For two decades, the University of Ottawa Centre for Neuromuscular Disease (CNMD) has been a beacon of hope for thousands of Canadians living with neuromuscular problems. On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, during an official ceremony at Roger Guindon Hall, the Centre was named in memory of Dr. Éric Poulin.
Dr. Poulin was a pioneer in minimally invasive surgery. He was chief of surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto from 1993 to 2003 before taking on the same position at The Ottawa Hospital from 2003 to 2013. He was a valued uOttawa faculty member and a respected mentor to many young physicians who later became successful surgeons.
But in 2011, Dr. Poulin was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects motor neurons throughout the body and robs patients of their ability to move, speak, swallow and, eventually, breathe. What makes ALS particularly cruel is that while the body’s muscles waste away, the mind remains clear. Dr. Poulin passed away five years later on March 6, 2016. The Faculty of Medicine, his fellow surgeons and his family were devastated by his death, which motivated Margo Brousseau to seek ways to spare future patients the suffering her husband had experienced.
This motivation explains Margo Brousseau’s $1 million donation to the Centre to fund advances in ALS research through the Dr. Éric Poulin Post-Doctoral Fellowship in ALS, the Dr. Éric Poulin CNMD Clinical Research Chair in ALS, and the Dr. Éric Poulin CNMD Endowed Lecture Series in ALS. “The hope is that one day, no other doctor will have to step away from his or her life-saving work—nor any family lose a loved one—due to ALS,” said Margo Brousseau.
Margo Brousseau holds an MBA and is a member of the Barreau du Québec(Quebec’s legal association) and the Law Society of Ontario. In 2006, she received a licentiate in canon law from Saint Paul University.
“We both dedicated our careers to helping people, in our own way,” said Margo Brousseau. “Even though Éric is no longer with us, it’s nice to know that his legacy will carry on this good work.”
As part of the University of Ottawa Brain and Mind Research Institute (uOBMRI), the CNMD gathers together more than 60 scientists and clinicians, along with their research teams, to create one of the world’s largest concentrations of neuromuscular specialists. CNMD members specialize in researching diseases that affect muscles and nerves, such as ALS, spinal muscular atrophy, and muscular dystrophies. Although many of these diseases are currently considered incurable, recent breakthroughs have resulted in promising new treatments—giving hope to patients and their families.