The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation’s Awards of Excellence

2020 Awardees (left to right): John Kildea, Tarek Hijal, Olivier Perret, Marie-Claude Bourgeois Daigneault and Peter Siegel

To mark its 25th anniversary, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation has revisited the yearly awards it garners work contributing to the fight against breast cancer.

Now by nomination, the Foundation’s four Awards of Excellence are accompanied by a cash prize to support the pursuit of the research, innovation and support work being recognized.

Awardees are honoured at a ceremony held during the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation’s annual Gala.

Awards of Excellence

Awarded to an individual for the scope and impact of their career. The scientific quality of their research must have resulted in significant advances in the fight against breast cancer.

Awarded to an individual whose work has introduced a remarkable innovation or significantly improved a practice to the benefit of breast cancer patients.

Awarded to young researchers who have stood out by the quality of the projects they presented under the FRQS-FCSQ’s career grant program. Winners receive an additional grant.

Awarded to a volunteer, ambassador, organizer or community initiative organizing committee whose commitment to the Foundation and to the cause has had a major positive impact.

Nomination Guides and Forms

The application form for the 2021 Scientific Distinction Award will be available on August 15, 2020.

The application form for the 2021 National Bank Innovation and Community Support Award will be available on August 15, 2020.

This award is not by nomination. Each year, the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation present the Scientific Achievement Award to a scholar selected from the FRQS’ career grant program. The program’s aim is to encourage the development of breast cancer research and the education and support of promising young researchers.

The nomination form for the 2021 Pam McLernon Volunteer Engagement Award will be available on September 15, 2020.

For more information:

The Awardees

2020

Scientific Distinction Award

Dr. Peter Siegel

Dr. Siegel is a full professor in the Faculty of Medicine and an associate member of the Departments of Biochemistry, of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and of Oncology at McGill University. He is also a member of the Rosalind and Mooris Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University.

Dr. Siegel’s breast cancer research covers molecular and cell biology, in-vivo modeling and therapeutic development. His work has led to the discovery of unique prognostic markers, drug targets and metabolic vulnerabilities of metastasis, pointing to new therapeutic avenues for treating this major contributor to breast cancer mortality. 

Dr. Siegel has authored over 100 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals and is the recipient of numerous awards and research grants. His excellence in research, as well as his administrative and mentoring skills, lie at the foundation of the Goodman Research Centre’s success, making it a world leader in the field. 

This Scientific Distinction Award therefore highlights the scope and impact of his career.

National Bank Innovation and Community Support Award

Prakash Panangaden, Dr. Tarek Hijal, Dr. Pierre Gfeller, Dr. John Kildea, Michel Maksud and Tristan Williams

Along with Dr. Kildea and Laurie Hendren, Dr. Hijal is one of the co-founders of Opal. He is an associate professor in the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology at McGill University, a radiation oncologist and the director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the McGill University Health Centre. His research activities focus on the evaluation of new radiation treatments for breast and rectal cancers, as well as the improvement of radiation therapy care through the use of databases and machine learning.

Opal is a mobile application that places the patient at the centre of their care trajectory. Its co-creation with breast cancer patient Laurie Hendren is indeed a concrete illustration of this focus. Thanks to Opal, patients can overview their appointments, treatment plans, clinical notes and lab results, and also access contextualized and fully explained educational materials and information about the care process. The app also allows patients to fill out online results questionnaires and rate the educational materials to provide feedback to healthcare professionals. Through this innovative two-way exchange, Opal revolutionizes patient-healthcare system interaction, changes that promise the development of many other uses. Today, the application is being implemented in the Medical Oncology Department at the McGill University Health Centre, thanks to the work of Dr. Asselah, and aims to be used throughout the institution in the coming months. 

Emerging Scientist Award

Dr. Marie-Claude Bourgeois-Daignault

Dr. Bourgeois-Daignault is a principal scientist at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) research centre.

