Dear members of the McGill community,

The last few weeks have tested our strength, resilience, and resourcefulness, and the coming weeks will be no different. But we can all be inspired by some wise advice shared by Dr. Brenda Milner.

Dr. Brenda Milner is the Dorothy J. Killam Professor at The Neuro, and a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. She was born in 1918, at the time of the Spanish flu, and now, at 101, certainly knows a lot about adapting to a world that presents unanticipated challenges. She says that her motto has always been “Don’t be afraid of change, and maintain a sense of humour.” She added that in times like these, we must remember to stay in touch with our friends, and to be guided by science.

McGill’s scientific community has mobilized to do just that: advance research efforts around COVID-19. The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) brings together a network of more than 250 researchers who are focusing their efforts in an unprecedented way, and showing great determination and agility in our collective fight against this virus. A total of $4 million has recently been raised for MI4 through the MUHC Foundation for a new Emergency COVID-19 Research Fund, to bolster research efforts as well as to provide support to patients and resources to hospitals. Fundraising efforts are ongoing, and nearly $1.5 million of that funding has already been made available to the first 16 projects.

So many of us in the community are working to do our part in the midst of this pandemic, and I thank you for that. There is one group in particular that deserves our special support, and that is health care professionals. Whether they work here or around the world, we can all be enormously grateful for their courage and generosity in fighting the battle against COVID-19. To all the frontline health care workers: thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Over the next weeks and months, we are going to continue to learn and adapt to an unpredictable world. As we have already shown, we can learn. We can be creative in finding solutions to new and complex challenges, because that is what McGillians do best.

I am going to keep Dr. Milner’s motto close by me, and try to face change with humour and grace. I hope that she inspires you to do the same. I also hope that the courage and selflessness of our health care workers will inspire you to stay strong and to help others. For me, they are the “true north” that reminds us of what is most important.

I am thankful for everyone’s hard work as we adapt to our new normal, but please keep in mind that this upcoming Friday and Monday are holidays. I hope you will take this time to rest, and to connect with friends, family, and loved ones.




Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

McCall MacBain Professor



April 8 2020