Research Grants: The Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont Is Fostering the Next Generation!

The Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR) Foundation is recognizing the excellence of future researchers by awarding scholarships that enable students to complete a research internship.

Researchers in the Spotlight

In 2021, three young women walked through the doors of the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont Research Center. Through their curiosity and expertise, Pénélope, Cassandra and Béatrice have contributed to the advancement of promising new research. Their input was extremely helpful to the HMR professionals.

Discover these three researchers of tomorrow and the work they have been doing all summer:

Pénélope Abram


Study of the role of an immune cell population in eye diseases

Our vision is essential to daily life. We use it to read, recognize faces, avoid dangers and more! However, vision tends to weaken over time. The different structures of the eye work in harmony to ensure the transmission of visual information to the brain.

Damage to any of these structures can cause vision loss. This is the case with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, globally.

In the advanced stages of AMD, we notice a degeneration of the thin cell layer responsible for capturing light. This causes these photoreceptor cells to “die”, leading to loss of vision.

For example, Dr. Chemtob’s lab is looking at a group of immune cells that are believed to contribute to the progression of the disease. Penelope discovered different behaviours in this cell population, including that it: 

  • Exacerbates damage
  • Amplifies inflammation
  • Contributes to the death of light photoreceptor cells

This enabled the team to characterize a potential target for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.


Cassandra Roussel

Watch out for UV rays!

Melanoma is a cancer of the skin cells responsible for pigmentation. If not detected in time, malignant melanomas form aggressive metastases that are difficult or impossible to treat.

This disease is usually caused by UV rays from the sun. Indeed, these rays produce lesions in DNA. This can cause genetic mutations to build up, leading to the development of skin cancer. Fortunately, the cells that make up our body have a repair system called nucleotide excision that removes this damage!

Cassandra contributed to a study that aims to identify and characterize the function of new molecular players that orchestrate this repair system. This study provides a better understanding of the human body’s defence mechanisms against the development of malignant melanoma. This knowledge will eventually make it possible to improve the prevention and treatment of these cancers.

Béatrice Assaf


KDM4A protein in pediatric leukemia

Cancer cells have characteristics that differentiate them from healthy cells, including increased proliferative capacity, an immature appearance, and resistance to cell death.

Some of these characteristics can boost resistance to conventional treatments and contribute to cancer relapse. Pediatric acute myeloid leukemia MLL-AF9 is a cancer of the blood that is resistant to conventional treatments. Dr. Frédérick-Antoine Mallette’s laboratory is interested in the involvement of the KDM4A protein in this type of cancer, as the protein regulates access to DNA.

Béatrice’s project consisted of studying the involvement of the protein in cells of this type of pediatric leukemia, namely their proliferation capacity, maturity and resistance. With Dr. Mallette’s team, Béatrice also explored the possibility of using a KDM4A blocking drug, in combination with other drugs commonly used in clinics, to maximize the chances of effectively and durably fighting leukemia cells.

These topics may be of interest to you