The Research Professionals Excellence Awards

The Research Professionals Excellence Competition is awarded by each Fonds, and aims to recognize the contribution of research professionals to research, knowledge mobilization, training for new generations of researchers or supporting groups of researchers in all areas covered by the three Fonds de recherche du Québec.

1st prize: François Fontaine, Université de Montréal

Having earned a master's degree in veterinary science from Université de Montréal, François Fontaine began his career at CHU Sainte-Justine in 2005 as a research assistant, where he worked in Dr. Haddad's laboratory on the creation of humanized mouse and flow cytometry platforms and developed joint expertise in laboratory work and clinical research. He joined the centre's administrative team in 2014 to become involved in the management of research laboratory operations, where he acquired extensive knowledge in the management of physical building facilities and a specialization in regulatory standards for level-3 containment laboratories. He is the head of the staff training program for wet lab biosafety and took part in the planning and execution of the research centre's move in 2017. He ensures the application of best research practices through the integration of ISO standards in the laboratory and through his recent Lean Six Sigma certification.

Mr. Fontaine is a research professional with a wide range of multidisciplinary skills that complement his field experience in both basic and clinical research, making him a key resource person for the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre. 

2nd prize: Phetsamone Vannasing, Université de Montréal

Phetsamone Vannasing has been a research professional at CHU Sainte-Justine since 1993, where she has held the position of research coordinator and technician in the Neurodevelopmental Optical Imaging laboratory (LION) since 2013. She is responsible for the implementation of research protocols and the acquisition and analysis of the near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG) data for all studies on cerebral, cognitive and language development in healthy children and in young patients with various clinical conditions (prematurity, congenital heart disease, epilepsy).
Phetsamone is passionate about her work, constantly seeking to improve data acquisition and analysis methods in brain imaging. Her experience includes setting up a state-of-the-art multimodal recording platform combining EEG, NIRS, eye tracking and electrodermal systems. In addition, in order to meet the specific needs of various projects by ensuring uniform data quality, she has developed comfortable and very stable NIRS-EEG helmets for newborns, children and adults. Her interpersonal skills allow her to obtain the cooperation of parents and participants during brain recordings, even with the most agitated and difficult children.
The scientific excellence of her work and her outstanding critical thinking are evidenced by an impressive number of publications (41 articles, with 3 as first author and 6 as second author), including several in leading journals (Cerebral Cortex, Neuropsychologia, Epilepsia etc.). Finally, she received the 2010 Justine Award in recognition of her important contribution to the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre.

3rd prize: Julie-Christine Lévesque, Université Laval

After obtaining a master's degree in neuroscience from Université Laval in 2004, Julie-Christine Lévesque was hired as a research professional at the Bioimaging platform of the Infectious Disease Research Center (CRI). She was then appointed coordinator of this platform in 2009. Over the past 15 years, Julie-Christine has acquired extensive expertise in the field of optical microscopy and electronic microscopy and has been able to adapt and develop a variety of imaging protocols to assist the many research teams that use the platform's services.

Since her arrival, she has offered more than 500 theoretical and practical training sessions to scientists of all levels and various research fields and private companies in the Québec City area, so that they can use the platform's state-of-the-art equipment by themselves. She has also been invited to give several courses and seminars in her field of expertise.

Committed to the training of the next generation of scientists, Julie-Christine is also involved in various science promotion events such as the Chercheur-e d'un jour program, CRI's open house days, the Salon Carrière Formation de Québec and workshops in elementary schools. She has also volunteered as a judge at regional science fairs for the past 15 years.

1st prize: Éric Bonneil, Université de Montréal

Éric Bonneil earned a doctorate in analytical chemistry from Université de Montréal, completed his postdoctoral studies at the NRC Institute for Biological Sciences in Ottawa and went on to work as a senior researcher at Caprion Proteomics. In 2004, he joined the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) to oversee the proteomics platform. He is currently responsible for platform logistics and operations, student training, the implementation of new techniques and the services provided by IRIC to researchers around the world.

