Experts: COVID-19


Published: 20May2020

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said on May 26 that epidemic growth "continues to slow" nationally, but outbreaks are still an issue, especially in long-term care, shelters and workplaces.The Canadian Armed Forces released two reports about conditions at five long-term care homes in Ontario and 25 long-term care homes in Quebec where they were deployed to help during the pandemic. At his briefing on the following day, Quebec Premier François Legault said he was not surprised by the findings, and the province will work to recruit 10,000 new workers for long-term care homes by fall. (CBC News)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Featured expert - Seniors

The crisis unfolding in long-term care homes across Quebec has exposed an ugly truth: our care system relies too heavily on the unpaid and unrecognized work of family caregivers — many of whom are seniors themselves.”
Shari Brotman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work


Addictions | Developing vaccines and treatmentsFood safetyImmune system | Infectious diseases and virusesMental health | Physical activity and sports | Pregnancy | Safety | Telemedicine and eHealth


Jeffrey Derevensky, James McGill Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Director, International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviours

"During this period of quarantine when kids and teenagers are left with a lot of unstructured time on their hands, it's especially challenging to keep them away from internet games. And especially important to do so, moderation is the key."

Jeffrey Derevensky is a James McGill Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, as well as the Director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-risk Behaviours and Co-Director of the Institute for Human Development and Well-Being. He is an international expert in the area of behavioural addictions and was on the World Health Organization's committee which helped identify Internet Gaming Disorder as a recognizable disorder.

jeffrey.derevensky [at] (English)

Rachel Rabin, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“During these uncertain times, some people may use addictive substances to help cope with stress, anxiety and depression. While initially, it may appear that drugs are reducing these feelings, in fact, they can actually exacerbate them, leading people to increase their drug consumption. This can be especially worrisome for individuals who may be at increased risk of developing an addictive disorder or for those in recovery.”

Rachel Rabin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a researcher at the Douglas Research Centre. Her research program focuses on developing a better understanding of the neurocognitive and social cognitive dysfunction in individuals with substance use disorders in both psychiatric (e.g., schizophrenia) and non-psychiatric populations.

rachel.rabin [at] (English)

Developing vaccines and treatments 

Richard Gold, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law

“While most industries are pitching in, there are a few bad actors that could assert their patents to hold up progress until they are paid. The new provisions in C-13 allows the government to continue working and still pay the firms, but without delay. This levels the playing field for all since the vast majority of firms who are engaging and freely sharing ideas and inventions will know that a bad actor will not take advantage.”

Richard Gold is a James McGill Professor and was the founding Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy. He teaches in the area of intellectual property, international intellectual property, comparative intellectual property, innovation policy and intellectual property management. His research generally focuses on the life sciences.

Robert Platt, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics

“We are overwhelmed with data regarding COVID-19. Every day brings new studies of potential treatments, and of the risks and benefits of medications that many of us are taking. It is critical to distill the information coming from this research, and sort the signal from the noise.”

Robert Platt is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Pediatrics. He holds the first Albert Boehringer Chair in Pharmacoepidemiology . His research focuses on improving methods for the study of medications using administrative data, with an emphasis on methods for causal inference and a substantive focus on medications in pregnancy.

robert.platt [at] (English, French)

Derek Ruths, Associate Professor, School of Computer Science

“Social and medical data is a critical ally in navigating, mitigating, and solving the COVID-19 crisis. Making data useful, however, is a challenge. Privacy (what data should be shared and who should access it), misinformation (how do we ensure people get access to reliable information), accuracy (when is statistical modeling or machine learning the right approach and how far can we trust these models), and many other factors will impact whether data helps or hinders the local and global response.”

Derek Ruths is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science, where he heads the Network Dynamics Laboratory. He is also the Director of the Centre for Social and Cultural Data Science. His research interests include the use of data to measure and predict human behaviour on a large scale.

derek.ruths [at] (English)

Food safety

Daiva Nielsen, Assistant Professor, School of Human Nutrition

Little information is currently available to help us understand how Quebecers organized themselves around getting food during the strict closures and how this experience might have been similar or different in various regions, while being mindful of economic factors that play a role in shaping challenges. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to be a societal issue for some time to come, this data will be valuable to inform food access strategies to help us prepare in the event of future outbreaks.”

Daiva Nielsen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Nutrition. She is currently leading a study to compare household food procurement experiences across different regions in Quebec, including those more affected by COVID-19.

daiva.nielsen [at] (English)

Jennifer Ronholm, Assistant Professor, Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry

“Reusable cups or containers could present a risk to restaurant workers if they are being used by someone who has the virus prior to being handed to front line workers. However, to put the risk in perspective, anyone cleaning the tables at the same restaurant would be potentially be exposed at the same or higher rate (via dirty plates and cutlery) if people infected with the virus ate there.”

Jennifer Ronholm is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Animal Science and Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry. Her research interests include using the latest next-generation sequencing techniques to study how the microbiome of food-producing animals affects food quality, as well as how the microbiome of the food we eat affects human health.

jennifer.ronholm [at] (English)

Immune system

Chen Liang, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

"COVID-19 is now characterized as a pandemic by the WHO, with more than 118,000 cases across 114 countries. Only through concerted and aggressive efforts from the government, healthcare professionals, academia, industry, and public communities, can we halt this pandemic.”

Cheng Liang is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. He is well recognized for his earlier work on HIV-1 genomic RNA packaging and particle assembly.

chen.liang [at] (English)

Infectious diseases and viruses

Anne Gatignol, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

“The 2019 nCoV is spreading from human-to-human at a faster pace than the SARS CoV. Though it is less pathogenic, the incubation period remains uncertain (two to fourteen days). While the region of Wuhan is under lockdown to block the transmission, many countries insist on bringing their citizens back. Measures to avoid a worldwide pandemic include close monitoring and limiting the number of contacts for returning people during a short period.”

Anne Gatignol is Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and an associate member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. She teaches virology and viral pathogenesis, including emerging viruses. Her research is mainly on virus-cell interactions applied to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the Zika virus.

Matthew Oughton, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

“There is an emerging coronavirus that appears to have the possibility for human-to-human transmission. Its ability to infect people and the consequences when it does are not yet clearly understood. However, we can learn a lot from other similar epidemics including SARS and MERS to guide our response to 2019-nCoV and prevent a secondary epidemic of fear.”

Matthew Oughton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and a specialist in infectious diseases and medical microbiology. He is based at the Jewish General Hospital, where he supervises the bacteriology and molecular microbiology laboratories. His research interests are focused on the use of molecular techniques to improve clinical diagnostic assays, with relevant publications on C. difficile, MRSA, influenza, and other pathogens.

matthew.oughton [at] (English)

Raymond Tellier, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

"The current episode, involving a virus jumping from another animal species to humans, similar to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), is a classic episode of an ‘emerging virus’. We should note that since SARS, there have been other instances involving coronaviruses, such as the MERS in the Middle East, SADS (a disease affecting swine) in China and now the Wuhan coronavirus.”

Raymond Tellier recently joined the Infectious Diseases team at the McGill University Health Centre and was previously an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary. He was part of the research team who first identified the SARS associated coronavirus in Toronto following the outbreak in 2003, in collaboration with several groups in Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver.

raymond.tellier [at] (English, French)

Donald Vinh, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

"Coronaviruses are a huge family of diverse viruses that can infect humans and animals. The longstanding history of these viruses show that they primarily cause mild respiratory or GI illness, but occasionally, a more severe strain emerges to cause serious illness in humans. The new virus, SARS-CoV-2 that emerged out of China, was not surprising. And, like any new pathogen, infection spreads fastest following the path of least resistance. That's why it spread across the globe so quickly. And now, we see that it is particularly problematic in long term care facilities. The COVID-19 virus has elicited both ‘doom & gloom’ responses and 'lackadaisical' responses from the public, both of which hamper our efforts to contain the outbreak.”

Donald Vinh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and is an associate member in the Departments of Human Genetics and Experimental Medicine. His research focuses on identifying genetic defects of the immune system that explain why certain individuals are prone to infections.

donald.vinh [at] (English, French)

Mental health 

Patricia Dobkin, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Physician resilience can be an antidote to burnout and distress. It can be fostered through both ‘bottom up’ measures, such as physicians finding meaning in their work and being able to embody mindfulness, and ‘top down’ approaches, such as directors showing appreciation and providing support (e.g. PPE) for physicians. COVID-19 is challenging due to its uncertainty, unpredictability and various unknowns (e.g. treatment, vaccine – if/when will be available). Working together, taking care of ourselves, and maintaining realistic hope will help us all get through these turbulent times.

Patricia Dobkin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine of Medicine. She is affiliated with the McGill Programs in Whole Person Care, where he leads and studies two psychosocial programs, Mindfulness-Based Medical Practice and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Her research focuses on physician well-being and improving patient care.

patricia.dobkin [at] (English, French)

Jason Harley, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery

“Regulating our emotions in the current climate is critical because anxiety can take away cognitive resources we need to help build our health literacy concerning COVID-19. In these disruptive times, this is especially challenging as there are many sources that anxiety can stem from: concern for those at greatest risk of COVID-19, the behaviors and expressions of others (emotional contagion), uncertainty about work and how disruptions might impact the future, as well as cues from ourselves (e.g., a racing heart) that can contribute to vicious cycles of fear, if left unchecked. Recognizing the source(s) of our anxiety can help us to adopt the most effective strategies for coping with them, and in turn, help us identify and engage in responsible and healthy behaviours during this epidemic.”

