The CanCOLD study, hosted at the RI-MUHC, is one of the most valuable resources in the world to support research on the causes and burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Did you know that in Canada, over two million people live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a debilitating lung condition that can severely limit their day-to-day activities? In the last decades, this disease, which is one of the most important causes of hospitalization, has climbed from fifth, to fourth, to third place as a leading cause of death in our country.

In partnership with eight other university affiliated hospitals across Canada, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has established the Canadian Cohort Obstructive Lung disease (CanCOLD), one of the most valuable resources in the world to support research on the causes and burden of COPD. This longitudinal study is co-led by respirologist Dr. Jean Bourbeau, director of the MUHC’s COPD clinic, CanCOLD primary investigator and scientist in the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre’s (RI-MUHC) Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program, and Dr. Wan Tan from the University of British Columbia, Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, Vancouver, who have devoted themselves to COPD research since the 1990s.

Hosted at the RI-MUHC, CanCOLD has collected data on 1500 individuals from nine university-affiliated hospitals in Canada since 2009. Collected data includes a range of health and risk factor questionnaires, blood draws, spirometry tests, pulmonary function tests, cardiopulmonary exercise tests, and multidetector computerized tomography scans (CT Scans).

CanCOLD is the first and only population-based study worldwide that is specifically designed to investigate the disease. Using cutting edge technology to assess study participants and help answer questions related to COPD, it provides the scientific community with a unique research platform that produces essential evidence to advance knowledge of

  • why people develop COPD,
  • how and why COPD impacts individuals differently,
  • and how to provide better care for people affected by this disease.

“CanCOLD distinguishes itself by being the first cohort study specific to COPD having recruited its participants from the general population rather than in clinical settings. This strategy better reflects the prevalence of COPD in the population at large, including among four typically underrepresented groups: the female population, individuals with mild COPD, those with undiagnosed COPD, and those who have never smoked,” says Dr. Bourbeau. “The data that has been collected over the last 14 years is the most comprehensive in the world to answer questions related to COPD and has allowed for groundbreaking advancements in the field.”

COPD was historically believed to be a smoker’s disease, but CanCOLD has completely changed what we know about risk factors beyond tobacco smoking.

Among other discoveries, CanCOLD showed that:

“Over the past decade, CanCOLD discoveries have translated into clinical practice, guidelines and health policies for the benefit of COPD patients in Canada and worldwide. Today, with over 100 researcher-led projects and over 70 publications, we are proud of the progress we have made and are more committed than ever to continuing our research,” says Dr. Bourbeau. “I want to say thank you to the research teams from the assessment sites, as well as every researcher and every participant who have made this possible. I am also very grateful to the MUHC Foundation and all partners and donors who support our research.”

“The MUHC Foundation proudly supports CanCOLD’s groundbreaking efforts in COPD research. Our mission centres on creating meaningful change, delivering excellence in patient care, and fostering a healthier community. This is why we support experts like Dr. Jean Bourbeau whose pioneering research is paving the way towards lifesaving respiratory care for millions of Canadians,” adds Marie-Hélène Laramée, president and CEO of the MUHC Foundation.

For general information on CanCOLD, visit the study page on the RI-MUHC website.

To learn more, visit

Related news

Dr. Jean Bourbeau honoured by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Canadian Thoracic Society


You might also enjoy...

Where do you go

June 21, 2024