To date, over 250 research groups have benefitted from the centre's proteomics platform. Éric has collaborated on a number of projects ranging from the use of ionic mobility to enhance mass spectrometry instrument sensitivity for proteomics applications to the discovery of tumour-specific antigens in noncoding regions of the genome. He has also helped train over 20 students and postdoctoral fellows in mass spectrometry.

The research conducted by Éric Bonneil has contributed to the publication of 70 articles in leading scientific journals, including Cell and Nature Communications.

2nd prize: Ouhida Benrezzak, Université de Sherbrooke

Ouhida Benrezzak emigrated to Québec in 1982 and completed her graduate studies at Université de Sherbrooke, earning a master's degree in biology from the Faculty of Science and a doctorate in anatomy and cell biology from the Faculty of Medicine. From 1988 to 2006, she worked as a lecturer in the Department of Biology at Université de Sherbrooke and as a research professional at the university and in industry. Since 2006, she has served as the scientific coordinator of the Université de Sherbrooke Centre of Excellence and CHUS Research Centre in Diabetes, Obesity and Cardiovascular Complications, supporting synergies between sector research groups to maximize Université de Sherbrooke's performance, training programs and scientific outreach.

As an expert in animal model and technological platform management for basic and clinical research, Ouhida contributed to the intensification of diabetes imaging collaborations through her professional management of ethical processes and animal transfers, the development of a prediabetic dog model she oversees and the enhancement of state-of-the-art research premises and infrastructures, including a large animal imaging facility, a PET/CT scanner to predict diabetes in humans, a densitometer, indirect calorimetry and angiography rooms and an animal testing room.

In April 2019, Ouhida Benrezzak received the Prix Maurice-Groleau, which is awarded by the executive committee of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Université de Sherbrooke

3rd prize: Geneviève Arsenault-Lapierre, McGill University

Geneviève Arsenault-Lapierre holds a doctorate specializing in Alzheimer's disease. In 2013, she joined forces with Dr. Isabelle Vedel to assemble a national research team focused on the organization of health services for Alzheimer's patients made up of 49 researchers from 6 universities in 3 provinces and 52 collaborators in Québec, Canada and abroad.

In just five years, she demonstrated her leadership as a research associate. Her efforts earned a number of grants totalling $3.5M and multicentre ethics clearances in three provinces. All the while, Geneviève maintained a high level of scientific productivity with 10 articles and 52 presentations at national and international conferences. She accomplished this work thanks to a team of 44 research professionals she trained and supervised.

In her work, she is also able to share her passion for training. Geneviève Arsenault-Lapierre has provided support to clinician-researchers and industrial partners with limited research training and was awarded two team research grants she led herself ($283 000). She has trained and supervised 19 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University.

1st prize: Jean-Luc Simard, CRCHU de Québec – Université Laval

In his 27 years as a research professional at the Infectious Disease Research Centre (IDRC) at CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Jean-Luc Simard has built on his organization skills and initiative and shared his passion for science through many achievements, including the expansion of the centre's DNA sequencing and synthesis service and management of the quality system (over 400 mon procedures and protocols and 1 000 laboratory notebooks totalling over 200 000  pages of experimental results and intellectual property). His work to compare and analyze bacterial genomes led to a number of patents and inventions and the development of tests to diagnose bacterial infection, as well as public-private partnership initiatives valued at over $50M in research grants and contracts and the commercialization of results by organizations that invested over $800M and created over 400 jobs in Québec.

Jean-Luc has helped train over 125 employees and graduate students. He oversees the FRQS-funded Chercheur-e d'un jour program, which, in the past 20 years, has enabled over 4 000 high school students to join a research laboratory for a day and is a volunteer for Expo-sciences, Jeunes explorateurs d'un jour and Innovateurs à l'école.

