We are pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas Duchaine, PhD, as Chair of the Department of Biochemistry, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University, effective June 15, 2023. Prof. Duchaine succeeds Albert Berghuis, PhD. We thank Prof. Berghuis for leading the Department since 2013. As Chair, he helped increase the diversity of the department through the recruitment of new faculty, expanded the scope of medically-relevant research pursued in the department culminating in faculty members taking leadership roles in various centres, institutes and research funding opportunities (e.g. Centre for Research in Structural Biology, McGill Centre for RNA Sciences, D2R) and enhanced the undergraduate and graduate programs through pedagogical and curricular updates, and by providing tailored support for instructors.
Prof. Duchaine holds a BSc in Biochemistry from Université de Montréal where he also obtained his PhD in Molecular Biology. He completed post-doctoral work at both the University of Massachusetts Medical School and at McGill University in Prof. Nahum Sonenberg’s lab in the Department of Biochemistry.
Prof. Duchaine is the founding Director of the McGill Centre for RNA Sciences, which was launched in 2022. He is completing a five-year term as Associate Director of the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Institute (GCI). He is also Associate Member of the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology and the Division of Experimental Medicine at McGill.
Prof. Duchaine has made significant contributions to the field of RNA-mediated interference (RNAi), which was discovered by his post-doctoral advisor at the University of Massachusetts, Craig C. Mello, who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery. Prof. Duchaine’s research program focuses on the regulatory functions of non-coding RNAs in the development and onset of cancer. His lab aims to translate fundamental research on RNAi and microRNA pathways into actionable knowledge for cancer treatment. His research program integrates biochemistry, genetics and proteomics approaches to explore newly discovered RNAi-related phenomena. His group recently made significant advances in determining how microRNA biogenesis defects drive tumorigenesis, unveiling new potential therapeutic directions.
During his career, Prof. Duchaine has trained close to 50 undergraduate and graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows. He is highly regarded for his teaching and mentorship, promoting an environment in which trainees acquire proficiency in cutting-edge, multidisciplinary projects, and leadership capacity to leverage collaborations incorporating genetics, genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics.
Prof. Duchaine currently holds operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for two studies: Mechanisms and impact of mRNA alternative polyadenylation in the PI3K/AKT/PTEN Cascade, and Functional genomics of microRNA polycistrons. His research was also supported continuously by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery since 2007. Since his appointment to McGill in 2006, Prof. Duchaine has co-authored 43 peer-reviewed publications, and given more than 92 invited lectures and presentations.
During his tenure as Associate Director of the GCI, in addition to his executive functions, Prof. Duchaine led several community- and trainee-oriented initiatives that helped bolster the Institute’s collegiality and sense of community. He instigated and championed the development of a new interdisciplinary PhD program in cancer sciences. He also organized several public and web events for the GCI including the quarterly Public Forums for the general public on the latest advances in the understanding and treatment of cancer.
As Chair, Prof. Duchaine will bring to the role his leadership experience working with multiple departments and faculties at McGill, as well as with several other renowned institutions. He will refine the Department’s strategic direction and will oversee all undergraduate and graduate programs and research within the Department. Prof. Duchaine’s responsibilities will also include mentoring faculty members at various stages of their careers and advising the Dean on all matters pertaining to the Department, including recruitment, academic appointments, promotion and tenure.
Please join us in congratulating Prof. Duchaine on his appointment and wishing him every success in his new role.
David Eidelman, MDCM
Vice-Principal (Health Affairs)
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Lesley Fellows, MD, PhD
Vice-Dean, Academic Affairs