Maryse & William Brock CHAIR in Applied Research into Stem Cell Transplantation


In Canada, blood cancers (leukemias, myelodysplasias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma) are among the most frequently diagnosed types of cancer (according to the Canadian Cancer Society, there were nearly 20,000 new cases in 2013). Blood cancers affect people of all ages, from young children to seniors.

Despite great progress in recent years, over half of all adults diagnosed with blood cancer do not survive. At present, hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation remains the only therapeutic means of curing patients who do not respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

HSC transplantation is an example of regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine may be defined as the replacement of aged or damaged cells with genetically identical cells that are young and fully functional. This can be done by using stem cells isolated from human embryos or adult stem cells from bone marrow or blood stimulated by growth factors. The possible applications arising from regenerative medicine are much greater than was thought until recently. Although much remains to be done, this new kind of medicine clearly has great potential for patients with blood cancers.

Over the past 40 years, scientific research has made transplants possible for fragile or elderly patients, and has made it possible to reduce the risks of complications. This has improved patients’ survival rates. HSC transplantation has become highly complex, with the increase in the sources of stem cells, including bone marrow, blood stimulated by growth factors, umbilical cords and semi-identical donors. However, many problems remain to be solved, chief among them is the difficulty of finding a donor for every patient eligible for a transplant, preventing and treating fatal complications associated with transplants (including graft-vs-host disease), and relapses.

The development of a research infrastructure linking transplant patients with the research conducted within the Université de Montréal laboratory network will allow us to transfer our latest scientific discoveries to patients.

This type of research applied directly to patients, also called translational research, requires a solid clinical research infrastructure to transfer the expertise developed by, and discoveries of, our laboratories to patients, and to develop new treatments. The launch of the Chair in Applied Research into Stem Cell Transplantation for the treatment of blood cancers will make it possible to reach this goal.

Importance of the project

The Université de Montréal and its hospital network have world-renowned expertise in research into blood cancers. Thanks to its affiliated Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR), the Faculty of Medicine is a national and international leader in the diagnosis and treatment of blood cancers.

HSC transplantation is one of the research and clinical specialties of the Université de Montréal. The stem cell transplantation program at Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR), the leading Quebec transplantation centre and the second largest one in Canada, is home to a number of globally renowned clinical and basic researchers in this field, at HMR and the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC). The HMR research centre has built and equipped a $25 million Centre of Excellence for Cellular Therapy (CETC), which is working on a number of translational research projects in close collaboration with the IRIC.

The Chair in Applied Research into Stem Cell Transplantation for the treatment of blood cancers will help us establish a permanent clinical research infrastructure, by making it possible to:

Foreseeable impact and benefits

Most transplantation centres the size of HMR/Université de Montréal have translational research units. Creating a translational research unit at HMR/Université de Montréal will fill this gap. The clinical data generated by the Chair will be invaluable in designing new studies for identifying molecular anomalies leading to blood cancers, so as to develop early diagnostic methods and determine cancer cells’ mechanisms of resistance to treatments.

The Chair will accelerate innovative clinical studies for transplant patients, in connection with basic researchers in the Université de Montréal network and at the HMR’s CETC. The innovations that will result from closer ties between clinical and basic researchers will have a direct impact on patients’ quality of life and will help to save lives.

Project leaders

Dr. Christian Baron

Vice-Dean – Research and Development
Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Mario Talajic

Chair of the Department of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine


Dr. Denis-Claude Roy

Full Professor with the Department of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine (HMR)

Dr. Jean Roy

Full Professor with the Department of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine (HMR)