Jason Harley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, an associate member of the Institute for Health Sciences Education and a Junior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). They are currently conducting research to investigate coping strategies health care workers are using to deal with stress during the pandemic, assess their effectiveness and use that information to recommend new measures to protect the mental health of health care professionals. In collaboration with the SAILS Lab, they are also a developing and testing public education tools to enhance COVID-19 health and media literacy with a special focus on the role of emotion regulation in promoting public understanding and adaptive health behaviors.

jason.harley [at] (English, French)

Ross Otto, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

"Decades of research suggest that our choices and other behaviours are often based on distorted estimates of risk we hold in our minds-- for example, playing the lottery with infinitesimal chances of winning, or avoiding traveling to certain regions out of fear of a terrorism incident. Our personal risk calculus is heavily influenced by the information environments we live in, and the Coronavirus pandemic is no exception. In this case, the continual bombardment of emotionally charged news media reports and social media posts doubtlessly works to increase our own perception of personal mortal danger. But it’s far from clear whether, as individual decision-makers, we are over- or under-reacting to this crisis—and perhaps more importantly, could our inflated perceptions of mortal risk help fuel critical public safety behaviours such as social distancing?"

Ross Otto is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. He studies decision-making, and more particularly, why we sometimes rely on slow, deliberative, and effortful choices, while at other times we rely on fast, habitual, and reflexive choice.

ross.otto [at] (English)

Brett Thombs, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“It is not known to what degree the current situation may affect mental health, but there are important reasons to be concerned, including the fear that people are experiencing, as well as the toll of isolation. Thus, it is a good time to focus on positive mental health, and there are good recommendations out there that provide a helpful roadmap for doing this.”

Brett Thombs is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an associate member of the Departments of Educational and Counselling Psychology; Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, Medicine, Psychology; and the Biomedical Ethics Unit. He is conducting (1) a large-scale, worldwide study on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts like social distancing, particularly on people already suffering from chronic medical conditions and (2) a trial of an intervention designed to reduce negative mental health effects. 

brett.thombs [at] (English)

Samuel Veissière, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Co-director, Culture, Mind and Brain Program

“The Coronavirus is quite simply a moral panic; the virus is infecting our minds more than it is infecting our bodies. While the risk of infection from what is a new strain of flu is moderate to high, the risk of mortality or serious health issues for healthy people is extremely low. The relevant factors to understand this panic are 1) the human mind’s obsession with threats and dangers, 2) the hyper-connectivity of Internet news that exploit our mental vulnerabilities, 3) the times of great uncertainty (politics gone mad; climate change, etc.) in which news of the virus is spreading, and 4) the role of pathogens in the evolution of our irrational fears.”

Samuel Veissière is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, the Co-director of the Culture, Mind, and Brain program and an associate member of the Department of Anthropology. An interdisciplinary anthropologist and cognitive scientist, he studies social dimensions of cognition, consciousness, and human well-being through a variety of projects including placebo effects and hypnosis, hyper-sociality in smartphone addiction, social polarization, gender and mental health, and the theoretical study of cultural evolution.

samuel.veissiere [at] (English, French, Portuguese)

Robert Whitley, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

COVID-19 has placed limits on socializing and other activities that can foster positive mental health. As such, individuals may need to engage in innovative activities to reduce stress and promote their own mental health. Importantly, a large corpus of research indicates that outdoor activity and contact with nature can foster positive mental health, and even facilitate recovery from mental illness. Hence, getting outdoors into parks and nature should be considered essential mental health promotion activities in all times, but especially during this COVID-19 crisis.”

Robert Whitley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Principal Investigator of the Social Psychiatry Research and Interest Group (SPRING) at the Douglas Hospital Research Center. His three main research interests are recovery, stigma and men’s mental health and he leads projects funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Movember Foundation.

robert.whitley [at] (English, French)

Physical activity and sports 

Gordon Bloom, Full Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

“My advice for athletes is to try and maintain both a healthy mind and a healthy body. In the former, stay virtually connected with your coaches and teammates by talking about the sport that you love with them, knowing that one day you will be back. In the latter, remember that exercise is medicine and it can still be done in ways that respect social distancing. Continuing to exercise also reminds your body that you will be back playing the sport you love.”

Gordon Bloom is a Full Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. His research focuses on sport psychology, pedagogy, coaching knowledge and behaviours, team building, and psychology of athletic injuries such as concussions.

gordon.bloom [at] (English)

Aaron Fellows, Project Coordinator and Kinesiology Clinic Supervisor, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

"We are all concerned about the current situation and the potential impact of COVID-19, and I wanted to remind everyone that we should still continue to exercise regularly. Unfortunately, during these times of crisis, our physical activity is often one of the first aspects of our lives we tend to ignore. We must try to avoid this. Being more physically active will not only help maintain our current physical and mental health – it can also help us prevent other diseases and conditions."

Aaron Fellows is the Project Coordinator and Kinesiology Clinic Supervisor in the Department of of Kinesiology and Physical Education. With years of experience in the fitness and physical activity industry, he understands the many health benefits that exercise provides, and he feels privileged to be in a position where he can make a difference in people’s lives and help them achieve their short and long-term goals.

aaron.fellows [at] (English, French)

Steven Grover, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Internal Medicine

“During social isolation, engaging Canadians to maintain healthy lifestyle habits is at least as important as avoiding the infection. Given that approximately 2/3 of Canadians are overweight or obese and only 15% meet current physical activity guidelines, the impact of more sedentary behaviour, weight gain, and increased stress will result in a huge jump in cases of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and mental health problems including insomnia, anxiety and depression. How we manage our physical and mental health during social isolation is critical and at least as important as maintaining the isolation itself.”

Steven Grover is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Hi research focuses on the importance of exercise, healthy eating, and other lifestyle interventions to improve health, as well as on digital, e-healthinterventions using web-based platforms.

steven.grover [at] (English, French)

Richard Koestner, Full Professor, Department of Psychology

This is a time where we have to consider adjusting our personal goals. For instance, many people have the common goal of doing exercise three times a week, though now gyms and sport fields are no longer accessible to the public. Due to the current situation, some have instead taken up jogging, outdoor calisthenics or even invented their own parkour circuits. Such creative adaptations not only allow us to get exercise but also leads us to a new activity that can be surprisingly rewarding.”

Richard Koestner is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology and the head of the McGill Human Motivation Lab. For more than 30 years, he has been conducting research on goal-setting, self-regulation and internalization processes.

richard.koestner [at] (English)


Gabrielle Cassir, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

“In the current COVID-19 pandemic, the unique concerns of pregnant women need to be addressed.”

Gabrielle Cassir is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a staff physician at the St. Mary’s Hospital Center. Her sub-specialty focused on high-risk pregnancies, with a particular interest in maternal diseases, more specifically obesity, diabetes, hypertension and hyperparathyroidism.

gabrielle.cassir [at] (English, French)

Suzanne King, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“Both maternal infections and psychosocial stress during pregnancy have been associated with sub-optimal outcomes in the unborn child. Thus, it’s important for pregnant women to (1) follow public health directives to avoid contracting COVID-19 or any other illness, (2) follow all of the good pregnancy health guidelines such as eating well and taking vitamins, and (3) focus on the positive in their current situation, get psychosocial support to limit stress, and take steps to limit changes to their daily routines as much as possible.”

Suzanne King is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, as well as a Principal Investigator at the Douglas Research Centre. Her current work focuses on three prospective longitudinal studies of children who were exposed to maternal stress in utero as the result of a natural disaster: the Quebec ice storm of 1998; Iowa floods of 2008; and Queensland floods in Australia in 2011.

suzanne.king [at] (English, French)

Ashley Wazana, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Both mother’s prenatal mood symptoms as well as worries during pregnancy predict the child’s mental well-being in the long run. There are multiple factors at play, including genetics, sex and gender, and the environment after birth, but when you combine maternal stress with the environmental adversity from the COVID-19 crisis, you have the potential for greater mental health challenges for children who are born into this post-pandemic world. Mental health ought to be a fundamental part of prenatal health. We need to appreciate the importance of mental health needs across the lifespan, starting with pregnancy.”

Ashley Wazana is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a clinician-scientist at the Jewish General Hospital. His research examines how genotypes in the serotonin, dopamine and glucocorticoid pathways and which early maternal experiences interact to modify the trajectory for anxious and depressive psychopathology of children with prenatal adversity.

ashely.wazana [at] (English, French)


Parisa Ariya, James McGill Professor, Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry

We cannot stop all viral transmissions, yet we can better manage them. The recent scientific data show consistently that facial mask diminishes the COVID-19 transmission.”

Parisa Ariya is a James McGill Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry. A world leader in the study of bioaerosol transmission, her research explores major fundamental and applied research questions on chemical and physical processes involving aerosols, as well as gaseous organic and trace metal pollutants of relevance to the Earth's atmosphere and to human health.

parisa.ariya [at] (English, French)

Leighanne Parkes, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

“Different groups, ranging from health care workers to everyday people living in zones affected by COVID-19, require different mitigations strategies. When implementing prevention strategies, multiple facets have to be taken into consideration such as physical space, administrative processes and human behaviors. Our last line of defense is often protective equipment like masks, gloves and ocular protection, but this is the ‘weakest’ line of defense. Each population or group needs a tailored approach, and an approach that specifically involves the members of the group involved; an approach of which they can take ownership.”

Leighanne Parkes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist at the Jewish General Hospital. She is currently collaborating in a McGill-led clinical research initiative to test the efficacy of existing drugs against COVID-19, in the hopes they may improve outcomes as a vaccine is being developed.

leighanne.parkes [at] (English)

Avinash Sinha, Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesia

A review of the evidence suggests a strong recommendation for the use of masks when in public and physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable. Places where the risk is particularly high include public transport, workplaces and enclosed environments that are experiencing increased traffic as we lighten ‘lockdown’ restrictions. We should continue to emphasize the attitude that ‘I protect you, you protect me, together we protect society’ embodied in personal practices that include hand washing and good hygiene, staying at home when possible, isolating when ill, general awareness of contact precautions, especially around vulnerable people or groups, and the practice of physical distancing and physical barriers such as masks.

