On May 18, Université de Montréal dedicated its Award of Excellence for Innovation (Prix d’excellence pour l’innovation) to the Molecular and Cellular Medicine (MCM) Master’s option, which is exclusively offered at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM). The MCM training is an option of the Molecular Biology Programs at UdeM’s Faculty of Medicine. This honour, presented as part of UdeM's annual Awards of Excellence in Teaching, recognizes the innovative nature of MCM, as well as its contribution to improving the learning experience of the students.
Expanding the horizons of the next generation of scientists
The MCM Master was created by a team of IRCM researchers in 2013. Their goal was to develop a training program that would allow young scientists to excel in basic research and master laboratory techniques used in biomedical research, while also acquiring an understanding of unmet clinical needs. As scientific fields expand and increase in number at unprecedented speed, researchers require more than ever diverse knowledge.
“Biomedical research students learn about highly specialized molecular mechanisms that are linked to diseases,” said Javier Di Noia, Associate Vice President, Student Affairs, at the IRCM. “With MCM, we ensure that they are also aware of the challenges of applying laboratory findings to the clinic, as well as of the treatments of these diseases and the reality of the clinical setting.”
In order to do so, this intensive one-year training not only allows students to learn the essentials of basic research through theoretical classes, but also to benefit from hands-on experiences. Therefore, they have access to the IRCM’s technological facilities, where they learn to use state-of-the-art equipment with highly qualified staff. MCM students also complete two internship rotations in the IRCM’s laboratories in order to explore their scientific interests and apply what they learned to research projects. Finally, they have the opportunity to discover the medical community through an exclusive translational medicine course and observation internships at the IRCM Clinic.
Following their training, students benefit from a solid background that will allow them to choose a PhD project that fits their research interests.
A collective success
According to Javier Di Noia, the Award of Excellence for Innovation is without doubt the outcome of exemplary teamwork, as several stakeholders joined forces to develop this graduate program.
“In addition to the academic effort, the IRCM benefited from the generous support of the J. A. Bombardier Foundation and the Molson Foundation during the last major campaign of the IRCM Foundation,” he said. “Thanks to this contribution, the Institute can offer nominative scholarships to students, which allow them to get the most out of the intensive experience that is the MCM Master’s degree.”
Dr. Di Noia also mentions the involvement of several stakeholders of the Institute who developed MCM’s unique course: “I would especially like to highlight the contribution of the Research and Academic Affairs Department, as well as researchers and staff who actively collaborate in MCM’s classes,” said Di Noia.
Although the MCM team is proud of this distinction, its members are in a constant quest for improvement. To do so, the program is evaluated on a regular basis by students and teachers and recently underwent an external evaluation. “We strive for excellence, both with the students we recruit as well as with the training we offer them,” said Javier Di Noia.
MCM Master’s Team
Jessica Bonneau, MCM Coordinator
Jean-François Côté, Vice President, Research and Academic Affairs
Javier Marcelo Di Noia, Vice President, Student Affairs
David Hipfner, researcher and head of the selection committee
Nicole Francis and Woong-Kyung Suh, researchers and heads of the Translational research practicum course
Yves Berthiaume and André Veillette, researchers and heads of the Translational medicine practicum course
About 20 professors and a dozen highly qualified staff from the Institute are also involved.