Dream Big

Change the Course of Lives and Medicine.

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Our First Year Of Dreaming Big

Though it has been a difficult year, our community of donors and volunteers came together to dream big for the future of health care. Thanks to your perseverance, together we have raised over $79M toward the Dream Big Campaign to support the brilliant minds, cutting-edge programs and unmatched patient care at the MUHC.

We are proud to be part of such a dedicated community. Thanks to your support, our physician-scientists have found new avenues for innovation, many of them necessitated by the pandemic. They have discovered approaches to fighting COVID-19 in every discipline: cardiologist Dr. Abhinav Sharma is reducing vaccine hesitancy in heart patients, a particularly vulnerable group; simulation training specialist Carolyn White developed training to help health care teams adapt to new COVID-19 protocols; and Sophie Blondin of the Breast Clinic Wellness Program adapted the entire program to an online format to ensure breast cancer patients receive continued support.

These examples of innovation and flexibility inspire us. And they would not be possible without you. With your support, we have approached the COVID-19 pandemic from every angle, and put big dreams into action to improve health care for all.

Thank you for dreaming big with us.

Suzanne Legge Orr     
Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair

Jean Charest
Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair

Marc Parent
Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair

Campaign Highlights

Infection & Immunity:
Solve Humanity's Deadliest Puzzles

Building on a partnership between McGill University and the MUHC, The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) was created in 2017 to address the global threat of infection. It brings together over 250 researchers from a wide range of fields to find solutions to humanity’s deadliest puzzles: tuberculosis, COVID-19, and the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. We are raising $60 million to improve the health of people worldwide.

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Legge Orr MI4 Leadership Award

The Legge Orr MI4 Leadership Award, created thanks to a generous $1 million gift from Suzanne Legge Orr and Jeffrey Orr, is supporting MI4’s leadership to drive its mission forward.

Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair Suzanne Legge Orr and husband Jeffrey Orr donated $1 million to create the Legge Orr MI4 Leadership Award. This new award will provide crucial funding to MI4 to ensure it has a strong leader who can drive forward the initiative’s mission to find innovative solutions to some of the world’s deadliest diseases: tuberculosis, hepatitis C, COVID-19 and more.

The donation will support the leadership of MI4 Director Dr. Donald Sheppard, who created the initiative. Recognizing the importance of talented leadership, the Legge Orrs made an eight-year commitment to supporting Dr. Sheppard’s work, and that of MI4 leaders to come.

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Years-Long Mystery Illness Comes To Light

After years of illness and misdiagnoses, David Ray met parasitic disease expert Dr. Momar Ndao, who finally diagnosed him. Now on the mend, Ray is fundraising to support Dr. Ndao’s work.

David Ray’s life changed the day he was bitten by his brother’s dog. From then on, he was plagued with a range of physical and neurological symptoms that no physician could diagnose. For years, David searched for answers, seeing doctor after doctor. Then, he met parasitic disease expert Dr. Momar Ndao and the team at the MUHC Tropical Disease Clinic. After meeting Dr. Ndao, Ray knew he was in good hands, and that he would finally receive the care he had been desperately seeking.

With the help of Dr. Ndao and Dr. Donald Vinh, Ray received the tests that confirmed what he has suspected all along: he had a parasitic infection. Now on the mend, David has raised over $14,000 through the MUHC Foundation to help Dr. Ndao purchase state-of-the-art equipment that will assist him with diagnosis, patient care and research.

Pfizer Early Career Investigator Award

The Pfizer Early Career Investigator Awards enable two early career scientists per year to search for innovative solutions to infectious diseases. This new award was made possible thanks to a $600,000 donation from Pfizer Canada.

The Pfizer Early Career Investigator Awards will provide emerging scientists and researchers across the McGill and MUHC community the opportunity to undertake high-impact research to curb the threat of infectious diseases and change the course of medicine. Over a three-year period, $100,000 each will be awarded to two recipients per year, one PhD scientist and one clinician-scientist. Support for the next generation of researchers is key to accelerating discoveries—from conception to practical applications in the real world.

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MI4 Director Dr. Donald Sheppard Wins Prize

Dr. Don Sheppard, Director of MI4, is the 2021 recipient of the McGill Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement through Media for providing critical COVID-19 information to the public.

The McGill Principal’s Prize for Public Engagement through Media recognizes outstanding achievement among those who share their knowledge with the public and the media, and who uphold McGill’s commitment of service to society and community engagement. Dr. Sheppard received the award for his outstanding communication of COVID-19 information throughout the pandemic. His media presence was instrumental in providing clear and accurate information about COVID-19 and critical public safety measures.