Avinash Sinha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesia and an anesthesiologist at the McGill University Health Centre. He is part of a team of Montreal medical experts that partnered with AON3D, a Montreal-based 3D printing company, to design and distribute face shields to protect healthcare workers working COVID-19-infected patients.

avinash.sinha [at] (English, French)

Michael Wiseman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Dentistry

There is a great deal of concern surrounding the re-opening of dental clinics without first ensuring the availability and adequate supply of protective equipment (PPE) for dentists and their staff, and without giving dentists the resources, time, and financial assistance to purchase the necessary equipment (e.g. air scrubbers) and make the necessary physical changes (e.g. closing operatories) to their offices. Infectious diseases experts in Montreal have concured that the aerosols produced during many dental treatments can present a threat to the heath of the dental team, to patients and the public at large. The Ordre des Dentistes, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the CNESST require that we wear N95 masks during such aerosol producing procedures, however very few dentists are able to procure these masks due to shortages. The fact of the matter is that we are not considered to be front-line workers, even though we have been listed as being at a higher risk to contract COVID- 19 (according to the New York Times).”

Michael Wiseman is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry and a dentist in Côte St-Luc. In 2015, he was involved as the Montreal representative in the launch of the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program, a pilot initiative to provide free oral health care to Holocaust survivors.

michael.wiseman [at] (English)

Telemedicine and eHealth 

Antonia Arnaert, Associate Professor, Ingram School of Nursing

“In response to COVID-19, clinicians and healthcare systems worldwide have had to embrace remote and virtual health care. Once the pandemic subsides, hopefully these measures will still be considered to make health and social services more accessible.”

Antonia Arnaert is an Associate Professor and the Master’s Program Director (Direct-Entry & Nurse Entry) at the Ingram School of Nursing. Her research is focused on the implementation and integration of sustainable digital health solutions (including health information technology, mobile health, personalized medicine, telemedicine and wearable health devices) to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and provide personalized care to various patient populations.

antonia.arnaert [at] (English)

Fouad Farès, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies

In the near future, the main budget of governments will revolve around medical research and health services to fill the gaps identified during the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be a significant transformation in the processes to update them and prevent the experienced harms. Several services and technologies that have been in existence for several years may play a revolutionary role, particularly in increasing the accuracy of analytical algorithm results and artificial intelligence.”

Fouad Farès is a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies, where he teaches in the Big Science program. His expertise is in analytics, big data and data development.

fouad.fares [at] (English, French)

Ma'n H. Zawati, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Genetics and Executive Director, Centre of Genomics and Policy

“Mobile health technology has been used internationally to prevent further spread, monitor cases, provide general information and as a notification tool. The same goes for telemedicine and access to physicians from a distance. These initiatives are to be lauded, but important consent, privacy and access safeguards need to be put in place so that these applications are used safely and responsibly.”

Ma’n H. Zawati is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Executive Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy. His research concentrates on the legal, ethical and policy dimensions of health research and clinical care, with a special focus on biobanking, data sharing, professional liability, and the use of novel technologies (e.g. mobile health apps, WGS, WES) in both the clinical and research settings.

man.zawati [at] (English, French)


ChildrenCities | Crime and civil liberties | EducationFamilies and parenting | Gender | Indigenous peoplesMedia and misinformation | SeniorsSustainability and climate change


Delphine Collin-Vézina, Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Director, Centre for Research on Children and Families

“During the COVID-19 crisis, schools should continue their mission to support children and their families at psychological and social levels, beyond minimum school measures.”

A licensed clinical psychologist, Delphine Collin-Vézina is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, as well as the Tier II Canada Research Chair in Child Welfare, the Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families and the Nicolas Steinmetz and Gilles Julien Chair in Social Pediatrics. Her research interests include clinical topics related to child maltreatment, child sexual abuse, and trauma.

delphine.collin-vezina [at] (English, French)

Reut Gruber, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to encourage children to establish and follow good sleep habits so they get healthy sleep. Healthy sleep improves the memory and attention of children, so they are better able to learn even during stressful times. Well rested children are less irritable and impulsive, so they are better able to self-regulate and have improved mood even though stress levels are high and even parents are stressed. Well rested children have stronger immune systems, so they are better able to stay healthy during the pandemic. For optimal health, youth should get healthy sleep each night and be physically active every day.”

Reut Gruber is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Director of the Attention, Behaviour and Sleep Laboratory at the Douglas Research Centre. Her research focuses on three themes as they relate to pediatric sleep: ADHD, academic performance, and mental health.

reut.gruber [at] (English)

Joanna Merckx, Affiliated Member, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

"Epidemiologic research on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic requires diagnostic technologies and the capacity to interpret results of clinical and population tests for active infection, disease and for history of exposure. Infection and disease affect different populations differently, and age is one of the most important dimensions that impacts all aspects of epidemic spread and health consequences. The particular case of children is an especially understudied clinical and public health problem that as a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases I have a special commitment to research and understand.”

Joanna Merckx is an Affiliated Member in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and the Director of Medical Affairs at bioMérieux Canada, Inc., where she studies the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Her work focuses on clinical infectiology and epidemiology of infectious diseases with an emphasis on diagnostics, pediatrics and perinatology.

joanna-trees.merckx [at] (Dutch, English, French, Spanish)

Marie-Hélène Pennestri, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology

“It is important to get enough sleep during this period of stress. Sleep is a protective factor for both physical and mental health, in children and in adults. Sleeping enough will contribute to keep individuals healthy, among all the other recommendations. Moreover, family members now spend a lot of time together… sleeping enough will improve their mood and contribute to better family relationships!”

Marie-Hélène Pennestri is an Assitant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, She investigates the development of the sleep-wake cycle in healthy infants and preschoolers. Her research program also focuses on more vulnerable populations (such as social pediatric, foster children and premature birth).

marie-helene.pennestri [at] (English, French)

Cécile Rousseau, Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry

Although there are some risks associated with the re-opening of daycares and schools, there are also important benefits in terms of child protection and child development. The deleterious effects of confinement on children are just emerging and some are very serious (from anxiety disorders and cyber-dependence to inter-personal violence). Decision to send the children back to school should be individualized and based on a risk-benefit analysis. The decision is a process, which needs to take into account, among other things, the voice of the child and the parents’ levels of comfort with the decision. Some parents will benefit from support to help them take a decision.”

Cécile Rousseau is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and a clinical psychiatrist at the Montreal Children's Hospital, where she directs the Transcultural Child Psychiatry Clinic. She works with refugee and immigrant children, developing a model of culturally sensitive shared care for primary health care institutions.

cecile.rousseau [at] (English, French Spanish)

Shaheen Shariff, James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

“Sending children back to school in Quebec is a double-edged sword with risk on both sides. For children in precarious situations, it could mean freedom, release and relief from family and/or sexual violence as parents head back to work, and children gain access to supports at school. But parents risk exposing their children, themselves and older relatives to COVID-19 if kids bring it home from school. School administrators, teachers and counsellors will need to recognize signs of deterioration of physical and emotional health. Hence, it is essential to put resources into developing policies, protocols and strategies to connect with, and assess children’s health and well-being during this crisis – whether they remain home, or return to school. As a society, we need to ensure that the fundamental health, well-being, human and constitutional rights of children are not impaired during this pandemic but protected and nurtured."

Shaheen Shariff is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and an associate member of the Faculty of Law. Her work is centred on the intersection of education, law and policy, with a focus on constitutional, human rights and civil law as it impacts educational institutions. She is best known for her work on cyberbullying, and sexual violence as symptoms of deeply ingrained systemic discrimination and societal power imbalances (intersecting forms of sexism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and xenophobia).

shaheen.shariff [at] (English)

Keiko Shikako-Thomas, Assistant Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

“Children with disabilities and their families are a vulnerable group that is even more marginalized during a crisis. Extra financial and social support resources must be put in place to support families of children with disabilities and complex health care needs. Families are now restricted to their home environment, having to handle on their own the care that normally comes from different systems such as health and rehabilitation, specialized education, respite AND extended family. An added fear is that many of these children have complex health care needs and may be found without the life-saving procedures they need due to the pressures on the healthcare system during the pandemic.”

Keiko Shikako-Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Disability: Participation and Knowledge Translation. Her research focuses on the promotion of healthy living and the human rights of children with disabilities. She is also interested in knowledge translation science and practice, and uses a participatory approach to engage different stakeholders, including policymakers and children and their families, in finding solutions to change the environment, inform policymaking and promote the participation of children with disabilities in different life roles and activities.

keiko.thomas [at] (English, French)


Ahmed El-Geineidy, Full Professor, School of Urban Planning

Public transport is an essential service. We need to keep it moving and we must make certain it survives the COVID-19 pandemic. To do so, we will need to rethink the way we deliver all transport services in cities. Maintaining space for physical distancing on buses or subways could mean reducing passenger capacity by as much as 70%. At least in the short-term, ridership or fare-box recovery rates can no longer be the measure of success for this essential public service. The measure of public transport’s success is going to be its ability to ensure that essential workers can reach their jobs and that people without other options can still reach essential services. This is a new reality that policy makers need to understand. At the same time, we need to work on providing alternatives to reduce the pressure on the public transport system by creating safer and more enticing cycling and walking options than we currently have in our cities.

Ahmed El-Geneidy is a Full Professor at the School of Urban Planning. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain (ARTM). His areas of expertise include transport planning and operations, transport economics, measurements of accessibility and intelligent transportation systems.

ahmed-elgeneidy [at] (English)

Kevin Manaugh, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and School of Environment

“The spread and response to COVID-19 reveals disparities in the capacity of the built and social environment to allow for residents of various neighborhoods to shelter in place. The requirements to practice 'physical distancing' highlights limitations of the built form of our cities to allow people to walk and cycle safely. In the short and long term, this will hopefully lead to rethinking about the allocation of street space to allow for increased use of these active modes of transport.”