Dr. Bourgeois-Daignault and her team are working on the development of breast cancer treatments and the characterization of patients who respond, or do not respond, to treatment. To this end, they are studying and optimizing the use of modified, cancer-specific viruses (oncolytics) as immunotherapeutic treatments for cancer. Targeting the cancer-cell destruction without damaging organs, these viruses are considered to be a promising strategy in breast cancer treatment. Since patients do not all respond to treatment in the same way, Dr. Bourgeois-Daignault’s research program aims to predict the response to treatment and to create more effective viruses. In particular, the team is studying the effects of estrogen on the action of these oncolytic viruses. 

The quality of the breast cancer research work and the ability to support students are qualities rewarded by the 2020 Emerging Scientist Award.

Pam McLernon Volunteer Engagement Award

Chef Olivier Perret

The Renoir en Rose fundraising evening for the benefit of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and the CEDARS Foundation, brings together great Montréal chefs who share the Renoir’s kitchen to concoct a unique and gastronomic feast.

This project was born from the desire of Olivier Perret, the executive chef at the Renoir at Sofitel Montréal Le Carré Doré, to give back to a cause that is dear to him. Since Mr. Perret himself fought cancer a few years ago and his sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer, he decided to put his culinary talents and those of his entourage to use for a fundraising event.

Over the years, Olivier has spearheaded six editions of Renoir en Rose, raising over $300,000 for the cause.

2019

Scientific Distinction Award

Morag Park, PH.D.

Director of the Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University, Dr. Park is a leader in research on receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) receptors and oncogenic RTK activation mechanisms in human cancers. She became a leader in the field by studying the breast cancer microenvironment. She established the Breast Cancer Functional Genomics Group and a breast tissue bank at McGill University and is a member of the advisory councils for research of the provincial Cancer Research Network and the for the Canadian Cancer Society. From 2015 to 2017, she chaired the Tumor Microenvironment Network of the American Association for Cancer Research. More than 190 of her articles have been published in leading journals.

She became interested in breast cancer because of its impact on the lives of many women and their families. Compared to other types of cancers, the high prevalence of breast cancer—one in nine women—and the relatively young age of the many women it affects make breast cancer a major research challenge. The development of excellent preclinical models of breast cancer and the ability to study human tumour tissue from a large tumour bank has allowed her team to gain new understanding of the disease, to focus on the reasons why certain tumours do not respond to treatment, and thus to strive to develop new therapeutic strategies.

Dr. Park’s research goals now include understanding the effects of multiple genetic modifications combined with epigenetic events on tumorigenesis and progression in human breast cancer. This research will be combined with a translational breast cancer research initiative, a McGill-MUHC collaboration between core investigative scientists, surgeons, oncologists and pathologists.

National Bank Innovation and Community Support Award

Dr. Jean-François Boileau

Dr. Boileau is a surgical oncologist and clinical researcher at the Jewish General Hospital in Montréal. He is assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at McGill University. He has worked as a staff surgeon at the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Montréal (CHUM) and at the Odette Cancer Centre at the Sunnybrooke Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

His research interests are breast cancer and clinical trials. The main focus of his research aims at using primary systemic therapy, or neoadjuvant therapy, as a more efficient way to study the effects of systemic treatments in people with breast cancer.

Dr. Boileau is the principal investigator of the SN FNAC Trial, a Canadian multicentre study evaluating the accuracy of sentinel node biopsy in node-positive breast cancer patients following neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Other research interests include the identification of better predictors of response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and early detection of breast cancer.

His work on sentinel node excision has changed practice around the world. His aim is to decrease the occurrence of morbid lymphedema and improve patients’ quality of life.

Emerging Scientist Award

Dr. Saima Hassan

Dr. Hassan is a surgeon-oncologist at CHUM and an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the Université de Montréal. She is a graduate of the Department of General Surgery in McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine. There, she completed a PhD in translational research on diagnostic and prognostic markers in the context of breast cancer metastasis. She completed a fellowship in general surgery oncology, with a focus on breast cancer and melanoma. She completed three years of postdoctoral research studying the pre-clinical role of PARP inhibitors in triple-negative breast cancers at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Hassan also performed clinical activities in breast cancer under the supervision of Dr. André Robidoux.

