March 27th, 2020

// Sophie Desmarais donates $500,000 to COVID-19 research at the Jewish General Hospital, urges those who can to “donate generously”

Sophie Desmarais donates $500,000 to COVID-19 research at the Jewish General Hospital, urges those who can to "donate generously"

MONTREAL, March 27, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ - A major $500,000 donation from Sophie Desmarais, a passionate philanthropist and member of the well-known Desmarais family, will help propel four high-impact COVID-19 research projects at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital (JGH).

Ms. Desmarais is determined to be a part of the solution in the fight against the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic by providing scientists in the lab with the funding they need to make game-changing discoveries. The results of this research will benefit the global healthcare and scientific communities and advance the development of life-saving drugs, a biobank to predict the treatment of COVID patients, artificial intelligence tools to better predict where the virus will hit, and faster diagnostic tools. 

"The Jewish General Hospital is one of the top Hospitals in Quebec, and when they informed me of these projects, I immediately decided to get involved. I am compelled to support our hometown research expertise in the face of this global epidemic," stated Ms. Desmarais when asked why she chose to support the JGH and COVID research in particular. "We are all in this together. We need to come together and support the exceptional efforts made by medical professionals and researchers. It is essential everyone contributes what they can. However, today I am turning to others who, like me, are from families in a position to give more and asking them to donate generously to the Jewish General Hospital to fund COVID-19 research. It is our responsibility. Together we will get there," concluded Ms. Desmarais.

"The JGH is part of a global community and there are no borders when it comes to COVID‑19. We are striving to strengthen efforts in the face of this virus. Ms. Desmarais' commitment toward funding our researchers will change the course of this worldwide pandemic. Funding research projects such as these four initiatives has the potential to save thousands of lives," said Bram Freedman, President and CEO of the JGH Foundation.

Specifically, $150,000 will be dedicated to Dr. Brent Richards' (McGill University and JGH's Lady Davis Research Institute) project to build a biobank that will make predicting optimal treatment for COVID patients possible. Mandated by le Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ) and the Québec Health Ministry, this province-wide bank of data and biological samples will help answer the three pressing questions; which patients can be sent home safely; which will require hospitalization; and how genetics and risk factors can help to develop successful therapies.

Another $150,000 will serve to fund artificial intelligence to predict where the coronavirus will hit and warn at-risk people. Dr. Justin Cross, Chief Digital Health Officer at the JGH and his team, are creating an analytical tool to respond proactively to the pandemic in a data-driven fashion.

$100,000 will be dedicated to developing the right drugs to combat COVID-19. Dr. Chen Liang (McGill University and JGH's Lady Davis Research Institute) and his team are investigating what makes this new coronavirus transmit so rapidly. This project is currently supported by an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. These additional funds will allow the JGH to assemble a stronger research team with more resources to understand the cause of this devastating disease quickly.

Lastly, $100,000 will serve to develop a faster diagnostic tool. Dr. Mark Trifiro (McGill University and JGH's Lady Davis Research Institute) and his team have introduced a completely novel and straightforward way to generate thermocycling, which will reduce the time and footprint required to diagnose COVID-19. Thanks to this project, tests can be performed where the patients are. This additional funding will allow the JGH to jump to a generation 2 prototype where much smaller volumes are used and can allow even faster results (<5 minutes). 

Since 1969, the Jewish General Hospital Foundation has led a dynamic fundraising program in support of the Jewish General Hospital (JGH), one of the province's largest and busiest acute-care hospitals. A McGill University teaching hospital, the JGH is renowned for the excellence of its healthcare and the calibre of its medical and research staff. Thanks to our passionate and generous donors, volunteers and supporters, the JGH can continue to deliver awe-inspiring medical breakthroughs and keep pushing forward, improving lives and patient-centred care. Our donors and supporters can be proud: Newsweek Magazine rated the JGH the #1 hospital in Quebec, #5 in Canada and among the top hospitals in the world.

See separate bio and photo

Ms. Desmarais is available for interviews.

SOURCE Jewish General Hospital Foundation


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