Kevin Manaugh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Geography and the School of Environment, as well as an associate member of the School of Urban Planning. He conducts research on how yrban regions are faced with a multitude of challenges, how decision-makers balance, prioritize and trade-off various—often-conflicting—environmental, economic, and social equity goals.

kevin.manaugh [at] (English, French)

Will Straw, James McGill Professor, Department of Art History and Communication Studies

This is a perfect time for cities to continue ‘rethinking’ their nightlife, which many of them have been doing over the last couple of years, including the current Montreal government. The questions of closing hours, noise toleration, gentrification, outdoor drinking, festival locations, and so on were already being debated before COVID-19. The crisis gives us a context to reimagine what the night of our cities might be.

Will Straw is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies, where he focuses on urban media studies. His research explores the ways that the nighttime culture of cities is governed, promoted, and represented.

william.straw [at] (English, French)

Crime and civil liberties

Alessandro Drago, PhD candidate, Department of Sociology

"There has been an increase in reported hate crimes targeting Asian Canadians across Canada due to fears surrounding COVID-19 ranging from vandalism, verbal abuse, and physical violence. Crimes have also targeted the Inuit population in Montreal in cases of mistaken identity. Asian Canadians have been unfairly and erroneously scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19. Far-right groups use uncertain times such as these to promote and propagate their hatred and bigotry, using Asian Canadians as stand-ins for their displeasure with Canada’s migratory policies and globalization more generally. Individuals should remain vigilante and report any hate crimes targeting Asian Canadians and other marginalized groups. Racist behaviour and rhetoric seen online or heard during interpersonal conversations should also be called out."

Alessandro Drago is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. His research interests include political sociology, race and ethnicity, right-wing and social movements.

alessandro.drago [at] (English)

Pearl Eliadis, Affiliate Member, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have entered a new territory. There has not been an emergency on this scale since the Charter was entrenched in 1982. The courts will likely show considerable deference to the government to protect the public interest. But the emergency measures infringe several fundamental freedoms and legal rights, and also limit citizens’ ability to sue for Charter violations after the fact. There have been reports of overreach by police and lack of clarity on what the rules are. Civil liberties and states of emergency do not co-exist easily. Even during a pandemic, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is still in full force and effect, as is Quebec’s charter. It is vital that government emergency measures be necessary, proportionate and based on precaution and that citizens be vigilant in protecting their rights and freedoms.”

Pearl Eliadis is an Affiliate Member at the Max Bell School of Public Policy, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law. A senior lawyer in private practice and with more than two decades of public policy experience in federal and provincial governments, she has led successfully complex, global projects dealing with national institutions, evaluation, and human rights, with in-country missions to China, Ethiopia, Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan and Timor Leste.

pearl.eliadis [at] (English, French)

Marie Manikis, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law

“COVID-19 should be a relevant factor that is taken into consideration by decision-makers across the various stages of the criminal process, including decisions about policing, prosecutions, bail/remand, sentencing, and prison administration.”

Marie Manikis is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and has been a William Dawson Scholar since 2019. Her scholarship is interdisciplinary, comparative and uses social science methodologies to advance the available knowledge in criminal law and criminal justice.

marie.manikis [at] (English, French)


Mindy Carter, Associate Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a curious moment in which human beings have an opportunity to re-orient their relational co-existence with human and non-human life (i.e. water, trees, animals, technology). This time of social distancing and isolation can be a moment to think, feel, perceive and ultimately live in new, hopeful way(s) that consider collective ethical, social, political, economic and embodied limitations. Now is a time to dream about profound transformations of systems, in which critical creative becoming(s) are possible, so that a turn towards a new era can emerge."

Mindy Carter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her expertise pertains to the importance of holistic learning for elementary aged children and how the arts & creativity can help children socio-emotionally connect and share their feelings and foster resiliency.

mindy.carter [at] (English)

Adam Dubé, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology

“Prior to the pandemic, parents were unsure how to facilitate their children's education at home using technology; there is little guidance on which digital tools are best and learning online is rife with misinformation. In our new reality, parents need guidance on how to identify effective digital learning tools and strategies for their stay-at-home children.”

Adam Dubé is an Assistant Professor in the Learning Sciences Program of the Educational and Counselling Psychology Department, as well as the head of the Technology, Learning, & Cognition Lab and a joint Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the Society of Research in Child Development in middle childhood education and development. He investigates how educational technology augments the learning process and teaches courses on the use of emerging educational technologies.

adam.dube [at] (English)

Lisa Starr, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education and Director, Internships and Student Affairs, Faculty of Education

“Schools, students and society are experiencing history in the making. More than ever we need creative thinking, adaptability and empathy to navigate uncertain times. These are skills we expect of students but must model as teachers as well.”

Lisa Starr is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and the director of Internships and Student Affairs for the Faculty of Education. She sees her role as being to provide experiences that will not simply show students how to teach but to create a transformative environment so that our future teachers enter into schools and classrooms confident, prepared and ready to inspire.

lisa.starr2 [at] (English)

Families and parenting

Nancy Heath, James McGill Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Associate Dean, Research and Innovation, Faculty of Education

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created a “new normal” of parenting while working from home. Yes, we are having moments of intense closeness with our children, but frequently we feel stressed, worried and frustrated. And there remains a tremendous social stigma against admitting that one is genuinely struggling as a parent — even in these ‘unprecedented times’. So, how can parents best maintain their own emotional well-being and that of their children? Self-care and self-compassion are central, as is acknowledging that we are doing the best we can. However, just as important is breaking the silence. Social media sharing of genuine parenting challenges in this very stressful time is particularly needed. Parents and children will do better in this crisis if parents are more honest with each other so we can truly support each other — even if it is done remotely!"

Nancy Heath is a James McGill Professor and the Interim Chair of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, as well as the Associate Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Education. Her research program explores resilience and adaptive functioning in young people at-risk (children, adolescents, and young adults).

nancy.heath [at] (English)

Rachel Langevin, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology

The current situation where families are confined in their home with few opportunities or contacts with their friends and extended family could have detrimental implications for families affected by violence and maltreatment. Several risk factors for violence perpetration and victimization are increased in the current context and it is essential to ensure the safety of at-risk children and families.

Rachel Langevin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology. Her main research interests are in child development and understanding risk and protective factors for psychopathology, as well as mechanisms for the intergenerational transfer of trauma and violence.

rachel.langevin [at] (French)

Tina Montreuil, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology

“In many cases, this period of pandemic has lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety in children and teenagers, more importantly due to the social isolation and limited interactions that resulted from confinement. As children, parents and teachers prepare for an imminent return to school, it is more critical then ever to support the social emotional well-being of our young ones, but also of all adults who will play a significant role in ensuring a seamless post COVID-19 school reintegration. Coping skills that include emotion regulation, linking thoughts and feelings as well as acceptance and self-compassion will most likely become the decisive element in safeguarding and well-being. Fostering resilience and recovery, in some cases, can be achieved through preventive efforts. Healthy brains build healthy schools.”

Tina Montreuil is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology and an associate member of the Department of Psychiatry. Her research focuses on investigating the role of emotion regulation, attitudes, and beliefs on the development and intergenerational transmission of psychopathology and how symptoms of mental health problems might interfere with self-regulated learning in a group context and ultimately, educational achievement.

tina.montreuil [at] (English, French)


Claudia Mitchell, James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

It is rather concerning to see how physical isolation is impacting girls and women, especially in situations of domestic tensions and financial worries. During this time, it is even harder for girls and women to speak out against these issues. While we are trying to ‘flatten the curve’ with lockdown measures, we are dealing with a less noticed ‘shadow pandemic’ characterized as the harm inflicted on girls and women, as noted by colleagues working on gender-based violence all over the world.”

Claudia Mitchell is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and the Director of the Institute of Human Development and Well-being. Her research in relation to youth, gender and sexuality, girls’ education, teacher identity, and critical areas of international development linked to gender and HIV and AIDS uses visual and other participatory methodologies.

claudia.mitchell [at] (English)

Indigenous peoples

Kent Saylor, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Director, Indigenous Health Professions Program

Many Indigenous school boards have made the decision to remain closed for the remainder of this academic school year. The reasons for these decisions are varied and depend on the individual nation and sometimes the individual community. Many Indigenous peoples, especially in the North, live in overcrowded living conditions and are therefore at higher risk for COVID-19 infection. There have also been delays in testing in many Indigenous communities so the reported low numbers of infection may be deceiving. The unique nature of each Indigenous community highlights the need for each nation to be able to make their own decisions regarding all aspects of their lives including the educational system.”

A member of the Mohawk Nation, Kent Saylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Director of the Indigenous Health Professions Program in the Faculty of Medicine. For the past 20 years, he has worked as a consultant pediatrician with the Northern and Native Child Health Program of the Montreal Children’s Hospital where he has provided care for numerous Indigenous children throughout Quebec.

kent.saylor [at] (English)

Media and misinformation

Kimiz Dalkir, Associate Professor and Director, School of Information Studies

“Fake news needs to be tackled in a more comprehensive manner. This involves: improving peoples’ awareness of misinformation; national/provincial legislation and company policies that invoke real consequences for deliberately creating/sharing fake news; and the use of better tools, such as AI, which is able to detect with great speed the spread of fake news vs. real news. The single most effective defense we have is to carefully consider the source of all news.”

Kimiz Dalkir is an Associate Professor and the Director of the School of Information Studies. She is an internationally recognized expert in transfer and retention of critical knowledge and has worked in the field of knowledge transfer for the last two decades.

kimiz.dalkir [at] (English, French)

Sandra Hyde, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

“What has changed is that many in our community are overreacting to the virus. It is not only about China’s response anymore, it is our own xenophobia. Ironically, Montreal’s Chinatown is losing customers even though much of Chinatown is run by Vietnamese shop owners. We have an “infodemic” that parallels the actual epidemic that puts many into panic mode unnecessarily. We need to be compassionate and not attack others just because their country of origin may not be Quebec.”

