the tumours.”
When they enter a tumour, the nanorobotic agents can detect in a wholly autonomous fashion the oxygen-depleted tumour areas, known as hypoxic zones, and deliver the drug to them. This hypoxic zone is created by the substantial consumption of oxygen by rapidly proliferative tumour cells. Hypoxic zones are known to be resistant to most therapies, including radiotherapy.
But gaining access to tumours by taking paths as minute as a red blood cell and crossing complex physiological micro-environments does not come without challenges. So Professor Martel and his team used nanotechnology to do it.
Bacteria with compass
To move around, bacteria used by Professor Martel’s team rely on two natural systems. A kind of compass created by the synthesis of a chain of magnetic nanoparticles allows them to move in the direction of a magnetic field, while a sensor measuring oxygen concentration enables them to reach and remain in the tumour’s active regions. By harnessing these two transportation systems and by exposing the bacteria to a computer-controlled magnetic field, researchers showed that these bacteria could perfectly replicate artificial nanorobots of the future designed for this kind of task.
“This innovative use of nanotransporters will have an impact not only on creating more advanced engineering concepts and original intervention methods, but it also throws the door wide open to the synthesis of new vehicles for therapeutic, imaging and diagnostic agents,” Professor Martel adds. “Chemotherapy, which is so toxic for the entire human body, could make use of these natural nanorobots to move drugs directly to the targeted area, eliminating the harmful side effects while also boosting its therapeutic effectiveness.”
As scientists continue to hunt for a material that will make it possible to pack more transistors on a chip, new research from McGill University and Université de Montréal adds to evidence that black phosphorus could emerge as a strong candidate.
In a study published today in Nature Communications, the researchers report that when electrons move in a phosphorus transistor, they do so only in two dimensions. The finding suggests that black phosphorus could help engineers surmount one of the big challenges for future electronics: designing energy-efficient transistors.
“Transistors work more efficiently when they are thin, with electrons moving in only two dimensions,” says Thomas Szkopek, an associate professor in McGill’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and senior author of the new study. “Nothing gets thinner than a single layer of atoms.”
In 2004, physicists at the University of Manchester in the U.K. first isolated and explored the remarkable properties of graphene — a one-atom-thick layer of carbon. Since then scientists have rushed to investigate a range of other two-dimensional materials. One of those is black phosphorus, a form of phosphorus that is similar to graphite and can be separated easily into single atomic layers, known as phosphorene.
University scientists and academic organizations are uncharacteristically vocal about the government’s blunt preference for commercially applicable science
Canada’s National Research Council is the country’s premier scientific institution, helping to produce such inventions as the pacemaker and the robotic arm used on the American space shuttle. But last year, its mission changed.
The Canadian government announced a transformation of the 98-year-old agency, formerly focused largely on basic research, into a one-stop “concierge service” to bolster technological innovation by industry — historically weak — and generate high-quality jobs.
This has set off a dispute over the future of Canada’s capacity to carry out fundamental research, with university scientists and academic organizations uncharacteristically vocal about the government’s blunt preference for commercially applicable science.
“We are not sure the government appreciates the role that basic research plays,” said Kenneth Ragan, a McGill University physicist and president of the Canadian Association of Physicists: “The real question is, How does it view not-directed, nonindustrial, curiosity-driven blue-sky research? I worry the view is that it is irrelevant at best and that in many cases they actually dislike it.
The remodeling of the research council is one in a series of policy changes that have generated fierce pushback by Canadian academics in recent years. The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is also under fire for closing research libraries, shutting down research facilities and restricting when government scientists can speak publicly about their work. Last year the Canadian Association of University Teachers began a national campaign, “Get Science Right,” with town-hall meetings across the country to mobilize public opposition to the policies. Scientists have even taken to the streets of several Canadian cities in protest.
While the transformation of the National Research Council has been criticized, the government as well as some science-policy analysts say that better connecting businesses with research is an important step for Canada.
Having examined models in other countries, the National Research Council chose to streamline its operations to act as “the pivot between the two worlds” of industry and academics, with an eye toward new products and innovations, said Charles Drouin, a spokesman for the council. He said the agency had not moved away from support for fundamental research but wanted to focus such efforts better. “There is basic research, but it is directed, as opposed to undirected as you would find it in universities.”
Another battleground for the future of basic research has been the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, a federal granting agency that serves as the first stop for financing fundamental research by Canadian scientists.
In 2011-12, the latest year for which data are available, the council’s “discovery” grants for fundamental research accounted for 38.4 percent of its budget, down from 50.1 percent in 2001-2. Its “innovation” grants, which encourage the transfer of university-developed technology to industry, rose to 31.4 percent in 2011-12, up from 25.3 percent a decade earlier. (The council also directs part of its roughly $1-billion budget to postdoctoral fellowships and other awards for young researchers.)
“The government has invested proportionately more on the innovation side, where it was seen that we had more challenges,” said Pierre J. Charest, vice president of research grants and scholarships at the government agency. He noted that the council was “on track” to double the number of scientists forming partnerships with industry.
Mr. Charest said criticism about a smaller percentage of funds for discovery grants missed a larger point — that the budget had grown over the past decade to almost $325 million in 2012-13. However, much of that increase comes from a special supplement for a select group of researchers to explore potentially transformative concepts.
One who has felt the pinch is Norman Hüner, an internationally recognized plant biochemist and physiologist at the University of Western Ontario, who holds a prestigious Canada Research Chair in environmental-stress biology. A longtime recipient of discovery grants, he and his research collaborators are exploring a potential breakthrough in the use of photosynthesis to trick plants to grow in suboptimal conditions — relevant research in Mr. Hüner’s view, given concerns about climate change.