Fiera Capital and the MUHC Foundation announce the winners of new awards

MONTREAL, March 21, 2023 — Historically, scientific funding has not always been equitable. Certain groups have been underfunded or overlooked, including researchers from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. Fiera Capital Corporation (“Fiera Capital”) and the McGill University Health Centre Foundation (“MUHC Foundation”), in partnership with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (“RI-MUHC”), have created new awards to help close this gap.

Launched in Fall 2022, the Fiera Capital Awards for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care Research (“the Fiera Capital Awards”) provide critical funding to MSc and PhD students who have great potential to advance medical research based on the excellence of their academic record, and who belong to a racialized group. Fiera Capital has committed $120,000 over three years to fund these important awards.

“What these young scientists are doing through their research – pushing the boundaries of health care – is both impressive and critical to foster an equitable health care system and healthier communities. Our unique perspectives fuel our ability to innovate, and we are proud to support the next generation of innovators through the Fiera Capital Awards. We look forward to seeing our partnership with the MUHC Foundation and the RI-MUHC unfold in the next years.”

—Lyne Lamothe, Global Chief Human Resources Officer, Fiera Capital

“The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre is committed to inclusivity and welcomes researchers from all backgrounds. We believe that diversity strengthens creativity, enriches scientific discovery and contributes to world-class research. We are grateful to Fiera Capital for recognizing the need to support our EDI mission, and so pleased to see the first five award recipients being honoured for their research excellence.”

—Dr. Rhian Touyz, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer, RI-MUHC

The inaugural Fiera Capital Awards recipients are:

Shawniya Alageswaran, a PhD student in the Brain Repair and Integrative Neuroscience Program who studies synaptic plasticity in the cerebellum—that is, the way the brain can change and adapt to new information.

Sayed Azher, a PhD student in experimental surgery who is finding ways to integrate technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality simulations into medical education.

Yasmine Benslimane, a MSc student in the Cancer Research Program studying how biological sex can affect cancer growth and treatment response.

Annabel Wing-Yan Fan, a PhD student in neuroscience who studies how visual information processing changes with age.

Misghana Kassa, a MSc student in experimental medicine who is testing the efficacy of antimicrobial coatings that could safeguard replacement joints (i.e., hips, knees) against infection.

“The Fiera Capital Awards signify a large stride towards inclusiveness and equity in the research space that I'm in. I'm absolutely delighted to not only win the award, but to also know that this award will exist for the next few years for other deserving applicants that are dedicated to advancing medical research.”

—Sayed Azher, a PhD student in experimental surgery & 2022 Fiera Capital Award recipient

The five awardees were chosen by an interdisciplinary evaluation committee that focused on the candidates’ academic quality, on their self-reflexivity on the systemic barriers they have faced to do research, and on their potential to impact other members of racialized groups.

Early-career funding is essential to a researcher’s future success. If scientists from Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities don’t receive grants early on, it can affect the trajectories of their entire careers. The new awards hope to help address this shortfall. All five recipients, who are training at the RI-MUHC, also benefit from the supervision of expert medical researchers.

“The MUHC Foundation is thrilled to partner with Fiera Capital to uplift diverse voices and advance the careers of these brilliant young scientists. I look forward to watching each of our young award winners’ careers grow and flourish.”

—Julie Quenneville, President and CEO, MUHC Foundation

MUHC Foundation President and CEO Julie Quenneville taking on new challenges