Sandra Hyde is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and is affiliated with the Departments of Social Studies of Medicine, Transcultural Psychiatry and East Asian Studies. Her research and writing bring anthropological methods to bear on critical public health and the cultural politics of epidemics, which are key areas with practical implications for understanding power, inequality, gender, ethnicity and sexuality.

sandra.hyde [at] (English)

Taylor Owen, Associate Professor, Max Bell School of Public Policy and Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications

“Our social interactions, our digital economy, our employment, and our politics are moving online. And we are doing so via commercial platforms designed with a very particular set of incentives. These design decisions and incentives are going to have a profound effect on us all. If ever we were to think about and build public digital infrastructures, now would be the time.”

Taylor Owen is an Associate Professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy and holder of the Beaverbrook Chair in Media, Ethics and Communications. His research focuses on exploring the ethics, civic impact, and governance of emerging technologies.

taylor.owen [at] (English) 

Mehrgol Tiv, PhD Candidate, Department of Psychology

“The language that is being used to talk about the coronavirus evokes metaphors of war and disaster (e.g., “the invisible enemy”). This fear-inducing framing preoccupies the mind with self-preservationist thoughts and out-group competition, which in turn takes away from our ability to think about others’ thoughts and feelings. We might forget that we are all collectively experiencing the same thing and likely have more in common with each other now than ever before. Highlighting this shared identity could help us come together.”

Mehrgol Tiv is a PhD Candidate in experimental psychology in the Department of Psychology. Her interdisciplinary research merges social cognition, language, and intergroup psychology. She studies how bilingual experience affects social language processing and how we understand other peoples’ intentions, despite coming from different groups.

mehrgol.tiv [at] (English, French)

Emmanuelle Vaast, Full Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Social media enable people to share multimedia content in new ways. In these turbulent times, it fosters a greater sense of community, but also heightens polarization and divisions.”

Emmanuelle Vaast is a Full Professor of Information Systems in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Her research examines how social practices emerge and change with the implementation and use of new technologies and how these new practices are associated with organizational and change dynamics. Some of the themes she is especially interested in deal with the emergence of new organizational forms and with new dynamics associated with organizational and occupational identification, as well as the future of work.

emmanuelle.vaast [at] (English, French)


Shari Brotman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

“The crisis unfolding in long-term care homes across Quebec has exposed an ugly truth: our care system relies too heavily on the unpaid and unrecognized work of family caregivers — many of whom are seniors themselves.”

Shari Brotman is Associate Professor at the School of Social Work. She has worked extensively, as an educator, researcher and practitioner in the fields of gerontology and anti-oppression social work practice. Her scholarly activities center on questions of access and equity in the design and delivery of health and social care services to older adults from marginalized communities (minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse) and their caregivers.

shari.brotman [at] (English)

Susan Mintzberg, PhD Candidate, School of Social Work

“The devastation we are now witnessing in long term care homes has shaken our collective conscience. At the moment, it is a crisis that requires immediate solutions, but this is an issue than runs much deeper and has been building for decades. What we are now forced to face is a larger systemic issue that impacts stigmatized populations, such as seniors and those living with mental illness. As a society we have continuously turned a blind eye to these populations and, as a result, medical specialties such as geriatrics and psychiatry have been grossly underfunded and lack the support needed to properly care for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Susan Mintzberg is a PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work. Her research explores the role of families in the mental healthcare system.

susan.mintzberg [at] (English, French)

José Morais, Associate Professor and Director, Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine

“It is well known that the elderly is at a higher risks to suffer from the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. This risk is due to aging effects on the immune system, but also chronic diseases, poor level of physical function, malnutrition and medications. Those who have mobility and cognitive issues do worse because of difficulty coping with hygiene and distancing measures. The physical distancing will have more detrimental effects of older adults with dementia as they don’t understand what is going on and suffer from lack of social contact At this stage of the pandemic, it is time to look at the collateral effects of lack of services and socialization to those who are home bound (a much greater number of elderly than those in CHSLDs).”

José Morais is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine. He is also an associate member of the School of Human Nutrition. His research interest relates to the assessment of protein metabolism and cellular regulation at whole-body and muscle levels and of protein requirements with age, frailty and diabetes using stable isotopes methodology.

jose.morais [at] (English, French, Portuguese, Spanish)

Tamara Sussman, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

“CHSLDs have been under resourced for a long time and it is regrettable that it took this kind of outbreak to raise public awareness regarding this issue. Family members play a key role in supporting care in CHSLDs, so the fact they have been deemed as 'non-essential' is problematic. Additionally, more and more people are dealing with the death of loved ones and may not have adequate advance care planning measures in place to handle such situations. In the context of COVID-19, conversations about death are even more pressing. Not only should we be fighting to reduce mortality we should be advocating for people to have important conversations with their loved ones about their fears, preferences and the realities of end-of-life care in the current situation."

Tamara Sussman is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. Drawing on over ten years of experience working with adults and families managing health related issues in both hospital and community settings, her research focuses on how health services and systems impact older adults and their family members.

tamara.sussman [at] (English)

Mark Yaffe, Full Professor, Department of Family Medicine

“Elder abuse, characterized as an act (or acts) of omission or commission that can lead to an array of negative consequences (physical, psychological, financial, etc.) for an older adult, commonly occurs within a relationship or during an encounter where there is an expectation of trust. The COVID-19 pandemic may accentuate conditions that might put seniors at risk for abuse and this merits attention. Some published literature on elder mistreatment makes a distinction between bad outcomes with a specific caregiver and those that appear associated with systems' or institutional limitations.”

Mark Yaffe is a Full Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a member of the Department of Family Medicine at the St. Mary’s Hospital Center. His work on elder abuse is acknowledged internationally, as he has led an interdisciplinary team that developed and validated WHO-recognized Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI), a simple tool to assist family physicians in detecting elder abuse.

mark.yaffe [at] (English)

Sustainability and climate change 

Elena Bennett, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences and School of Environment

“I am heartened by the speed with which humans have responded to the COVID-19 crisis. I think the tools people have developed to deal with the pandemic may be helpful in confronting climate change and other important environmental issues. The mutual aid efforts that have sprung up to get groceries or make masks for vulnerable people show the potential for community action. The call for people to stay home — and the measurable impact of social distancing efforts when people comply — reveals the importance of official actions and the need for every person to participate. In the months and years to come, when a vaccine is developed and the pandemic is contained, I hope people won’t forget these bright spots - that we will take these good things and hold onto them and figure out how to steer them toward the larger climate conversation. I also know that, while individuals and community groups can make progress, we also clearly need strong and supportive interventions from civil society and government to help push in the right direction. One group alone can’t make this happen.”

Elena Bennett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences and the School of Environment. She is an ecosystem ecologist and the co-founder of the group Seeds of Good Anthropocenes, which collects and studies the ways that people address environmental problems.

elena.bennett [at] (English)

Dror Etzion, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

COVID-19 is an opportunity to reset the Canadian economy, to make it more socially just and environmentally sustainable. A huge, often overlooked, constituency is small and medium enterprises (SMEs). They are well-positioned to offer Canadians the products and services they need in a way that supports society and restores planetary health.”

Dror Etzion is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Organizations at the Desautels Faculty of Management and an associate member of the School of the Environment. His work suggests that managing for sustainability through local, open, emergent initiatives increases the recruitment of diverse stakeholders, fosters creativity, and yields impactful outcomes.

dror.etzion [at] (English, Hebrew)

Eric Galbraith, Full Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences 

"For decades, we have tried - and failed - to act on climate change. It seemed as though real progress was impossible and that we were locked into a zombie walk into the future. Governments seemed to care about profits much more than people. However, the response to COVID-19 has turned that upside-down. It shows that most governments of the world are ready to put the welfare of people first. This is great news for our future, and that of our planet. We will need to push our governments to keep working for people, once we have made it through the COVID-19 pandemic."

Eric Galbraith is a Full Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He has worked on climate change, biogeochemistry and ecology. His current work aims for an integrative understanding of global sustainability problems, combining Earth system science approaches with simple representations of the global human system.

eric.galbraith [at] (English)


Canada | China | Health policy | International relations | United States 


Daniel Béland, James McGill Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

“Beyond public health issues per se, the COVID-19 crisis is creating major socio-economic challenges which different countries and levels of government must address very swiftly. Assessing the economic and social policies governments put forward to reduce the negative socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on businesses, individuals, and families is crucial in order to see whether these new policies will make a positive difference in our lives.”

Daniel Béland is the Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and James McGill Professor of Political Science. Since 2012, he has held the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy (Tier 1) at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. He specializes in the fields of Canadian and comparative politics, as well as the study of public policy, including social policy.

daniel.beland [at] (English, French)

Johanne Poirier, Full Professor, Faculty of Law

Federalism yields both advantages and disadvantages in handling complex challenges such as a pandemic. We see different federal systems reacting in different ways. In Canada, in the short term, there has been what we could call ‘federal civility’. Tensions that existed before will not disappear and the opacity of all intergovernmental relations in this context should be of concern.”

Johanne Poirier is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Law and holds the inaugural Peter MacKell Chair in Federalism. Her research explores various aspects of federalism, such as the protection of minorities (notably linguistic ones), intergovernmental relations and cooperative federalism.

johanne.poirier3 [at] (English, French)


Juan Wang, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

“The handling of the coronavirus showcases the challenges faced by the Chinese government in the age of social media as a source of information, and a rumor mill that perpetuates the social perception of deceitful local officials. The battle for the Chinese government is not only to contain the spread of the virus, but also to address the political origin of social panic.”

Juan Wang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. Her areas of interest include state building, informal institutions, contentious politics, authoritarian politics, law and politics and Chinese politics.

juan.wang2 [at] (English)

Health policy 

Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Associate Professor, Institute for Health and Social Policy and School of Environment

The ‘science of happiness’ provides a new and extraordinarily relevant tool for making policy decisions (cost-benefit) about COVID-19 and COVID-19-policy impacts. Moreover, the home confinement has likely impressed on or reminded people of what matters most in life, making this an opportune time for the trend amongst governments to align increasingly their policy processes towards an accountability to human outcomes.”

