PHA Canada announces the first recipient of the Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship

PHA Canada announces the first recipient of the Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship


PHA Canada is pleased to announce the first recipient of the Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship: Alice Bourgeois, Master’s in Molecular Medicine student at Laval University (Quebec City, QC).

Scholarships of up to $10,000 are offered by PHA Canada in order to promote and support pulmonary hypertension (PH) research in Canada. The Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship is named to honour the incredible support of the Mohammed Family, who have organized yearly Run/Walk for PH Research fundraisers in Ajax, Ontario since 2014. For more information on the Mohammed Family PH Research Scholarship, click here


Alice Bourgeois
Laval University, Department of Medicine (Quebec City, QC)

Under the supervision of: Dr. Olivier Boucherat, Researcher and Assistant Professor, Laval University, Department of Medicine, IUCPQ Research Centre


Alice Bourgeois began her Master’s in Molecular Medicine in January 2017 at Laval University, where she recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She has always had a strong interest in understanding the fundamental mechanisms that cause disease, which is why she chose to pursue her graduate studies in this field. For the last two years, Alice has worked as a summer student for the Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Research Group at Quebec City’s Cardiology and Respirology Institute’s Research Centre (Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec). This experience gave her insight into the broad field of health sciences research and consolidated her interest in pursuing a career in the field. She is pleased to remain involved with the PAH Research Group for her graduate studies, which will focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms leading to the development of PAH and investigating new therapeutic treatments. She feels privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to scientific knowledge.

Alice’s Project: Role of FOXM1 in DNA damage response and cell cycle progression in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a lung disease characterized by elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries due to remodeling of the blood vessel walls. This increased pressure in the lungs can lead to right heart failure and premature death. The underlying cause of PAH remains unknown. Treatments are available, but they are limited, expensive, and often associated with undesirable side effects. Therefore there is an urgent need to identify new therapeutic targets and develop new treatments. The main goal of this project is to study the implication of Forkhead box protein M1 (FoxM1) in PAH. Previous promising studies in the field of cancer research have shown that FoxM1 is produced in abnormally large amounts and that it could be a potential therapeutic target. Considering characteristics shared by cancer cells and pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells in PAH, the project proposes that FoxM1 may be involved in causing PAH. This research will investigate the possible role of FoxM1 in the development of PAH using two different approaches. Firstly, PAH cell lines will be tested to see if it is possible to correct the hyper-proliferation of pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells and resistance to cell death. Secondly, working with rodents, the researchers will evaluate whether inhibiting FoxM1 prevents or reverses PAH characteristics. This study opens new avenues to PAH treatment and will provide a better understanding of the disease at a molecular level.

PHA Canada gratefully acknowledges the fundraising efforts of the Mohammed Family’s Annual Walk/Run for PH Research (Ajax, Ontario) for making this research scholarship award possible. 

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