At the age of 10, Laurent Tessier received a liver transplant. Receiving chronic immunosuppressive treatment to prevent rejection, Laurent and his family are warned about owning pets. His mother, Hélène Tessier, a veterinarian, aware of the deep attachment and support that their Sushi dog brings to Laurent, wants to evaluate the real infectious risks/benefits of keeping Sushi. Noticing the lack of available information, Hélène contacts the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Montreal to start a project to address this major gap... the Projet Laurent is born!
Laurent Tessier is the muse and inspiration behind the Projet Laurent. He is a boy with an overflowing energy who loves sports and especially extreme sports! He enjoys downhill skiing, sailing and surfing. At the age of 10 Laurent was diagnosed with liver cancer. He underwent long and very aggressive chemotherapy followed by a liver transplant. For him, his cat Mini-Zoro and Sushi, his Border Collie dog are very important family members. Laurent is involved in fundraising campaigns for research (Fondation Ste-Justine and Charles Bruneau) and recently in a project that is very close to his heart: Projet Laurent!
Hélène Tessier, DVM graduated from the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire (FMV) of Université Montréal in 1995. She has been practicing in the field of pets since graduating from the faculty. Three years later, she became co-owner of a veterinary clinic that she kept for almost 20 years, until her youngest son's illness. Diagnosed with liver cancer, followed by a transplant, Dr. Tessier remained at her son's bedside for a few years. When life returned to normal, she started a veterinarian mobile service. This will give her greater flexibility in her schedule, while continuing to practice veterinary medicine, which she missed during this period of downtime.
Sylvain Bédard first heard the word transplantation in 1980, when he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that had just taken his 18-year-old sister away. Sylvain struggled for 20 years before finally receiving the gift of life. Committed to the transplant community (CEPPP), he is a patient-partner of the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP), Sylvain shares his life with Charlie, his dog who has been providing him with motivation and comfort for many years.
Michel Carrier, DVM, IPSAV, MSc graduated from the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire (FMV) of the Université de Montréal in 1982. Dr. Carrier is now a Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at the FMV where he has been teaching veterinary ophthalmology since 1989. Involved dynamically in the administrative side of his faculty, he was head of the pet hospital for 10 years, vice-dean of clinical affairs for 4 years and, most recently, dean of the faculty for 8 years. Convinced for a long time of the positive contribution of the human-animal bond, it only took a call from his colleague Hélène Tessier for the idea of the Projet Laurent to be born!
Mélanie Dieudé, PhD is an immunologist, associate Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Université de Montréal, researcher at the Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), and the Executive Director of the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP). Dr. Dieudé's research aims at revealing the impact of 1) immunosuppression and 2) tissue injury derived autoimmune responses of importance in Solid Organ Transplant rejection, Graft vs Host Disease and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
Christopher Fernandez-Prada, DVM, MSc, PhD is a molecular parasitology researcher devoted to tackling zoonotic parasites. Dr. Fernandez-Prada holds an assistant professor position at Université de Montréal - Veterinary College. He is adjunct professor at McGill University, and Director of the Parasitology Diagnostic Lab of University of Montreal. His research is focused in the discovery of drug-resistance mechanisms, and the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines.
Michel Pépin, DVM is a veterinarian, president of the Fédération des associations francophones de vétérinaires pour animaux de compagnie (www.fafvac.org) and communications officer for the Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec en pratique des petits animaux (www.amvq.quebec). He is also editor of Le Rapporteur magazine.
Isabelle Doré, PhD is a professor at the School of Kinesiology and Human Kinetics in the Faculty of Medicine of the Université de Montréal and a researcher at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM). Her research focuses on physical activity as a strategy to promote mental health and reduce the risk of anxiety and depressive disorders and aims to understand the mechanisms that may explain the benefits of physical activity on these mental health indicators.
Stéphanie Larivière has a background in Biotechnology from Cégep de St-Hyacinthe. She is a basic research coordinator in transplantation at the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) as well as data manager and social media specialist for the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP). Always accompanied by her cat, Stéphanie is in charge of the coordination of the COVID-19 sub-study of the Projet Laurent.
Aïda Minguez BSc, MSc, PhD is a scientific graphic designer. After a BSc in Environmental Sciences, an MSc in Geological Risks, and a PhD in Geomorphology through GIS and Remote Sensing, She reoriented her career towards science outreach, scientific graphic design and research support. She is very much enjoying working at the Université de Montréal veterinary faculty, learning about parasites, molecular biology and cows. "When I'm not drawing bedbugs or making websites, I love to read and to knit — but no, I'm not that old!"
Marie-Chantal Fortin, MD, PhD, F.R.C.P. is a nephrologist on the kidney transplant team at the Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, a researcher at the Centre de recherche du CHUM (CRCHUM) and a clinical associate professor at the Université de Montréal. She completed her PhD training in bioethics at the Université de Montréal during which she became interested in the representations of French and Quebec transplanters around the issue of living donation. She is also lead of the CDTRP Patient, Family and Donor Researcher Partnership Platform.
Francis Lévesque, PhD is an anthropologist, associate professor at the School of Native Studies of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), a regular member of the Centre interuniversitaire d'études et de recherches autochtones (CIERA) and director of the Native Studies module at UQAT. His research focuses on the relationship between humans and animals in the Canadian Arctic, more specifically on the relationship between dogs and Inuit. He is interested in the benefits and risks associated with having dogs, as well as Inuit knowledge and changes in human-dog relationships following sedentarization.
Special mention to the students who contributed to the content of the Zoonoses and Immunodeficiencies sections: Mira Hajjar (UdeM), Victoria Wagner (UdeM), Alexis Gendron (UdeM), Sandrine Juillard (UdeM) and Alexandre Brodeur (UdeS and UdeM).
* The website was created by Aïda Minguez-Menendez, scientific graphic designer and illustrator.