Chris Barrington-Leigh is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the School of Environment and an associate member in the Department of Economics. His research makes use of subjective well-being reports to address the relative importance of social and community-oriented aspects of life as compared with material consumption.

chris.barrington-leigh [at] (English, French)

Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

This pandemic does not affect us all equally. We know that COVID-19 has exacerbated the conditions of certain communities who already experience systemic inequality, poverty and discrimination. Our failure to collect disaggregated data on race and income is unethical and prevents us from providing a racially equitable response to the immediate needs of these communities while simultaneously ensuring their medium and long-term survival post-crisis and beyond.”

Alicia Boatswain-Kyte is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work. With over ten years of clinical experience working with marginalized individuals, families and groups, her research interests center around the systemic oppression of racialized individuals and how this contributes to their unequal representation within systems of social control.

alicia.kyte [at] (English, French)

Eugene Bereza, Senior Ethics Consultant, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)

“In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has acted as an ethics magnifying lens – it has focused our attention and compelled us to consider difficult issues that are normally distilled through the luxury of a much more protracted timeline. It has compelled us to appreciate the essence of our fundamental values as a society, at the same time as it has required us to confront challenges head on and make difficult decisions we have been avoiding.”

Eugene Bereza is family physician with a background in literature, music therapy, palliative care and bioethics. He is the former director of the MUHC Centre for Applied Ethics. He remains actively engaged in academic medical ethics, clinical ethics, research ethics and health policy development across the spectrum of care in Quebec through his work at the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, the MUHC, the Montreal Neurological Institute, as well as many provincial and national, professional organizations.

eugene.bereza [at] (English)

Jay S. Kaufman, Full Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

It is difficult to make rational social and health policies to confront the current pandemic without good surveillance of the population, an understanding of the patterns of transmission, and the risk factors for infection and severe disease. Valid and representative data are the foundation on which sensible policies can be constructed.”

Jay S. Kaufman is a Full Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, a full member of the Centre on Population Dynamics and an associate member of the Institute for Health and Social Policy. His work focuses on social epidemiology, analytic methodology, causal inference and on a variety of health outcomes including perinatal outcomes and infectious diseases.

jay.kaufman [at] (English, Spanish)

Jonathan Kimmelman, James McGill Professor, Department of Social Studies of Medicine and Director, Biomedical Ethics Unit

“Citizens have ethical duties to practice social distancing. Vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 will take a lot of time to develop, so there are no shortcuts here and any treatments or vaccines should be rigorously evaluated before deployment.”

Jonathan Kimmelman is a James McGill Professor in the Biomedical Ethics Unit and Department of Social Studies of Medicine. His research centers on the ethical, social, and policy challenges in testing novel medical technologies in human beings ("translational clinical research"). Current projects are investigating risk, prediction, validity and knowledge value across the trajectory of drug development.

jonathan.kimmelman [at] (English)

Nicholas King, Associate Professor, Department of Social Studies of Medicine

"The COVID-19 epidemic has been shaped not only by the decisions of individual leaders, but also by the larger institutional arrangements and cultures around evidence and expertise. Effectively responding to COVID-19 requires a commitment to producing, understanding, and acting on the best available evidence, fully recognizing its attendant uncertainties and accepting accountability for decisions. We must look to designing democratic institutions that cherish and maintain these values."

Nicholas King is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and an associate member in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Institute of Health of Social Policy. He conducts research on public health, ethics, policy, health information, inequalities, and measurement.

nicholas.king [at] (English) 

Amélie Quesnel-Vallée, Full Professor, Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Sociology

“Physical distancing is a privilege not available to all, especially in urban settings. This, along with the shocks to the economy (job loss) mean the epidemic will likely exacerbate social inequalities.”

Amélie Quesnel-Vallée is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and Sociology and the Director of the McGill Observatory on Health and Social Services Reforms. She also holds the Canada Research Chair on Policies and Health Inequalities. Her research examines the contribution of social policies to the development of social inequalities in health over the life course.

amelie.quesnelvallee [at] (English, French)

Daniel Weinstock, James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law and Director, Institute for Health and Social Policy

We need to cultivate our 'moral capital' by making sure that we are always taking into account the vulnerable among us when we make policy. Older people seem to be the most vulnerable sub-group, but in other sets of circumstances that might not be the case. Vulnerability, and not any fixed criterion like age, should always be something that we keep an eye on in making ethical policy.”

Daniel Weinstock is a James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Law and the Director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy since 2013. He has been an active participant in public policy in Quebec, having been a member from 1997 to 1999 of the Ministry of Education working group on religion in public schools, and from 2003 to 2008, the founding director of Quebec’s Public Health Ethics Committee. His research explores the governance of certain types of liberal democracies, and the effects of religious and cultural diversity from an ethical perspective on the political and ethical philosophy of public policy.

daniel.weinstock2 [at] (English, French)

International relations

Leonardo Baccini, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

There is a great deal of variation in how governments are responding to the pandemic. This variation can be explained by the various incentives being set in place by politicians seeking reelection. This is because COVID-19 and related policies will be the most salient topics in future elections. In short, we see politics as usual in these unusual times.”

Leonardo Baccini is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on international political economy and comparative political economy.

leonardo.baccini [at] (English, Italian)

Rex Brynen, Full Professor, Department of Political Science

When the pandemic is over, the response of the WHO—like that of various governments—needs to be reviewed. Undoubtedly this will identify mistakes and room for improvement. However, the WHO has been an essential part of international efforts against COVID-19, and its broader work on international public health since 1948 has saved tens of millions of lives. It deserves support.”

Rex Brynen is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science. He has served as a member of the Policy Staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs, as an intelligence analyst for the Privy Council Office, and as a consultant to various governments, UN agencies, and the World Bank. He specializes in politics, security, and development in the Middle East.

rex.brynen [at] (English)

Raphael Lencucha, Associate Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

"The WHO is always in a precarious position when it needs to coordinate efforts among their member states, particularly during an emergency. However, the WHO plays a crucial role in coordinating a timely and evidence-informed response to COVID-19, and other transnational threats to human health.”

Raphael Lencucha is an Associate Professor in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. He is interested in the social, political and economic context of public policy making and implementation and is currently conducting research examining the development and implementation of Canada’s first federal recovery-oriented mental health strategy. He is also engaged in research that examines the intersection of public health policymaking (tobacco control) and economic policy in Brazil, Kenya, Malawi, the Philippines and Zambia.

raphael.lencucha [at] (English)

United States 

Jason Opal, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History and Classical Studies

“The federal structure of North American polities (especially the United States and Canada, but also Mexico) has shaped the response, in that provinces and states have largely decided what to do by themselves. This is not good from an epidemiological point of view – the situation is doubly bad in the U.S. due to the uncoordinated nature of the health care industry.”

Jason Opal is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Classical Studies, where he teaches and writes about the US Constitution in different periods of American history. His work tries to integrate social, cultural, and intellectual history and to shed light on such broad topics as nationalism, capitalism, democracy and U.S.-Canada foreign relations.

jason.opal [at] (English, French)


Economic impacts | Health care services and spending

Economic impacts 

Rui Castro, Full Professor, Department of Economics

“The public policy response to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic needs to emphasize three priority areas. First and foremost, massive spending in public health, to address the root of the problem. Second, expansion of social insurance policies, to alleviate the economic burden of the hardest-hit individuals. Third, liquidity provision to individuals and firms, to help them overcome this temporary shock and prevent the destruction of viable businesses.”

Rui Castro is a Full Professor in the Department of Economics. His research is on macroeconomics with connections to other areas such as economic development, labor economics, international economics, political economy, and finance.

rui.castro [at] (English, French)

Nicolas Gendron-Carrier, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Small businesses tend to have less than 2-months of cash on hand and are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks of this magnitude. Given how long the crisis is expected to last, small business owners have had to make difficult decisions, including laying off staff and shutting down operations. The pandemic has already caused massive dislocation among small businesses and the damage to the economy is likely to outlast stay-at-home orders."

Nicolas Gendron-Carrier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics. His scholarly work pertains to cities and local labour markets.

nicolas.gendron-carrier [at] (English, French)

Christopher Ragan, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Director, Max Bell School of Public Policy

“The typical government response to recession is to stimulate the economy and get people back to work. But this is completely different. Getting people back to work is not the solution here. We need people to stay at home, but we also need to provide income relief.”

Christopher Ragan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Director of the Max Bell School of Public Policy. He is the Chair of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, a group of Canadian economists seeking to broaden the discussion of environmental pricing reform beyond the academic sphere and into the realm of practical policy application. His research and academic writing is largely focused on Canadian public policy challenges, and since 2007, the policy responses to the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

christopher.ragan [at] (English)

Health care services and spending  

Leslie Breitner, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management and Academic Director, International Masters for Health Leadership

The COVID-19 crisis has given rise to the exploration of ‘blind spots’ in the local and national health care systems. Rather than being reactive, we must think ahead and be in an anticipatory mode. This includes thinking about what happens to rural areas with regard to health care delivery, what to do when structured organizations simply cannot respond rapidly, and the collateral damage of non-COVID-19 patients and victims.”

Leslie Breitner is a Senior Faculty Lecturer at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the Director of the International Master’s Program for Health Leadership. She is an experienced teacher in distance learning courses and has also taught and acted as a consultant to medical schools, teaching hospitals, foundations, and nonprofit organizations on issues related to financial management, integrated health delivery, and strategic planning.

leslie.breitner [at] (English)

Erin Strumpf, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

“The sweet spot is taking action to limit the spread of the disease and impact on healthcare systems and on population health, while simultaneously minimizing the length of time we need to shut down the economy and engage in social distancing.”