Her main research objective is to better understand the therapeutic approach to triple negative breast cancer. Although three or four types of chemotherapy are the standard of care, it is not known whether all patients need this treatment, with its associated cytotoxic side effects. It is plausible that some patients may benefit from more specific therapy, such as PARP inhibitors. PARP inhibitors target the DNA repair process and are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. Dr. Hassan’s team seeks to better understand the efficacy of PARP inhibitors, both as single agents and in combination using a cell line model, to better select breast cancer patients who could benefit from such treatment.

Emerging Scientist Award

Dr. Lynn Gauthier

Dr. Gauthier is assistant professor of palliative care in the Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University. She is also a regular researcher in the oncology axis of the Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, as well as in the Équipe de Recherche Michel-Sarrazin en oncologie psychosociale et soins palliatifs (ERMOS). She is also co-director of the Axis 1 of the Réseau québécois de recherche en soins palliatifs et de fin de vie (RQSPAL) and a regular member of the Quebec Pain Research Network. She completed her PhD at the School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences at York University in Toronto in 2013 and her post-doctorate at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in 2016. Her research examines the intersection of pain and aging. Her main objective is to improve the assessment and management of pain during adulthood, particularly in the geriatric population. Dr. Gauthier aims to deepen our understanding of pain and its management, as well as to identify ways to improve it to reduce patients’ suffering.

Pam McLernon Volunteer Engagement Award

The Five Dragon Boat Teams

From left to right:

  • Martine Pirlet, captain of the Les Phénix de la Rose des vents team.
  • Anne-Marie Couture, captain of the Seincr’eau team
  • Georgina Cama Lee,  captain of the Côte-à-côte /Two Abreast team
  • Mitsou Gélinas, spokesperson for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Pam Mc Lernon, founder of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Rachelle Audet, captain of the Les Dragons de l’Ouest-de-l’Île Team
  • Chantal Lachance, captain of the Vise-à-vie team

The dragon-boat movement for breast-cancer survivors is inspired by research by Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports-medicine specialist. It brings breast cancer survivors together to paddle for their physical health and social well-being. Promoting healthy lifestyle habits, 

the teams proudly represent the Foundation in activities and competitions throughout the province and sometimes even around the world.

2018

Outstanding Engagement Award

Anne Robert

Ms. Robert received the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation’s Outstanding Engagement Award for her remarkable commitment to Richard and William, whose mother, Yun Min, died of breast cancer in 2017. Young violin prodigies, the two brothers study at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Ms. Robert, who is their violin teacher and a breast cancer survivor herself, took them in while looking for a family to adopt them. Refusing to let these talented children give up their passion, she appealed to the Conservatoire and to the Foundation to create a fund to help them. The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation is grateful for the generosity of the National Bank for its contribution to this fund.

Scientific/Medical Research Award

Jacques Simard and the PERSPECTIVE Project team

The PERSPECTIVE Project (personalized risk stratification for the prevention and early detection of breast cancer) is a major collaboration involving hundreds of researchers from around the world. The Project has identified 72 genetic variations that increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Professor Jacques Simard, researcher in charge of the Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval and the Canada Research Chair in Oncogenetics leads this work. Four years of the PERSPECTIVE Project led this Quebec researcher to obtain data that will provide a better genetic understanding of breast cancer.

The Project aims to develop stratification tools that will make it possible to target breast cancer screening via mammography among the women most likely to develop the disease. This will make it possible to better serve younger women at high risk of developing breast cancer and who are currently outside the standard screening program, due to the age-based eligibility criterion. Given that breast cancer in these young women is often more aggressive, earlier detection and follow-up would make it possible to use less-invasive therapies, reduce treatment side effects, improve survival and increase quality of life.

Community Innovation Award

Susan Mc Peak and Charles Sirois of the McPeak Sirois Group

The McPeak-Sirois Group arose out of the will and hard work of Susan McPeak and Charles Sirois.

Channeling the willpower and expertise of Quebec’s major research centres in the fight against breast cancer, the McPeak-Sirois Group has created a hub that attracts more research protocols to Quebec. More specifically, the Group intends to build a multi-institutional network of clinicians, researchers and members of the medical community involved in clinical breast cancer research. A new approach to the fight against breast cancer.

