March 2016
The Neuro News is a monthly newsletter highlighting activities at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital.



The Neuro ICU –  Gold Status in infection control.

Front line nurses – the key to success

Last December, the Neuro’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) accomplished a spectacular feat that all members of the team can be truly proud of. They achieved Gold Status in the Be Line Wise Program by maintaining zero central venous line (CVL) related infections for a period of two years. “This level of excellence is extremely difficult to achieve,” says France Paquet, a clinical practice consultant who has been involved in harmonizing the practices related to central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) at the MUHC since 2010. “Even though 95 per cent of infections are preventable, there’s still that five per cent of catheters that can become infected. So what the ICU at the Neuro did was not a fluke, but a direct result of the impeccable work and constant awareness of the physicians who insert the lines and the nurses who make sure they are spotless.”  Learn more


Front row, left to right: Nedeline Pean, nurse, Michelina Vincellli, administrative clerk, Veronika Leatham, nurse, Anne McManus, nurse, Siva Moonsamy, nurse manager and Marie Claude Lessieur, nurse. Back row, left to right: Nick Boulieris, PAB, James Greene, PAB, France Ellyson, assistant nurse manager, Carole McInnes, nurse and Dr. Abdulrahman Alturki, ICU fellow.


International Visit – Delegation from Shenzen China

On February 22, following the recent signing of a training partnership between The Neuro and Shenzhen Second People's Hospital focusing on Movement Disorders and Epilepsy, Dr. Guy Rouleau, Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and Dr. David Eidelman, Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, hosted a high profile delegation from the city of Shenzhen, China. Amongst the dignitaries present were Ms. Yi Huan Wu, Deputy Mayor of Shenzhen Municipal Government, Ms. Jie Xie, Director of Shenzhen Municipal Foreign Affairs and Administration Office as well as Mr. Liang Cai, Consul and Ms. Xiao Yin Shi, Vice Consul General from the Consulate General of the P.R. China in Montreal.  The group was taken on a tour of the OR, the new stroke Receiving Area and ICU, as well as The Reed Family Motor Neuron Disease Research Unit  (Dr. Bernard Brais) and the BigBrain Lab (Dr. Alan Evans).  Ms. Teresa Mack, Administrative Director of the MUHC’s Neuroscience Mission, Ms. Lucia Fabijan, Associate Director of Nursing, Neurosciences and Dr. Mark Angle, Associate Director, Professional Services and Dr. Lan Xiong, Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Neurology and Neurosurgery of McGill University and Shenzhen Project Coordinator, updated the delegation on the progress of the partnership. The delegation was in Montreal as Shenzhen is the featured international city at Montréal en Lumière.


International Visit – Delegation from Jordan

On February 22 The MNI’s Big Brain Lab hosted a high profile delegation from Jordan, led by H.E. Dr. Labib Al Khadra, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mr. Jean-Philippe Tachdjian, Counsellor Commercial, Embassy of Canada to Jordan and Iraq. Also in attendance

  • H.E. Dr. Abderrazaq Bani Hani, President, Jerash University
  • Dr. Ahmad Hawamdeh, Vice-President, Jerash University
  • Dr. Ibrahim Tahat, Dean, Pharmaceutical, Jerash University
  • Dr. Ayman Maqableh, President, Al Quds College

The delegation, on a visit to Montreal to participate in the annual Association of International Education Administrators conference, was treated to a presentation on the revolutionary atlas by Dr. Alan Evans. The group was then received by Josephine Nalbantoglu, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and taken on a tour of the McGill campus. 


A public thank you to the Montreal Neurological Hospital

Marijke Vroomen Durning took the time to write a public thank you to the staff at The Neuro who cared for a relative who was victim of stroke in late December.  Ms. Vroomen Durning described the care as exemplary and all the staff as knowledgeable caring professionals. Ms. Vroomen Durning’s article was published on February 16, 2016 in Canadian Healthcare Network Nurses & Nurse Practitioners.


The Neuro is Smoke and Vape Free as of March 1

Last fall the MUHC rolled out a new Smoke and Vape Free Policy.  For The Neuro, this means no smoking or vaping will be permitted on hospital grounds. The goal is to promote good health and contribute to a better healing environment. The policy comes into effect at The Neuro on March 1.  Smoking and vaping will only be permitted near the ashtray on University Street near the ambulance entrance.  For more information and resources to help you stop smoking, click here.