Erin Strumpf is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Her research in health economics focuses on measuring the impacts of policies designed to improve the delivery of health care services and improve health outcomes. She examines the effects on health care spending and health outcomes overall, and on inequalities across groups.

erin.strumpf [at] (English, French, Spanish)


Airline industry | Buying localSupply chainTelework and remote work

Airline industry

John Gradek, Faculty Lecturer, School of Continuing Studies

“With over half of the world’s commercial aircraft now in storage and with air travelers at 1954 traffic levels, the aviation community is attempting to conserve some semblance of its former self and ensure that it in a position to begin service once governments give the clearance for air travel to begin. North American governments have provided bridging finances in the form of wage subsidies, loans and grants to the industry as means to conserve employment . Some government assistance requires airlines to continue to operate notwithstanding the lack of air traffic. Other government measures include the requirement for passengers to wear protective face coverings as a precondition to embark on a commercial aircraft. What other measures might be in store for air travelers as the industry looks to rebuild its trust in offering a safe and sanitary environment?"

John Gradek is lecturing in the Diploma program in Integrated Aviation Management as well as in both the certificate and diploma programs of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Operations Management. He has held senior roles at Air Canada in operations, marketing and planning and has worked in the development and the delivery of commercial airline management programs for the International Aviation Management Training Institute.

john.gradek [at] (English, French)

Buying local

Charles de Brabant, Executive Director, Bensadoun School of Retail Management, Desautels Faculty of Management

“Le Panier Bleu, a new local business registry launched by the Quebec government, generated immediate interest with almost 3 million queries in less than 24 hours, with 1170 companies already listed. These figures seem to demonstrate a community craze among Quebecers to buy locally. This movement in retail and in our daily lives had already begun prior to current events – it has increased in Quebec since the beginning of the crisis, as it has in the rest of the world. As human beings, we have a real need to belong to a community, especially during crises.”

Charles de Brabant joined McGill University in 2017 to co-lead the creation and the development of the Bensadoun School of Retail Management whose ambition is to be the leading academic institution in the world dedicated to the future of retail. With over 25 years of experience mostly working in Europe and most recently in China and South East Asia, his passions and expertise sit at the crossroads of people, development, executive education and consulting in strongly branded and fast-growing retail environments.

charles.debrabant [at] (English, French)

Pascal Thériault, Faculty Lecturer, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

In these times of uncertainty on our food supply, the notion of self sufficiency is more present than ever. Canada is one of the largest exporters of agricultural products, yet we have a portion of our population unable to have adequate access to food. As a society we must question our current model which relies on just in time delivery and the lowest cost of inputs. We must also adequately value the cost of food and agri-food sector jobs.”

Pascal Thériault is a Faculty Lecturer in the Farm Management and Technology Program and the Director of Community Relations at the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. A trained agricultural economist, his expertise includes agri-food marketing, entrepreneurship, farm business management, food waste, international trade and value chain management.

pascal.theriault [at] (English, French)

Supply chain 

Yu Ma, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“The retail industry has to be prepared for the multifaceted and profound impact of the outbreak. Consumers are stocking up essentials but cutting spending on other goods and personal service. Global supply chains are disrupted. More people and organizations are moving towards online or remote shopping, working, education and entertainment.”

Yu Ma is an Associate Professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management and a Bensadoun Faculty Scholar. His research interest includes food marketing, retailing and big data analytics. Using consumer purchase data and advanced econometric and statistical models, he studies how consumers react to various marketing incentives. [at] (English)

Ashesh Mukherjee, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

The Internet has made other people’s panic buying much more visible. Online news from around the world highlights shortages of products; the moment we access such content in our Facebook feed, we are automatically shown similar stories in future news feeds. This creates an illusion that everyone is hoarding, which prompts us to do the same. Hoarding is a self-fulfilling prophecy: people who hear about possible shortages buy more, which causes merchandise to disappear from shelves and makes the shortage seem real.”

Ashesh Mukherjee is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management, where he teaches consumer behavior and marketing management. His research focuses on marketing communications, word-of-mouth, online behaviour and pro-social behaviour, including the use of scarcity in advertising, the impact of product advisors on consumer decision-making and behavior in peer-to-peer markets such as Airbnb and Uber.

ashesh.mukherjee [at] (English)

Javad Nasiry, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“The sudden spike in demand, whether for medical supplies or consumer goods, has caught supply chain managers by surprise. Supply chains are resilient enough to weather the short-term consequences and catch up with demand. However, labour markets that are affected by sickness, strikes, and layoffs can jeopardize the short-term and, more critically, the long-term response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Javad Nasiry is an Associate Professor of Operations Management at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His main research interests are in behavioral operations, supply chain management, retail operations, operations-marketing interface, and empirical operations-finance interface. His work in behavioral operations elaborates on whether and how psychological phenomena such as reference effects may affect aggregate variables (e.g., market demand) and their implications on firms' operational policies especially in pricing, inventory, and assortment.

javad.nasiry [at] (English)

Telework and remote work  

Marie-Lyne Grenier, Faculty Lecturer, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy

“Globally, many workers and students are adapting to the shift to working and learning from home. This shift comes with particular risks to one’s physical and mental health. Ensuring an ergonomic working or learning space can decrease the risk for physical and mental health difficulties. Resources to help guide workers and students are abundant online. However, sifting through these resources to determine evidence-based ‘best practices’ is much more challenging and yet vital to preventing further risks to workers’ physical and mental health. Tips for how to set-up an ergonomic space that is based on sound evidence should be prioritized for at-home workers and learners to decrease health risks during this period of social distancing.”

Marie-Lyne Grenier is an Occupational Therapist and Faculty Lecturer at the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy. She is also an ergonomic specialist and a consultant.

marie-lyne.grenier [at] (English, French)

Jean-Nicolas Reyt, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“Organizations are increasingly requiring their employees to work from their homes. People who have no experience with remote work will face important challenges, such as dealing with distractions, managing the sudden overlap between their home and work responsibilities, and coordinating work projects without meeting face to face. These challenges are likely to have severe impacts on employees' productivity and mental wellbeing. Organizations should not push their employees into remote work and hope for the best, but instead should prepare for these upcoming issues and monitor their effects.”

Jean-Nicolas Reyt is an Assistant Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research focuses on the relationship between employees' mental representations of their work and important work outcomes including creativity, exploratory learning, and interpersonal influence. He also studies mobile technology-facilitated work and other organizational factors that influence mental representations.

jean-nicholas.reyt [at] (English, French)


Inequality and job loss | Labour marketMigrant workers | Nonstandard work 

Inequality and job loss

Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“Job loss is only one of the many effects of COVID-19 on work and workers. These effects cascade beyond accelerating the ongoing work-from-home movement. Some of these changes could persist well beyond the pandemic itself.”

Lisa Cohen is an Associate Professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management. Prior to joining Desautels, she was a faculty member at the London Business School, the Yale School of Management and the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine, where she taught in the areas of strategic human resources, organizational behavior and communications.

lisa.cohen2 [at] (English)

Barry Eidlin, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

“The coronavirus crisis is exposing and exacerbating previously existing social problems. In a context of wage stagnation, rising household debt and growing inequality, few people have the means to absorb the shock of suddenly losing their livelihoods. At the same time, groups of workers deemed 'unskilled' just a few weeks ago are now considered 'essential' to basic social functioning. They are being put in harm’s way every day so that the rest of us can remain fed, clothed, and sheltered as we isolate. In the near future, those without work need immediate relief without restrictions, while those still working need proper protection and pay commensurate with their essential work. In the longer term, the crisis shows that governments can think much more broadly about providing for people’s basic needs. We can use this as an opportunity to fix the inequities that exacerbated the crisis for so many.”

Barry Eidlin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. As a comparative historical sociologist, his research explores the changing relationship between social mobilization, political processes, and ideology in advanced capitalist democracies.

barry.eidlin [at] (English, French)

John-Paul Ferguson, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

“The restrictions on economic activity that we have to observe to fight this virus will land disproportionately on those people more marginally employed. The way we try to remedy that — specifically the forms economic stimulus can take — will have to look different than what was employed, for example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in the United States. In the end, subsidies to employers are likely to leave contract workers out in the cold.”

John-Paul Ferguson is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour in the Desautels Faculty of Management. His research focuses on careers, labor markets, and employment segregation. In addition to his academic work, he has prior experience with the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, and the U.S. Department of State.

john-paul.ferguson [at] (English)

Labour market

Francesco Amodio, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Institute for the Study of International Development

“When it comes to labor market relief measures, we are seeing governments around the world adopting one or a combination of the following two approaches. In the first one, the government lets firms lay off workers, then pays out employment insurance or benefits or other cash transfers. The second approach is to have the government subsidizing wages in order to avoid layoffs. As for Canada, the new Emergency Response Benefit (ERB) is in line with the first approach. The 75% wage subsidy for small and medium businesses belongs to the second approach. There are pros and cons to each of these measures.”

Francesco Amodio is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics and the Institute for the Study of International Development. His research focuses on labour economics, development economics, and political economy. He studies market imperfections and their impact on the productivity and efficiency of organizations.

francesco.amodio [at] (English, French)

Fabian Lange, Full Professor, Department of Economics

"Nobody knows how large the risks from reopening the economy are. A strategy of supervised randomization promises to control the risk of opening sectors while at the same time to economize on scarce testing capacities."

Fabian Lange is a Full Professor in the Department of Economics and holds the Canada Research Chair in Labour and Personnel Economics. He is also a Research Associate in the NBER’s Labour Studies Program, and co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Economics. He studies how changing mobility in the labor force interacts with the business cycle and the process by which individuals get shut out of the labor market.

fabian.lange [at] (English, French)

Migrant workers

Jill Hanley, Associate Professor, School of Social Work

“It is a critical question of both human rights and public health that migrant workers in Canada get access to all the same services and supports as other workers at this time. They need free access to healthcare, regardless of their status, and they need access to the income security measures that will allow them to self-isolate if necessary or to make ends meet if they lose their jobs in the economic downturn. These measures are important for the workers themselves, for their families who rely on their income, and for public health in general.”