Pam McLernon Volunteer Engagement Award

Sylvie Brisebois

In 2009, Sylvie Brisebois organized for the first Ride de filles, a motorcycle ride for women. That first year, 50 participants raised $7,000 for the Foundation. Thanks to the commitment of an organizing committee, volunteers and participants, more than 200 people now come together to raise an average of $70,000 every year. In nine years, Sylvie’s initiative has raised close to $400,000. To celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2018, the Ride is aiming to reach $500,000. Singer Lulu Hugues has joined the team as spokesperson.

JoAnne Kelly Rudy Award for Volunteer of the Year

Diane Arbour

Ms. Arbour joined the Foundation’s board of directors in 2007, and served as chair from 2014 to 2017. Her commitment as a volunteer was most remarkable and sincere. Her unifying leadership and dedication to the cause paved the way for great achievements. Today, she continues to be generously involved in many organizations.

2017

Scientific/Medical Research Award

Drs. Louise Provencher and Sarkis Meterissian

The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation is proud to count on Drs. Provencher and Meterissian, both surgeon-oncologists involved in clinical research, to head its Breast Health Advisory Committee. Recognized and esteemed by their peers and patients, these two physicians both have an impressive track record. Each works in one of Quebec’s university hospital centres that have obtained the supra-regional designation for breast cancer.

Dr. Provencher is a general surgeon and oncologist at the Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) de Québec. Since 2003, she has also served as the medical director for the Centre des maladies du sein Deschênes-Fabia at the Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, which treats more than 800 new cases of breast cancer annually, making it one of the largest breast cancer centres in Canada. She is also a clinical associate professor in the Department of Surgery in Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine.

Very involved in clinical research, Dr. Provencher has been the primary investigator or co-investigator for several international multi-centre studies sponsored by prestigious organizations, such as the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Breast Cancer International Research Group, in addition to having worked on studies funded by pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Provencher has written numerous scientific articles, is a frequent speaker in Quebec and elsewhere in the world, and has organized several conferences on breast cancer. She has received numerous awards and special mentions, including the Award of Excellence from the Collège des médecins du Québec, in recognition of her exceptional work on women with breast cancer over the past 30 years.

Dr. Meterissian is full professor of surgery and oncology, and, since 2006, the director of the Cedars Breast Clinic at the McGill University Health Centre. He is also associate dean of postdoctoral studies at McGill University.

Dr. Meterissian has been a member of the Centre for Medical Education since 2001 and chaired the Canadian Society of Surgical Oncology from 2007 to 2009. He chairs the Committee of Canadian Postgraduate Deans, a committee of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, and serves as president-elect of the Canadian Association of University and International Breast Surgeons, a division of the International Society of Surgery. He currently sits on the board of directors of the Collège des médecins du Québec.

Appointed professor of general surgery par excellence in 2000 and 2001, as well as professor par excellence by the Department of Surgery in 1996, he was named to the Faculty’s honorary professor list in 2005. In 2007, he won the prestigious Philip J. Wolfson Outstanding Teaching Award, presented by the Association for Surgical Education, which gathers more than 190 medical institutions and schools in North America. Finally, from 2007 to 2009, Dr. Meterissian was a visiting professor in Utrecht and Stockholm.

Community Innovation Award

Dr. Joseph Bou-Mehri, Jacinthe Brodeur, Marie-France Vachon and Louise Handfield, CHUM

We’d like to honour the CHUM team that designed and implemented a significant improvement in practice. Presented in 2014 as part of the Foundation’s One Million to Help competition, the Education and Decision-making Support for Breast Reconstruction Project created and implemented concrete tools to help women before their reconstruction surgery. These included information sheets, videos, preoperative learning sessions and nurses’ systematic patient follow-up, starting at the decision to have surgery and throughout the hospital trajectory, as well as the training of hospital and community workers who interact with these women.

The Project adopted an integrated approach that allows women to be full partners throughout the care trajectory, to be supported and involved from the moment they make a decision to undergo breast reconstruction until they are discharged from hospital following surgery.

