CHU Sainte-Justine announces the creation of Canada's first Intellectual Disability Research Chair

An extraordinary $3-million gift from the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Foundation gives hope to 160,000 children and adults throughout the province of Quebec

MONTREAL, April 1, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - The CHU Sainte-Justine is proud to announce the creation of the Jonathan Bouchard Intellectual Disability Research Chair, as the result of an outstanding demonstration of support from the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Foundation This $3-million donation represents the largest individual philanthropic gift ever directed toward intellectual disability research in Canada and the first initiative of its kind in the country.

Improving diagnosis: a crucial step to improve care for people with intellectual disabilities
Intellectual disabilities affect 2% of the population, or roughly 160,000 Quebec children and adults. Currently, the root cause in most children goes unidentified, and the absence of a diagnosis is clearly a source of great concern for parents.

"The research made possible by this chair will allow us to identify and gain a better understanding of new genes allowing us to and deliver more precise diagnoses much sooner. It will also enable us to develop effective treatments and perhaps even pave the way to prevention," stated physician and researcher Dr. Jacques L. Michaud, Chief of CHU Sainte-Justine's Division of Medical Genetics and Head of the Pediatric Neuroscience research axis. The creation of this chair will thus have a direct impact on the services provided to children with an intellectual disability, both here in Quebec and elsewhere in the world.

Armed with more in-depth knowledge of the genetic basis of intellectual disability, and fuelled by the staggering progress being made on the biology front, researchers will be significantly better poised to develop new treatment strategies in the coming years. There has never been a better time to push for these major breakthroughs and change the future for children and their families. This significant philanthropic gift will allow us to do so. Considering that genetic factors play a determining role in most intellectual disabilities, genome sequencing, now available at Sainte-Justine, will make it possible to analyze the entire genome of children with these conditions and identify the genes responsible for them. The ability to step up the pace of this research and overcome these diagnostic challenges represents a major step forward in improving overall quality of care and development of each child's potential.

"The CHU Sainte-Justine model is a unique one, combining the best researchers and clinical practitioners in the field, a critical mass of patients and a state-of-the-art sequencing platform," said Dr. Fabrice Brunet, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHU Sainte-Justine. "This new chair, which has been made possible by the exceptional gift from the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Foundation, will empower us to become a global leader in pediatric research and treatment of intellectual disabilities."

"We are especially moved that a project with such promise for families affected by intellectual disability is being developed right here at Sainte-Justine. Through this contribution, inspired by our son Jonathan, we hope to do our part to advance research in this field so that thousands of children in Quebec can achieve their full potential,'' said Sandra Chartrand, President of the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Foundation, and Alain Bouchard, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Couche-Tard.

"We are deeply touched by this very personal and life changing gift from Sandra and Alain Bouchard, who will bring such hope to Quebec families touched by intellectual disabilities," said Maud Cohen, President and Executive Director of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. "This is part of our Healing More Better campaign, the aim of which is to provide the teams at Sainte-Justine with the tools they need to keep developing better ways to heal more children."

About CHU Sainte-Justine
The Sainte-Justine university hospital centre (CHU Sainte-Justine) is the largest mother-child centre in Canada and the second largest pediatric hospital in North America. A member of the Université de Montréal extended network of excellence in health (RUIS), Sainte-Justine has 5,664 employees, including 1,578 nurses and nursing assistants; 1,117 other healthcare professionals; 502 physicians, dentists and pharmacists; 822 residents; and more than 200 researchers, 300 volunteers and 3,400 interns and students in a wide range of disciplines. Sainte-Justine has 484 beds, including 35 at the Centre de réadaptation Marie Enfant, the only exclusively pediatric rehabilitation centre in Quebec. The World Health Organization has recognized CHU Sainte-Justine as a "health promoting hospital."

About the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation
The Foundation's mission is to engage the community and support CHU Sainte-Justine in its commitment to developing better ways to heal more children in Quebec and provide them with one of the highest levels of healthcare in the world. 

About the Sandra and Alain Bouchard Foundation
The Sandra and Alain Bouchard Foundation helps individuals achieve their full potential through two initiatives: the first is designed to encourage artistic development for the greater good, and the second fosters social integration through unique contributions.


SOURCE Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center

For further information: CHU Sainte-Justine, Mélanie Dallaire, Senior Advisor, Media Relations, 514-345-7707 (direct line), 514-415-5727 (media pager),


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