“Infectious diseases—like COVID 19—are among the greatest threats to humanity, and have been from time immemorial. Our ability to survive these diseases is one of our species’ greatest achievements. We are proud to lead the Solve Humanity’s Deadliest Puzzles campaign to ensure that the most dangerous infectious diseases are treatable and survivable now and into the future.”

—Heather Munroe-Blum and Claire Trottier, Solve Humanity’s Deadliest Puzzles Campaign Co-Chairs

Fix Broken Hearts

When a heart attack strikes. When a heart valve isn’t working. When an artery is blocked. When a tragedy leads to a lifesaving transplant… every heartbeat forever after is a triumph. We are raising $50 million so that in ten years, Montreal will have the lowest rate of hospitalization and fewest deaths due to heart disease in Canada. When we are successful, we’ll all be living longer and richer lives.

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Courtois Cardiovascular Signature Program Launches

The Courtois Cardiovascular Signature Program, a 10-year study to better understand the risks for developing cardiovascular disease, launched in 2020. The study is made possible thanks to a transformative $18M gift from the Courtois Foundation. 

The new Courtois Cardiovascular Signature Program is pioneering tomorrow’s precision medicine in cardiovascular diseases by mapping our signatures—things that make us entirely unique like genetics, lifestyle and more. 

Led by cardiologist Dr. Nadia Giannetti, the program will map participants’ blood, genomes and biomes, and image their hearts and carotid arteries. By re-examining each participant regularly over the course of ten years, the program’s physician-scientists will find patterns and unlock new knowledge about heart disease risk. The goal? In ten years, Montreal will have the lowest rate of hospitalization and fewest deaths due to heart disease in Canada. The MUHC Foundation is grateful to the Courtois Foundation for their transformative $18 million gift to make this study possible.

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New App Helps Canadians Get Moving

Cardiologist Dr. Abhinav Sharma received a $100,000 LEAP grant to develop MyHeart Counts, a new app that will help improve the heart health of Canadians. 

The new MyHeart Counts app will get Canadians moving to improve cardiovascular health. Modeled after the University of Stanford’s app—which Dr. Sharma helped develop—MyHeart Counts uses artificial intelligence with real-time feedback and support to improve physical activity and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Thanks to the $100,000 LEAP grant, Dr. Sharma will be able to develop the app for Canadian users.

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Skip Beloff Champions Care For Little-Known Heart Condition

When Skip Beloff was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, or Stiff Heart Syndrome, he knew he had to do something to raise awareness for this little-known disease. He is fundraising to make the MUHC a leader in cardiac amyloidosis research and care. 

Charles “Skip” Beloff was just returning from an Italian vacation with his wife when he began to experience some strange symptoms. He went from enjoying the hot weather and great food of Italy to light-headedness and shortness of breath. Athletic his entire life, Beloff had never experienced any serious health issues. After five months of uncomfortable testing, misdiagnoses, scary prognoses and international visits to specialists—which Beloff refers to as a “wild goose chase”—he was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis. Cardiac amyloidosis is a build-up of abnormal protein around the heart. Over time, these amyloid proteins replace normal tissue, impacting the heart’s ability to pump blood and transmit electrical signals, eventually resulting in heart failure.

Colloquially, it is called Stiff Heart Syndrome because the heart tissue thickens and becomes less flexible. Once considered a rare condition, physicians are now finding that cardiac amyloidosis is much more common than previously thought.  Grateful for his treatment at the MUHC, Skip is giving back to his cardiology team through the Dream Big. Fix Broken Hearts campaign and by fundraising through the MUHC Foundation to create a Cardiac Amyloidosis Research Program, led by cardiologist Dr. Michael Chetrit.

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WHHI Helps Women Take Control of Their Health

When Cheryl Beck had a heart attack at age 53, she was in disbelief. Following her recovery, the Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative (WHHI) helped her change her lifestyle to reduce the risk of a second heart attack. 

The day Cheryl Beck had a heart attack, she had jet lag and was feeling unwell. Her husband looked up her symptoms, gave her an Aspirin and drove her to the emergency room. His hunch was right: Beck was having a heart attack. Following this frightening experience, Beck got in touch with nurse Wendy Wray, founder and director of the Women’s Healthy Heart Initiative (WHHI) at the MUHC. The WHHI is the first collaborative nurse-led women’s heart disease prevention program in Canada. Its goal is to empower women to take control of their own heart health through awareness, education and prevention. Incorrectly assumed to be a “man’s disease,” signs of heart disease in women are often overlooked, despite the fact that it kills one in three Canadian women. Worse, heart disease in women is under-diagnosed, under-treated and under-researched. 