Pam McLernon Volunteer Engagement Award

Serge Legault

For a seventh consecutive year, the Zumbathon at the Centre communautaire Laurent-Venne was a great success! This festive and unifying event would not be what it is without the enthusiastic support of the community centre’s director, Serge Legault, the event’s MCs and the teachers, participants, partners, sponsors, and volunteers who are wholeheartedly involved in this wonderful project.

JoAnne Kelly Rudy Volunteer of the Year Award: Lise Gendron

Lise Gendron has been lending the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation a hand for 15 years now. She has been a long-time supporter of our weekly activities and, until 2017, spent her summers supporting our teams in getting ready for what was then our biggest annual event: The CIBC Run for the Cure. For 10 years, she managed the food tent, feeding approximately 6,000 people every year. She led a team of volunteers and fully supported event participants.

She continues to lend a hand in preparing our events and on the turf. Her energy and enthusiasm constantly inspire us to go that extra mile.

2016

Scientific/Medical Research Award

Dr. André Robidoux

Dr. Robidoux is professor of surgery at the Université de Montréal where he is also the Scotiabank Chair in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer. He directs the Groupe de recherche en cancer du sein du CHUM. Dr. Robidoux was also elected to the board of directors of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project (NSABP) and is a principal investigator of NRG Oncology. He has served on the advisory committee for research of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, the Royal College Council and numerous NSABP committees.

In 2010, Dr. Robidoux received the British Journal of Surgery Lecture Award from the Royal College of Surgeons Association of England and the Distinguished Investigator Lifetime Achievement Award from NSABP for his unwavering commitment to NSABP and oncology research. He was also appointed NSABP’s senior liaison officer in Canada. In 2010, Dr. Robidoux was elected to the board of directors of the Canadian Partnership against Cancer and was instrumental in the recent creation of the Quebec-based McPeak-Sirois Research Group, which includes three universities, and chairs its scientific committee.
His greatest contribution is the adoption of a scientific approach for the significant contribution of clinical studies in patient management. In 2013, Dr. Robidoux published the book Reasons for Hope: What Research Tells Us about Breast Cancer.

Community Innovation Category

ROSE Network

From left to right: Dr. Michel Dorval and Dr. Jocelyne Chiquette (representing the Réseau ROSE), with Angèle Dubeau and Mitsou Gélinas.

Réseau ROSE (Ressources en Oncogénétique pour le Soutien et l’Éducation) network is a group of health professionals, scholars, managers and patients whose mission is to inform and support people at hereditary risk of cancer by making a team of specialized oncogenetic specialists available to them.

Réseau ROSE is the culmination of work begun in 2010 by senior physician Dr. Jocelyne Chiquette and researcher and university professor Dr. Michel Dorval. Inspired by several scientific studies, it stems from the clinical experience of doctors at the Centre des maladies du sein Deschênes-Fabia at the CHU de Québec-Université Laval who have identified the support and information needs of the women at risk of breast cancer and their families. In September 2012, funding from the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation made it possible to set up the Centre ROSE in Québec City. In 2015, additional funding from the Foundation facilitated the Réseau ROSE, an expansion of the Centre ROSE’s mission to include other partners already working in the field of hereditary cancer.

Pam McLernon Volunteer Engagement Award

(left to right) Diane Paquette, Micheline Cloutier-Coffin, Mitsou Gélinas

In 2011, Diane Paquette launched the Rallye pour la Guérison tournament at the Laval sur le Lac golf club. This rally for the cure tournament, open only to the Club’s female members, shows the great solidarity among women in the face of breast cancer. Today, this unifying event raises more than $20,000 a year for the Foundation, for a grand total of $123,500.

JoAnne Kelly Rudy Volunteer of the Year Award

Claude Thibault

Claude Thibault joined the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation as a volunteer soon after its creation. She has accompanied and supported the Foundation’s teams, both in the offices and in the field, for more than 20 years. Her kindness, generosity and unwavering smile have truly contributed to the Foundation’s development.

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