An international approach to neuromuscular disease
Dr. Bernard Jasmin, vice-dean research at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, and his French colleague, Professor Laurent Schaeffer of the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, are launching a joint international neuromuscular research partnership, thanks to an agreement signed this week.
“This is truly an exciting and exceptional opportunity to bring together researchers and clinicians interested in neuromuscular diseases (NMD) from two leading centres,” said Jasmin. “The synergy created by this partnership will not only benefit trainees and faculty members from both sites but, in addition, will accelerate the development of novel and much-needed therapeutic strategies for NMDs.”
Over the next five years, uOttawa’s Centre for Neuromuscular Disease (CNMD) and the University of Lyon’s Institut NeuroMyoGène (INMG) will jointly fund four high-calibre scientific projects annually in the area of neuromuscular disease, involving at least one research team from CNMD and one from INMG.
“Our universities have a common goal of world class research excellence,” said University of Ottawa VP Research Mona Nemer, who received an honorary doctorate from the Université de Lyon in 2009. “We are very proud to be fostering scientific collaboration between our institutions through this new joint initiative.”
Created in 1999, the CNMD’s goal is to advance the fundamental understanding of neuromuscular development and disease and to discover novel therapies to treat these devastating disorders, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, myotonic dystrophy and myasthenia gravis.
“The University of Ottawa is one of the Université de Lyon’s privileged partners,” said Professor Frédéric Fleury, president of Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and vice-president of the Université de Lyon. “The partnership is very rich and involves the exchange of trainees and researchers. It is encouraging to see it is expanding into new areas of cooperation.”
The two universities’ faculties of medicine and the Hospices Civils de Lyon also signed an exchange agreement that allows residents from Ottawa to complete part of their medical training in France and for Lyon interns to get training in Ottawa. This partnership builds on the framework agreement signed in April 2015 and will help deepen the francophone medical collaboration between uOttawa and Lyon.
“Agreements like these send a strong signal to students and faculty that the University of Ottawa is open to the world,” said uOttawa President Jacques Frémont. “Scientific cooperation contributes to collegial relations between countries and we are very proud to celebrate the great relationship between France and Canada.”
Representatives from both parties participated in a two-day campus visit that included tours of uOttawa’s medicine, science, engineering and health sciences labs, aimed at developing future international collaborations.
Ottawa boasts one of the highest concentrations of neuromuscular researchers in the world, including 50 basic scientists and clinician/clinician scientists, and more than 150 trainees and staff. The CNMD is part of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute, and brings together researchers from the University of Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and CHEO Research Institute.