WHHI is a self-referral program, meaning any woman can sign up without the referral of a doctor. The program is entirely donor funded, and is free for participants. To date, WHHI has helped over 1,000 women reduce their risk of heart disease. Through WHHI, Beck received personalized cardiac care, and the knowledge and tools to help reduce her risk of having another heart attack.

“We have seen first-hand how community support can transform health care—it can build a hospital like the MUHC. It can also change the future for the 90% of us who have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. If we Dream Big together, we will Fix Broken Hearts.” 

—Patricia Saputo, Patrick Shea and Sam Reda
, Fix Broken Hearts Campaign Co-chairs 

Stop the Silent Killer

Ovarian and endometrial cancers are silent killers, seldom presenting symptoms until it is too late. The sooner these cancers are detected, the more likely they are to be survivable. Gynecologic oncologist Dr. Lucy Gilbert has the answer: the DOvEEgene test. As routine as a pap smear, this minimally invasive test can detect cancer using DNA analysis before it becomes a death sentence. It's a historic discovery, one that could save millions of lives. And it’s made in Quebec. Together, we have raised over $1.9 million to support DOvEE.

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A Gift To Honour A Mother Lost

After losing his wife Ronda to ovarian cancer, Cary Green gave $50,000 in support of the DOvEE project to ensure other families don’t lose a loved one to this silent killer.

Ronda was a loving mother of three and a new grandmother. She loved golf, skiing, traveling, entertaining and playing mahjong, but above all, she loved spending time with her family and friends. Like so many women, Ronda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the late stages of the disease. Cancers of the ovaries and endometrium rarely present symptoms, meaning that most women don’t realize something is wrong until it is too late.The Green Family’s gift will help ensure more women are diagnosed earlier, to ensure other families don’t lose a loved one to ovarian cancer.

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No More Women Lost Campaign

The MUHC Foundation teamed up with Quebec media personality Julie Snyder, host of La semaine des 4 Julie, to ensure there are No More Women Lost to ovarian and endometrial cancers. Together we raised funds for early detection of women’s cancers to ensure no more mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are lost to the silent killers.

The campaign raised over $150,000 toward the final clinical trial of the DOvEEgene test to ensure this historic, made-in-Quebec discovery becomes a standard part of women’s care. Taking place over two months, the campaign included features on Snyder’s show, La semaine des 4 Julie.

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Giving Tuesday Raises $80k To Stop the Silent Killer

On Giving Tuesday 2020, our donor community raised $80,000 in support of DOvEE. 

Combined, more than 3,000 Canadian women die each year from ovarian and endometrial cancers. In fact, these cancers are the fourth-highest cause of cancer cases and deaths in Canadian women. Thanks to your support, Dr. Lucy Gilbert and her team are now in the final clinical trial of the DOvEEgene test, the world’s first reliable way to diagnose ovarian and endometrial cancers early, when the disease can still be cured. With your outstanding support, we raised over $80,000 to support Dr. Gilbert and her team as they surmount the last hurdle before the DOvEEgene test becomes a standard part of women’s health care.

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Dr. Lucy Gilbert Named To Top 25 Women of Influence

Gynecologic oncologist and DOvEEgene inventor Dr. Lucy Gilbert was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2021 for being an outstanding role model for women in STEM. As a remarkable leader and change agent, Dr. Lucy Gilbert has been named to the Top Women of Influence™ for 2021—a celebration of Canada’s most accomplished women role models. 

“When I began my career in medicine, there were very few women, especially in surgery. I was inspired by those few women who had broken that glass ceiling. I hope I can do the same for young women today, especially visible minorities. I want women to know that you can have a family and a big career. The key is believing in yourself and following your passions.”  

—Dr. Lucy Gilbert , Director, Gynecologic Oncology, McGill University Health Centre

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Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal Fundraises For DOvEE

The Lyceum of Greek Women of Montreal raised over $31,000 with their virtual fundraiser, the Joanne and Melina Virtual Event, featuring Dr. Lucy Gilbert and Canadian Minister of Health Patty Hajdu. 