Donor Spotlight

The power of philanthropy has been transformational for The Neuro. The philanthropic vision and generosity of our donors has enabled The Neuro to remain at the very forefront of health research and patient care for 8 decades.
Thank you for making a difference!


The Trottier Family Foundation

Every day, 27 Canadians learn that they have brain cancer. But thanks to recent advances in brain cancer biology and next generation science, The Neuro’s Brain Tumour Research Program is developing a revolutionary precision medicine treatment program tailored to each patients’ unique cancer features, allowing us to rapidly and efficiently develop new therapies to reduce the risk of relapse. This new program will be instrumental in adding to our growing cohort of patients who are cancer free at 5 years and counting.


Thanks to the generosity of the Trottier Family Foundation, The Neuro will further this groundbreaking research program through the recruitment of exceptionally qualified students and fellows as well as improve the support given to patients and families coping with a brain cancer diagnosis through our Neuro Patient Resource Centre.


The Trottier Family Foundation’s recent gift of $250,000 has established two vital Fellowships in brain tumor research at The Neuro, both named for the family’s close friend, Dr. Riaz Farookhi, who passed away in 2013 three years after a brain tumour diagnosis. “Dr. Farookhi was a rigorous scientist and his loss was deeply felt across the scientific community,” attests Dr. Kevin Petrecca, head of The Neuro’s Brain Tumour Research Program. “On behalf of the entire Neuro, we extend our sincerest thanks to the Trottier Family. Their generous gift is a lasting tribute to Dr. Farookhi’s memory and one that will greatly benefit our team’s important work for years to come.”


In addition to the creation of the ‘Dr. Riaz Farookhi Postdoctoral Fellowship’ and the ‘Dr. Riaz Farookhi Graduate Fellowship’, the Trottier Family has pledged support for the Neuro Patient Resource Centre to fund vital patient education initiatives related to brain tumour, such as support groups, information sessions and materials, and guidance on resources available within a patient’s community.



Donate NowThe Neuro relies on our loyal community of donors in order to unlock the mysteries behind some of the most devastating neurological diseases and disorders of our time, and to help the patients and families affected by them. Your donation can make all the difference to the future of neurological care. Please give generously!


Community Connections

A Star Both On and Off the Ice.
After undergoing brain surgery at The Neuro for a non-malignant tumour 4 years ago, then Midget AAA Lac St-Louis Lions goalie Nick Gavrielatos realized how lucky he was compared to some of his fellow patients. After his experience, he knew that he wanted to give back so he began volunteering at the hospital – bringing funny movies to patients’ bedsides and stopping in to chat with them through the humour and friendly visits programs.  This February he decided he wanted to do even more and so collected donations at a recent 40 year Lions reunion game. Thanks to Nick’s efforts, $1,036.70 was raised for the Brain Tumour Program at The Neuro and his personal Facebook page fundraiser is ongoing! Thank you so much, Nick! For more information about volunteering at The Neuro, please contact Nevine Fateen at 514-934-1934 ext 34300.

An Unprecedented $55,052.50 Raised for Research into Sensory Neuropathy!

Huge thanks go out to the incredible Mrs. Danielle Lepage-Bonin and her faithful community of supporters. Sensory Neuropathy, a rare neurological disease that disproportionately affects Quebeckers in the Lanaudière region, results in a dangerous lack of sensation in the extremities of the body, causing minor injuries to go unnoticed and become serious. In some cases, patients can even have limbs amputated without anesthesia! Danielle’s fundraising efforts over the past eight years have been instrumental in helping our researchers to better understand the genetic mutation behind the disease, and a new partnership with pain experts from Yale holds great promise for the development of a treatment. If you would like to plan your own fundraiser to benefit research or patient care at The Neuro, please contact Bailey Levine at 514-398-5244.  To learn more about Danielle Lepage’s efforts to raise awareness and funds for research into sensory neuropathy, please click here.


Seeding is Believing for Neuro Patients!

The hard work and dedication of Bennet Desormeau, Justine Enns, and Afuad Hossain – three undergraduate students studying neuroscience at McGill – truly paid off for in‑patients at The Neuro. Thanks to their social media savvy and passion, they exceeded their crowdfunding goal of $3,500 and collected $4,023 to purchase 160 personalized patient welcome kits. These kits contain all the essentials for a hospital stay so that patients and their families can spend time together without worrying about where their toothbrush, hand cream, or crossword puzzles have gone to. On behalf of all the patients at The Neuro who will benefit from their efforts and to everyone who contributed to this important cause, THANK YOU!


