Chief Scientist of Québec
On September 1, 2011, Rémi Quirion, OC, PhD, CQ, FRSC, became Québec’s first chief scientist. As such, he chairs the boards of directors of the three Fonds de recherche du Québec and advises the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology on research and scientific development issues.
Until his appointment as chief scientist, Rémi Quirion was the vice-dean for science and strategic initiatives in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and senior university advisor on health sciences research. He was the scientific director of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute Research Centre, a full professor in the department of psychiatry at McGill University and the executive director of the International Collaborative Research Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Professor Quirion was the first scientific director of the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA), one of Canada’s 13 health research institutes.
His work helped to elucidate the roles of the cholinergic system in Alzheimer’s disease, of neuropeptide Y in depression and memory and of the calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) in pain and opiate tolerance. Rémi Quirion earned his PhD in pharmacology from Université de Sherbrooke in 1980 and carried out his postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States in 1983. He has over 650 publications in prominent scientific journals and is one of the most extensively cited neuroscientists in the world. He has received several awards and honours, including the Ordre national du Québec (Chevalier du Québec, CQ) in 2003, the Prix Wilder-Penfield (Prix du Québec) in 2004 and the Order of Canada (OC) in 2007. Mr. Quirion is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada.
Role of the Chief Scientist
It is with great enthusiasm that I begin my mandate as Chief Scientist of Québec. Over the years, sustained investment on the part of the Québec government through its Nature and Technology, Health, and Society and Culture research funds has enabled the creation of a solid base of researchers of international renown.
Québec has many challenges to face if it wishes to continue to stand out on the world stage: it needs to revitalize research and innovation by fostering major cross-sectoral projects and knowledge transfer to businesses, practice settings and public bodies; improve the competitiveness of Québec researchers both within Canada and abroad; and provide increased support to our young scientists.
As Chief Scientist, my mandate is to advise the Minister of Higher Education, Research and Science on matters pertaining to the development of research and science, in order to ensure Québec’s position and influence on Canadian and international levels. I am also Chairman of the Board of Directors of each of the three funds, and coordinate common issues and cross-sectoral research activities. Finally, I am working on integrating the three funds’ administrative services and I collaborate with the Scientific Directors of the three funds in order to ensure that they are operating effectively.
My position as interface between the three research funds enables me to build connections and make adjustments that will take Québec’s research system further in terms of knowledge production and innovation, thus increasing its influence. The fruits of public research should contribute to the living conditions, personal fulfillment and well-being of all Quebecers. I will rise to this stimulating challenge with the collaboration of the entire research community.