The Joanne and Melina Virtual Event included heart-wrenching testimonials from cancer survivor Joanne Photiades and Melina Tsagaropoulos, who is currently undergoing treatment. The women provided honest and emotional accounts of their cancer journeys and of becoming mothers following treatment. Featuring opening remarks by Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu, the event included a Q&A with Dr. Lucy Gilbert about her ground-breaking DOvEEgene test. All donations are funding the test’s final clinical trial, which is now enrolling anyone with a uterus between the ages of 45 and 70 (doveegene.com). The event raised over $31,000 to support the DOvEEgene research program.

“It is our big dream that no woman’s life—and no woman’s potential—is cut short by the silent killer. Together, we can usher in a world where ovarian and endometrial cancers are no longer among the deadliest cancers. With Dr. Gilbert’s DOvEEgene test, we can ensure no more mothers, daughters, sisters and friends are lost.” 

—Joanne Photiades, Micol Haimson and Matthew Marchand, Stop the Silent Killer Campaign Co-chairs

Skills & Simulation:
Build Canada's Best Skilled Team

As a leader in education, the MUHC is committed to the continued growth of current and future health care providers. The complexity of patient care has made the need for collaboration between health professionals essential. If health care providers work as a team, they must practice as a team.

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Simulation Training Essential to COVID-19 Care

The MUHC was able to retrain its staff in COVID-19 protocols thanks to a generous gift of simulation equipment and funding from CAE. Simulation training with life-like mannequins helped ensure health care staff were prepared to handle the pandemic. 

At the MUHC, when a patient goes into cardiac arrest, everyone springs into action. Just like in a medical drama, physicians and nurses rush to the bedside at the call of “Code Blue,” airways are checked and chest compressions begin. COVID-19 completely changed this. With such high risk of transmission to health care staff, COVID-19 presented a challenge: physicians and nurses could no longer rush to the bedside to assist a crashing patient. First, they had to don full protective gear. Pausing to put on PPE when a life is at stake is not easy. But this essential step could be a matter of life and death in itself: if an essential health care worker becomes ill, they cannot save lives. And if they become critically ill, they could die. 

To implement these new Code Blue measures, the MUHC turned to simulation training. Hundreds of staff received training using life-like simulation mannequins donated by CAE. Recognizing the need for on-site simulation training at the MUHC, CAE donated $500,000 in funding and equipment to the MUHC’s Skills and Simulation Network in early 2020. Little did they know that this equipment would prove essential to training the MUHC’s staff in pandemic procedures.

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Giving Lifesaving Skills A Boost

The Interprofessional Skills and Simulation Network (ISSN) is boosting lifesaving skills and teamwork across the MUHC thanks to a $500,000 gift from SNC-Lavalin. The donation will fund increased access to simulation training for health care teams.  

Simulation training involves creating true-to-life patient scenarios using high-tech simulation mannequins. These life-like “patients” can simulate heart attacks, respiratory distress and dozens of other medical situations to allow health care workers to practice their skills before they perform them on real patients. SNC-Lavalin’s support is ensuring continued excellence in care for the 1.9 million Quebecers the MUHC serves. Just knowing where a piece of equipment is kept can speed up response to a medical emergency, and the ISSN will help ensure staff know how to perform their role as part of a cohesive health care team.

“Having the time to actually pause and learn from simulations not only gives us the confidence as professionals, but allows us to learn essential lessons. At the end of the day it is all about making sure we provide the best care possible for our patients.”

– Christine Echegaray-Benites, Advanced Practice Nurse

Breathe Easier

In February 2021, the MUHC Foundation launched the Dream Big. Breathe Easier campaign to raise $10 million to support breathtaking research and breath-giving care. The campaign will focus on four pillars: Excellence in patient care through improved diagnostics, updated equipment, and talented personnel. Home monitoring so physicians can track patient symptoms, even when they are at home. Research innovation grants to provide critical funds to scientists with big dreams for the future of respiratory medicine. A respiratory clinical trials program to provide the infrastructure, equipment and expertise to carry out clinical trials of the latest treatments for respiratory disease. This ambitious campaign will ensure the MCI continues to provide cutting-edge care to its patients.

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A Historic Foundation Merger

On April 1, 2021, the Montreal Chest Institute (MCI) Foundation officially merged with the MUHC Foundation, joining forces to help patients living with complex and chronic respiratory conditions breathe easier and live longer. Together, under the MUHC Foundation banner, the foundations will have an even bigger impact on patients. The new MCI Fund of the MUHC Foundation will ensure the MCI continues to flourish and play a global leadership role in respiratory care, teaching and research.