Jill Hanley is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work and the Scientific Director of the Sherpa Research Institute on Migration, Health and Social Services. Her work focuses on closing the gaps between policies and practice concerning the social rights of migrant populations.

jill.hanley [at] (English, French, Spanish)

Nonstandard work

Matthew Corritore, Assistant Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

"We still have so much to learn about gig work: what kinds of workers do it? To what extent are workers replacing other types of employment with gig work? Is gig work changing the jobs and tasks that workers are willing to perform? The emergence of COVID-19 raises even more questions, because demand is likely to increase for some types of gig work, such as food delivery, but decrease for other types like ride sharing and housecleaning. The health and safety of these gig workers is a concern, especially since they lack access to the many benefits and protections afforded to regular employees."

Matthew Corritore is an Assistant Professor of Strategy & Organization in the Desautels Faculty of Management. He investigates questions related to corporate culture and nonstandard work, including computational techniques that leverage the power of big data and natural language processing (i.e. text analysis) to measure complex social phenomena.

matthew.corritore [at] (English)

Chantal Westgate, Senior Faculty Lecturer, Desautels Faculty of Management

“For many people the gig economy is just an opportunity to make extra money. But according to studies, the gig economy is the primary source of income for one third of its workers. There are impacts, both mental and physical, resulting from being involved in the gig economy that range from underemployment , to a lack of control over one’s hours, to stress from working more than one job, and reduced well-being due to the uncertainties of working in this sector.”

Chantal Westgate teaches a variety of organizational behavior courses at the undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and executive training levels. She has provided custom business and executive training programs for McGill's International Executive Institute, Ubisoft, Air Canada, CN, Cirque Du Soleil, and more. She’s also been a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide.

chantal.westgate [at] (English, French)

McGill Research

Artificial intelligence | Crowdsourcing | Health statistics and dataImmune responseTesting | Treatments and drugs

Artificial intelligence 

Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine

“Artificial intelligence and technologies could provide us substantial assistance in prevention, early detection, and management of COVID-19. This is the time we need to be more innovative than we have ever been, and make the best use of AI and the available technology to improve the situation and add value. In my team, we are working with international collaborators to use the power of AI and technology for prevention and management of COVID-19.”

Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and an affiliated scientist at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital. With an interdisciplinary background, she is interested in the development, evaluation, and implementation of clinical decision support tools and patient decision aids, as well as integrating human-centered AI tools in primary health care. Samira Abbasgholizadeh-Rahimi was awarded a grant by the Brocher Foundation of Switzerland for the “AI-COVID19” project, a collaboration between clinicians, researchers and the World Health Organization to better inform the next phase of COVID-19.

samira.rahimi [at] (English, Farsi, French, Turkish)


Guillaume Bourque, Full Professor, Department of Human Genetics and Director of Bioinformatics, McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre

“There are so many great scientific activities and initiatives that have been launched in the context of COVID-19 that at times it is hard to find what you’re looking for. With the portal created by myself and Tara Moriarty (University of Toronto), we are using crowdsourcing to aggregate initiatives and help scientists and clinicians find volunteers, reagents and other relevant information.”

Guillaume Bourque is a Full Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Director of Bioinformatics at the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre. He is a project lead, in collaboration with Tara Moriarty from the University of Toronto, of the national COVID-19 Resources Canada portal, a central hub designed to help those involved in COVID-19 R&D in Canada to locate expertise and equipment in a timely manner.

guillaume.bourque [at] (English, French)

Jason Karamchandani, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology

We will need more information to make evidence-based decisions. A significant portion of this information will come in the form of proper laboratory testing, both for the diagnosis of infection, and to determine evidence of immunity and other associate parameters, such as the duration of immunity.”

Jason Karamchandani is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and a neuropathologist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. His research employs bio-informatic data to identify and to characterize biomarkers relevant to classification and prognosis of brain tumors and neuromuscular disorders.

jason.karamchandani [at] (English)

Selena Sagan, Associate Professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology

“The research community has been extremely forthcoming with their data, journals are fast-tracking COVID-19 studies for publication, many researchers are teaming up to tackle the virus or support those who are participating in COVID-19 research, and the sheer pace at which the knowledge and data is being shared on a worldwide scale is really astonishing.”

Selena Sagan is an Associate Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology. She holds the Canada Research Chair in RNA Biology and Viral Infections and her laboratory studies positive-strand RNA viruses of the Flaviviridae family (including Hepatitis C virus, Dengue virus and Zika virus) as well as negative-strand RNA viruses (including Respiratory Syncytial Virus). The main focus of her research program is RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions at the host-virus interface.

selena.sagan [at] (English)

Health statistics and data

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

“Information about the epidemic is the cornerstone on which to build responses to the outbreak. Mathematical models can help understand epidemiological data, predict demand on health systems, and how best to mitigate the public health threat posed by COVID-19. More than ever, their results should be carefully appraised and interpreted in light of their inherent limitations.”

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and an associate member of the Centre on Population Dynamics. His recent work has focused on impact evaluations of public health interventions, measurements and disease burden assessments, and behavioural interventions to control infectious diseases.

mathieu.maheu-giroux [at] (English, French, Spanish)

Immune response 

Jörg Fritz, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

“The current COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance of understanding the functioning of our bodies’ immune system. Critics of vaccines can now see how lethal a world without a vaccine can be. It also highlights the fact that in a globalized society the development and distribution of vaccines for all infectious diseases is an essential cornerstone of a stable society.”

Jörg Fritz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and a primary member of the McGill University Research Centre on Complex Traits. He is currently working with international collaborators to better understand the immune response to COVID-19, defining how antiviral immunity functions at a molecular level, in order to develop tests to determine who is immune and inform vaccine development.

jorg.fritz [at] (English, German)

Irah King, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology

“The symptoms associated with COVID-19 range from mild cough to acute respiratory failure, but we still don’t know what factors determine disease severity. However, we do know that the vast microbial community living within the intestine, referred to as the microbiome, has a strong influence on our health. One of the most important functions of the microbiome is to regulate how the immune system responds to viruses, even those that infect our respiratory system. Because the composition of our gut microbiome can be changed by lifestyle choices such as diet, sleep patterns and drugs, it should not only be considered in how patients respond to current treatments for COVID-19, but should also be thought of as a target for interventions that limit disease severity.”

Irah King is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Canada Research Chair in Humoral Immunity. His current research builds on existing evidence that the gut microbiome affects our immune response to respiratory infection, that evidence of the disease shows up in fecal swabs and stool samples, and that COVID-19 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms often experience worse outcomes.

irah.king [at] (English)


Sara Mahshid, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering

“There is an urgent need for rapid and accurate diagnostic tools that provide information about the stage of the disease to individuals affected by COVID-19 at the point of need. The long waiting time of the current diagnostic approaches based on nasopharyngeal swab leaves affected individuals at high risk of respiratory infection and accelerates the spread of the disease.”

Sarah Mahshid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and an associate member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has developed a prototype that can potentially simplify testing of SARS-Cov2 RNA via a colorimetric approach, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture tests, and providing faster results for diagnostics of COVID-19.

sara.mahshid [at] (English)

Mark Trifiro, Full Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine

"Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is typically used nowadays for diagnosing infections including viruses such as the COVID-19. The updated PCR methodology introduces nanoparticle into the PCR reaction and a laser is employed to activate thermocycling a requirement for PCR. Not only does this new technique increases PCR efficiency allowing results in minutes rather than hours, it also allows the design of a battery operated compact portable PCR machine that can be used as a point of care device when the patient is first seen by a health professional for near instant diagnosis."

Mark Trifiro is a Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Investigator at the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital. In collaboration with Andrew Kirk and Miltiadis Paliouras from the Faculty of Engineering, he has developed a revolutionary methodology to construct a portable diagnostic device. The testing platform would give results in minutes and would help enormously in infection control management of the COVID-19 outbreak and future pathogenic viral epidemics.

mark.trifiro [at] (English)

Treatments and drugs

Nicolas Moitessier, Full Professor, Department of Chemistry

“Developing a treatment will take time. Existing drugs will hopefully pass clinical trials and will be made available at least as a temporary solution to the crisis. In a more negative scenario, the virus could continue to propagate during the summer months, leading to a large portion of the population being infected. With potentially billions of cases and the possibility of being infected more than once, it is imperative for the drug to be affordable and accessible. The pool of existing and affordable drugs is rather small, and we need to consider the possibility that none of them will be effective. Several Canadian research groups are working on developing new treatments as an alternative. Considering this state of emergency, researchers and health professionals are racing as never before, and the challenge is to provide results as soon as possible while not cutting corners.”

Nicolas Moitessier is a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry. His current research interests integrate computational chemistry and organic/medicinal chemistry, spanning from software development to synthetic methodology development. He is currently investigating the use of a combination of computer calculations and laboratory testing to rapidly identify and validate molecules that block an enzyme that is essential to the COVID-19.

nicolas.moitessier [at] (English, French)

Abhinav Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine

“There is controversy with regards to commonly prescribed cardiovascular drugs and their role in among patients with a COVID-19 infection. There are several on-going studies that will provide more data on the risk or benefit of these cardiovascular drugs in patients with COVID-19 infection, but there is much to be learned.”

Abhinav Sharma is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed to the Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine. His current research is trying to determine if a class of commonly-prescribed drugs used for patients with cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure contributes to outcomes among individuals with a COVID-19 infection, which would provide important guidance for managing heart disease and high blood pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

abhinav.sharma [at] (English)

Contact Information

Frederique Mazerolle
McGill University
frederique.mazerolle [at]
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