2nd prize: Christine Jolicoeur, Montreal Clinical Research Institute - Université de Montréal

An experienced research professional, Christine Jolicoeur joined the Cellular Neurobiology research unit at the Montréal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) in 2004. With 20 years' experience in academic laboratories, she has conducted research in prestigious institutions including University College London, UK and Stanford University, California. She also completed advanced training programs in leading stem cell research laboratories at the Institute for Stem Cell Research in Edinburgh and the stem cell research excellence laboratories at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology in London. At the IRCM, she oversees laboratory logistics, the implementation of cutting-edge techniques, researcher student training and new project development, in addition to coordinating projects involving researchers from around the world.

Christine has helped train over 20 students and postdoctoral trainees and mentored high school students seeking to explore a career in research. She is also responsible for the practical component of a course module for master's students in cellular and molecular medicine at Université de Montréal taught at the IRCM.

Her work has supported the publication of over 20 scientific papers in prominent journals such as Nature, Science and Neuron.

3rd prize: Rina Guignard, CHU de Québec Research Centre - Université Laval

Rina Guignard earned a master's degree from INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier. In 1989, she joined the Centre de recherche en organogénèse expérimentale de l'Université Laval / LOEX, which specializes in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. She has contributed to several laboratory projects involving skin, blood vessel and cornea regeneration and brought her scientific rigour, sense of observation and analytical skills to a number of scientific papers, including 25 as a co-author. In 1993, she coordinated the clinical production of tissue to treat burn victims, enhancing the work tools, transplanted tissue, reproducibility and performance. In 2010, her efforts to implement production in quality-controlled clean rooms was remarkable, as she was able to adapt manufacturing protocols, ensure product integrity and train staff members.

Rina has supervised several fellows and trained over 300 students on best laboratory practices and basic cell culture techniques. She is also working to advance two clinical studies on regenerated skin and autologous corneal epithelium culture. Her experience has led her to make a significant contribution to the experimental development of high-quality regenerated tissue and technology transfers to support patient care.

1er prix : Geneviève Robillard, Laboratoire de cyberpsychologie, Université du Québec en Outaouais

Dès l'obtention de son diplôme à la maîtrise en psychoéducation à l'Université du Québec en Outaouais en 2002, madame Robillard a débuté sa carrière de professionnelle de recherche au sein du Laboratoire de cyberpsychologie. Sa grande implications dans la planification et la réalisation des activités de recherche du Laboratoire a permis l'obtention de plus d'une cinquantaine de subventions de recherche (par exemple, Chaire de recherche du Canada, IRSC, CRSH, FRQSC, FCI, etc.), lui donnant l'opportunité de coordonner des projets tels que : 1) développer une infrastructure de recherche permettant d'étudier l'efficacité et le mécanisme d'action de la télépsychothérapie et de la réalité virtuelle; 2) mettre sur pied le seul regroupement pancanadien de chercheurs et de cliniciens qui étudient la cyberpsychologie; 3) créer et évaluer 19 environnements virtuels visant la prévention et le traitement des troubles mentaux; 4) assurer l'encadrement d'étudiants, d'assistantes de recherche et de professionnels; et (5) contribuer à la rédaction d'articles et de communications scientifiques, souvent comme auteure principale.

Sa contribution exceptionnelle aux quatre activités de recherche valorisées par le Fonds de recherche du Québec a permis au Laboratoire de cyberpsychologie d'être reconnu internationalement pour son infrastructure, la rigueur de ses travaux, la formation d'étudiants et ses collaborations internationales.

2e prix : François Tardif, Maison Michel-Sarrazin, Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHU de Québec-Université Laval)

Titulaire d'une maîtrise en biologie cellulaire et moléculaire de l'Université Laval, M. Tardif a rejoint l'équipe de recherche de la Maison Michel-Sarrazin localisée au Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHU de Québec-Université Laval) en 2003. Au cours des années, M. Tardif a participé à de nombreux projets de recherche cliniques, évaluatifs et pharmaceutiques dans le domaine de l'oncologie psychosociale, de la maladie mentale et des soins palliatifs. En 2009, M. Tardif est devenu le coordonnateur d'une équipe de 22 chercheurs de la région de Québec intitulée l'Équipe de Recherche Michel-Sarrazin en Oncologie psychosociale et Soins palliatifs (ERMOS).

