PAAO President’s Message

October 2020

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

La recherche est le cœur de l’hôpital (Research is the heart of the Hospital).
– Pierre Masson

The words of Pierre Masson, the famous Professor of Pathology at the University of Montreal, could not be more appropriate to describe the relationship between academic hospitals and their research programs.

Research Institutes (RIs) are an intrinsic part of academic hospitals throughout North America and other parts of the world. The McGill University Hospital Centre-RI is certainly one example of this novel way of performing patient-centric research.

The MUHC-RI Glen campus is a five-year-old modern facility that houses 600 investigators, 1200 graduate students as well as a large number of residents and fellows. There are several adult and pediatric research programs which are strongly linked to the clinical programs.

The laboratories are state of the art, cutting edge facilities with the most advanced equipment. Most of our expensive equipment is shared by many investigators and belong to our platforms or core facilities. The platforms are 9 ultra-advanced laboratories with the latest equipment and specialized personnel performing incredible tasks.

The Center for Innovative Medicine, a research hospital inside our hospital, is a state – of – the art environment dedicated to clinical research. Only last year, a total of 1500 clinical trials were performed, and 135.000 patients participated in these studies.

In 2019, our research effort result in 2000 publications, 2000 national and international lectures by our scientists, 32 inventions, over 400 research contracts.

Why do we publish so many papers? Why actually publish a paper?

Please just think for a minute: I see 3 patients, a new treatment, developed at the RI, is given to them and they recover with no side effects in a short period of time. Therefore, I was able to help these 3 patients and that is good.

Now a paper regarding this disease and this particular treatment is published and read by many. All of sudden, 1000 patients are treated for the same disease and cured. How many patients was I able to help? 1003 and that is more than good. That is just great.

The teaching at the RI moves hand in hand with the research and completely synchronized with the MUHC patient care. We provide training to the new generation of physicians and scientists.

A very special word regarding our international programs. They involve 67 countries in all continents.

Why do we have that? We partner with other great institutions around the world and exchange experiences which enable us to be always on the top of the innovations in research and patient care.

Why partner with countries which are less developed? Why partner with regions with a vulnerable population? First and foremost, because we help them, and this is the right thing to do. But also, due to the fact that many diseases are more prevalent in these countries and its high prevalence enables us to study the pathological mechanisms related to that disease that we cannot observe in other parts of the world.

Last, but not least, this is the mission statement of my research unit, the MUHC-McGill University Ocular Pathology Laboratory and Translational Research: We do not do research as an intellectual exercise. We do research because there is a patient at the end of the day.

We, Clinician-Scientists, certainly agree with the words of Pierre Masson: Research is the heart of the Hospital.


Miguel N. Burnier Jr. MD MSc PhD
PAAO, President