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Thursday, June 25 2020

Helping lead the fight against COVID-19: Drs. Francine M. Ducharme and Caroline Quach-Thanh are on the frontlines with healthcare workers fighting the pandemic

MONTRÉAL, June 25, 2020 – Workers in the healthcare network are on the frontlines of COVID-19, and understanding how the coronavirus affects them is essential for facing possible subsequent waves of the pandemic.

In light of this, the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre is pleased to announce that two major projects related to these issues are receiving substantial financing – over $6 million – from the Government of Canada.

The grants are part of a new COVID-19 rapid research funding opportunity offered by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

The two projects are led by Dr. Francine M. Ducharme and Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, whose expertise in epidemiology and respiratory health and infectiology-immunology, respectively, is internationally recognized.

Primary Prevention

PRevention of COVID-19 with high dose Oral vitamin D supplemental Therapy in Essential healthCare Teams (PROTECT), the project directed by Dr. Francine M. Ducharme at CHU Sainte-Justine and Dr. Cécile Tremblay at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) will assess whether healthcare workers who receive high doses of Vitamin D have a lower risk of getting infected with COVID-19. Studies have shown that Vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of common respiratory diseases, especially for people with lower intake of Vitamin D.

If high doses of Vitamin D prove to be effective for reducing COVID-19 infections or their severity and duration, this may be the least costly and most easily applicable approach for preventing infection in at-risk healthcare workers.

“If the benefit also leads to fewer and shorter worker absences, it could considerably reduce the burden on the healthcare system and guarantee enough healthcare staff to battle the current pandemic,” explained Dr. Ducharme, a pediatrician, clinical epidemiologist and researcher.

Evaluation of Reinfection Risk

REinfection in COVid-19 Estimation of Risk (RECOVER), the project directed by Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh at CHU Sainte-Justine, Dr. Yves Longtin at the Jewish General Hospital and Dr. Guy Boivin at the CHU Université Laval Research Centre, will assess the risk of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 for healthcare workers who have already been infected by COVID-19 and will study natural immune response and the risk of symptomatic and asymptomatic reinfection with COVID-19 over a one-year period.

The results of this study will allow public health decision-makers to agree on future deconfinement and pandemic management strategies.

“Showing that being infected with COVID-19 does not protect people from reinfection would completely change the paradigm we are currently operating under,” pointed out Dr. Quach, a pediatrician, microbiologist, infectious disease specialist and researcher.

“These projects will answer fundamental questions that affect the workers on the frontlines of the crisis,” added Dr. Jacques L. Michaud, director of research at CHU Sainte-Justine. “It is important to emphasize that these issues and research results will impact the management of not only workers, but also the general population.”

This funding opportunity is a partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Alberta Innovates, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Research Manitoba, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, Research Nova Scotia and other partners.

About the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

The CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 210 research investigators, including over 110 clinician-scientists, as well as 450 graduate and postgraduate students focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The Centre is part of CHU Sainte-Justine, which is the largest mother-child center in Canada. For more information, go to research.chusj.org

CHU Sainte-Justine

Maude Hoffmann
Communications, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

Media contact:

Florence Meney
Senior Advisor – Media Relations
CHU Sainte-Justine
Tel.: 514-755-2516

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Updated on 6/23/2020
Created on 6/23/2020
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