“By joining forces with the MUHC Foundation, we can better support the renowned team of scientists conducting ground-breaking research. Together, we can work towards developing innovative solutions that will allow millions of people with respiratory disease, in Quebec and around the world, to breathe easier.”

– Bryan Fitzpatrick, Former Chairman, Montreal Chest Institute Foundation and Member, Board of Directors, MUHC Foundation

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Supporting Emerging Researchers

A generous $250,000 gift from an anonymous donor is supporting the Margaret Becklake Fellowship for up-and-coming respiratory scientists, as well as projects related to respiratory sleep disorders and other lung diseases.

Dr. Margaret Becklake was a pioneer of respiratory medicine. A distinguished physician-scientist at the MCI and McGill University, she established the renowned Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit. The Dr. Margaret Becklake Fellowship supports the research and training of an up-and-coming respiratory scientist from an Indigenous community or low- or middle-income country. Thanks to a generous $250,000 gift from an anonymous donor, half of which will support the fellowship, the next generation of researchers in respiratory disease will receive the support they need to become experts. The other half of the gift will support projects related to respiratory sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, and other lung diseases.

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Treating Post-COVID-19 Symptoms

The MCI is creating the Post-COVID-19 Clinic to support the many “long-haulers” who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms six months or more after diagnosis. 

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are starting to see some of the lasting effects of the virus. Research has found that 42% of COVID-19 patients are still experiencing symptoms six months after their initial illness. This means that nearly half of those who were infected with COVID-19 are experiencing shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste and smell, muscle aches, and in serious cases, lung damage. To support these individuals, the MCI is creating the Post-COVID-19 Clinic. Many of the long-lasting effects of the coronavirus can be improved by ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment, and the MCI has the expertise to provide this much-needed care.

“Breathing is something we take for granted, but for someone with a respiratory disease, every breath is a struggle. Millions worldwide live with lung conditions, and we must find innovative new ways to treat these illnesses. We are honoured to help the Montreal Chest Institute ensure our community breathes easier.” 

—Scott Jones, Paul Beattie and John Kalaydjian, Breathe Easier Campaign Co-chairs

End Cancer

Your grandfather. Your aunt. Your best friend. Your dad. Your sister. You. Not one person is untouched by this disease. In 2018, 9.8 million people worldwide died from cancer, including 82,000 Canadians. One in two Canadians is expected to develop cancer, and one in four is expected to die from it. We have a plan to end cancer: we will catch it early. Understand it down to its genetics. Discover its weaknesses. We are raising $35 million to end cancer.

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New Partnership Improves Cancer Treatment

A new public-private partnership that includes the RI-MUHC and MEDTEQ+ is pioneering personalized medicine for stageIV colorectal cancer patients to improve survival. 

A new partnership with MEDTEQ+, the RI-MUHC, MIMs, and Caprion-HistoGeneX, respective leaders in cancer research, artificial intelligence (AI), and precision medicine, is helping increase survival of stage IV colorectal cancer patients. MUHC oncology surgeon and researcher Dr. Peter Metrakos and his team are improving survival rates of patients diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer by using AI to create personalized treatments for each individual.

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Improving Cancer Treatment Using AI

A generous $250,000 gift from Pomerleau, matched by MEDTEQ+, is helping cancer researchers Dr. Peter Metrakos and Dr. Anthoula Lazaris gain new insights into colorectal cancer and how to treat it. Pomerleau, one of Canada’s leading construction companies, joined forces with the MUHC Foundation to support a ground-breaking cancer project. With a $250,000 donation over five years, Pomerleau is supporting research led by Dr. Peter Metrakos, Cancer Research Program Lead at the RI-MUHC.

Using local engineering expertise in artificial intelligence, Dr. Metrakos’ work will significantly improve survival rates of patients diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canadians and is responsible for more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer. Stage IV colorectal cancer is incredibly deadly, with a five-year survival rate of only 12%. Using liquid biopsy techniques, Drs. Metrakos, Lazaris and their team will separate DNA, RNA, proteins and other constituent parts of the blood, to identify the ones associated with a patient’s cancer. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to identify patterns and insights into the data gathered from each patient’s blood sample.

These patterns will then be used to create a test that will predict outcomes, providing a critical key to personalized treatment and improved survival. Pomerleau’s gift was matched by MEDTEQ+, an initiative of the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation.

“Our goal is to understand each individual’s cancer so we can provide precise and personalized treatment that saves lives.”

–Dr. Peter Metrakos
, Cancer Research Program Leader
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