Scotiabank Charity Challenge

On Sunday, April 24, 2016, The Neuro will, once again, participate in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge! This annual fundraising event, held in conjunction with the Banque Scotia 21k de Montréal et 5k, allows participants to raise funds in support of The Neuro.


We invite all our faculty, staff and supporters to run, walk, or roll for The Neuro by registering in the 2016 Scotiabank Charity Challenge! Help us reach our goal of $35,000 and sign up today!


In Focus


A fond farewell to Jocelyne Pépin

Jocelyne Pépin nurse manager, O.R and Neuroradiology began her retirement on February 1, 2016.  Jocelyne has been an admirable and much-appreciated asset to the Neuroscience Mission with her expert knowledge, persistent and creative problem-solving, meticulous and ever-vigilant budget management, her work ethic, her positive outlook, respectful and kind interpersonal style, her unswerving commitment to her staff's well-being and, of course, her ability to laugh!  We will miss her and wish her a very healthy and fulfilling retirement.


A warm welcome to Esther Matesi

Esther Matesi, BSc, MSc, who will be replacing Jocelyne as nurse manager, MNH OR and Neuroradiology. With her years of OR nursing and managerial experience, she is certain to be a valuable asset to the Neurosciences team.


Congratulations to ...


Dr. Guiomar Niso, a postdoctoral fellow with Sylvain Baillet in the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre got a cover story in the bulletin of Madrid’s Polytechnic University.  Learn more (see pages 8-11)


In Memoriam


Dr. Fuad Sami Haddad, MD (1924-2015)

Dr. and Mrs. Haddad with Mrs Penfield at the Penfield Estate on Lake MemphremagogDr. Fuad Sami Haddad passed away on November 9, 2015.  Dr. Haddad is considered the founder of modern neurosurgery in Lebanon and contributed significantly to the development of the specialty in the whole area of the Near and Middle East. Fuad graduated from medical school at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1948, and trained in neurosurgery under Dr. Wilder Penfield at the MNI.   When he returned to Beirut, in 1955, there were no fully trained neurosurgeons in the majority of the countries in the Middle East and he became the cornerstone of science, morale, mentoring, and professionalism in the Middle East.  (Excerpted from Mehmet Turgut’s article in Acta Neurochir (2016) 158:405-406)


Dr. Haddad maintained close ties with the Neuro, often writing birthday wishes and special greetings.  On one occasion he sent a copy of an article he wrote in 2000 entitled “Fifty Years Ago” recalling his arrival in Montreal and his experiences at the MNI.   The photo shows Dr. and Mrs. Haddad with Mrs. Penfield on a visit to the Penfield Estate on the shore of Lake Memphremagog.


Mary (Filer) Spence-Sales

Artist and sculptor passed away peacefully on January 29, 2016, in the Vancouver General Hospital at the age of 95. Predeceased by her husband, Harold Spence-Sales; she will be sadly missed by her family members and friends. First as a nurse, then as an artist, Mary contributed to The Neuro’s history starting in the days of Wilder Penfield. Her 1955 mural for The Neuro, The Advance of Neurology (in room 124), remains a point of interest for every visitor and tour group. In fact, identifying the faces of Penfield, Jasper, Cone and other Neuro figures depicted in the mural has become something of a rite of passage for new faculty and staff. The Neuro was fortunate to receive a second piece of Mary’s art, a glass sculpture, Neuressence in 2002, which hangs in the BTRC.  Her art at The Neuro will keep her memory alive here and we gratefully remember her.



Michael McHugh (1949-2015)

Michael McHugh died on November 28, 2015 in Montreal at age 67 after a long illness. Born in 1949, he is survived by his wife, Dr. Molly McHugh, children Oriel (Dr. Maya Leitner) and Dr. Tobial McHugh, as well as grandson, Jacob. A graduate of Selwyn House, Michael worked at the Montreal Neurological Institute with Dr. Hanna Pappius for several decades, at McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry, and spent the last couple of years doing cutting-edge research on concussions.


Michael was a religious man with deep moral and spiritual convictions. He was loved by many, and he will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and many dental students at McGill for whom he was a father figure and mentor. (Source Selwyn House)

The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro, is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. Founded in 1934, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. The Neuro is a research and teaching institute of McGill University and forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre.  For more information, visit


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