Il est présentement candidat à la maitrise en administration publique à l'École nationale d'administration publique (ENAP), dans la concentration : gestion des  services de santé et des services sociaux.

Grâce à ses expériences de travail, il a contribué de façon significative à la mise en place d'un réseau thématique québécois de recherche en soins palliatifs et de fin de vie (RQPSFV) qui fut financé en mai 2017 par le FRQS. Au fil des années, il a effectué près de 70 conférences, participé à la rédaction de plus de 35 demandes de financement et d'une quarantaine d'articles scientifiques, rapports divers et chapitres de livre.

3e prix : René Maltais, Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHU de Québec-Université Laval)

En tant que chimiste médicinal, le Dr Maltais travaille depuis plus de quinze ans au développement de molécules bioactives innovantes ciblant d'importantes maladies comme le cancer, l'Alzheimer et l'endométriose. Une de ces molécules prometteuses, un inhibiteur de la 17β-HSD1 nommé PBRM, cible le cancer du sein et l'endométriose et est à un stade de développement préclinique très avancé s'approchant des essais cliniques, une réalisation remarquable issue d'efforts de recherche entièrement québécois.

Le Dr Maltais est auteur et co-auteur de 50 articles dans des journaux scientifiques de renommée internationale, de 110 communications lors de congrès locaux, nationaux et internationaux, étant désigné à titre d'inventeur dans 5 demandes de brevets. Il est également activement impliqué dans la formation d'étudiants au laboratoire et participe à deux cours gradués et un sous-gradué, à l'Université Laval.

De plus, il est le co-fondateur avec le Pr Poirier du Service de synthèse organique, une composante majeure de la plateforme de chimie médicinale du CHU de Québec. En tant que responsable de ce service, il a supervisé la réalisation de plus de 50 projets liés à la synthèse de molécules d'intérêts pour des chercheurs de la communauté scientifique québécoise et d'ailleurs.

Dominique Petit, agente de recherche au Centre d'études avancées en médecine du sommeil du Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal

Dominique Petit a obtenu son doctorat en sciences neurologiques sous la supervision du Dr Jacques Montplaisir en 1993. Au cours de ses 23 ans d'expérience à titre d'agente de recherche au Centre d'études avancées en médecine du sommeil (CEAMS) du Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal, elle a su se démarquer et est devenue une personne-ressource incontournable pour l'ensemble des chercheurs et des stagiaires de recherche du CEAMS.

Dominique Petit a participé à la rédaction de nombreuses demandes de subventions, d'articles scientifiques et de chapitres de livres, dont plusieurs à titre de première auteure. Elle a contribué de façon étroite à la formation d'une vingtaine d'étudiants à la maîtrise et au doctorat.

Parallèlement à son implication dans chacun des programmes de recherche du CEAMS, elle est responsable depuis 2000 du volet sommeil pour l'Étude longitudinale du développement des enfants du Québec, et elle a développé un axe de recherche sur l'étude des marqueurs précoces de la maladie d'Alzheimer au cours du sommeil.  

Grâce à ses qualités personnelles et à ses connaissances approfondies dans de nombreux domaines, elle s'est vu confier des tâches majeures dans le développement du CEAMS, dont la mise en marche d'un laboratoire d'imagerie cérébrale par émission monophotonique pour des études liées au sommeil, ainsi que du contexte scientifique et réglementaire d'une biobanque pour la réalisation d'études multicentriques sur la génétique du sommeil. Elle est également une personne-ressource en éthique de la recherche pour le CEAMS et a joué un rôle clé dans la mise sur pied d'une équipe permettant la réalisation de contrats de recherche clinique. Elle est maintenant coordonnatrice du réseau canadien sur le sommeil et les rythmes biologiques.  

Enfin, Dominique Petit a contribué au transfert et à la valorisation des connaissances sur le sommeil par le biais d'articles et de conférences, notamment auprès du grand public.