8 research

Be the best at what we do.

Home / The 8 Research Themes

The 8 Research Themes

The major focus of the CRCHUM’s research themes is the prevention and treatment of chronic adult diseases, that is, diseases that stalk us all as we grow older. The particular themes at the CRCHUM reflect the expertise of its researchers and are in line with the CHUM’s health care priorities.


Breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer are all chronic diseases that can lead to death. Our basic and clinical researchers focus on these cancers as well as others with a view to developing tools that will help in early diagnosis, prevention and treatment, as well as in acquiring a greater understanding of the genetic and environmental risk factors for this disease.

Theme leader: Anne-Marie Mess-Masson, PhD

Tissue Injury, Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

Our immune system is what protects us and keeps us alive in the event of infection. Certain infections like hepatitis C, however, our immune system requires help. And there others, like HIV, which attack the immune system itself, rendering it incapable of doing its job. It is also our immune system that can hinder the success of life-saving organ transplants. The researchers in this theme work to understand, help and control the immune system, in particular in the following areas: infection, allergic and autoimmune conditions, burns, transplantation and inflammatory disorders of the hepatic and gastro-intestinal system.

Theme Leader: Daniel Kaufmann, MD

Imaging and Engineering

Be they the result of osteoarthritis, injury, neurological or muscular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequent causes of chronic disability, ranking second in terms of health care costs in Canada and Quebec. The list of effects range from swollen joints, chronic pain, “mangled” knees, spinal deformities, and so on. Their consequences can be slight or quite significant, preventing us from doing even the most day-to-day activities such as going up a set of stairs, walking, holding a cup or a child’s hand. Our researchers devote themselves to early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of these disorders.

Theme Leader: Jacques A. De Guise, ing., PhD

Global Health

Maternal mortality is no longer a priority health problem in care in Quebec, where equitable access to health care is taken for granted. Elsewhere in the world, however, especially in developing countries, these and many other serious health-related problems are part of day-to-day life for millions of people. The researchers in this theme work hand in hand with actors in local communities to identify and resolve these issues. Forefront in their concerns is effective transfer of knowledge enabling local communities to take these matters in hand.

Theme leader: Christina Zarowsky, MD, PhD


Cardiometabolic and respiratory diseases are the main causes of mortality and morbidity and account for the lion’s share of health system costs. But what triggers these diseases? Are some of us more prone to them than others? What is the role of our genetic profile? Our environment? Our lifestyle? And how can they be treated and their progressed slowed? These and many other questions underlie the research activities in this theme.

Theme Leader: Johanne Tremblay, PhD, FCAHS


Ataxias, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s diseases and Lou Gehrig’s disease are all complex diseases with serious and at times fatal outcomes. The causes are poorly understood. The researchers in this theme focus their efforts on improving our understanding of their biological and genetic causes and potential treatments.

Theme leader: Alexandre Prat, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Risks to health

While biological disorders and genetic deficiencies are important factors in the onset of many diseases, they do not account for everything. Indeed, for many diseases, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, HIV infection, hypertension, our lifestyle and environment play a critical causal role. The researchers in this theme focus their efforts and identifying modifiable causes of these diseases and in so doing pave the way to implementing preventive measure that can save both suffering and a heavy economic burden.

Theme Leader: Lise Gauvin, PhD

Evaluation, Health Care Systems and Services

Why is it so difficult to find a family physician? Does our health system have the right approach to managing the increasing incidence of chronic diseases in our ageing population, especially when many of these diseases – cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, diabetes, and musculoskeletal disorders – can and often do occur simultaneously?  Is the health care system itself a determinant of health. These and many other questions are at the heart of research in this theme.

Theme leader: Janusz Kaczorowski, MA, PhD