This website commemorates the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research. The Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research (LDI) is a branch of the Jewish General Hospital which is located in Montreal. The Institute majors in research and has an academic affiliation with McGill University.
It was founded in 1969 and since then there have been major break-throughs in medical research areas of HIV/AIDS, Aging, Cancer, Vascular Disorders, Epidemiology and Psychosocial Science, and have thereby contributed to the health and well-being of millions of patients in Montreal, across Quebec and around the world.
Their physical address is;
Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
3755 Côte Ste-Catherine Road
Montreal, Quebec H3T 1E2
The story of the LDI began three years earlier, when the non-profit Eldee Foundation initiated talks with the JGH with a view to funding a medical research institute at the hospital. The Eldee Foundation was founded several years earlier by the late Lady Henrietta Davis, widow of the philanthropist Sir Mortimer B. Davis, a major supporter of the JGH.
The Directors of the JGH Foundation recognized the need to accelerate the pace of medical research in an increasingly complex era of high-technology medicine. In collaboration with the Eldee Foundation, they offered to provide the financial resources necessary for the construction and establishment of a modern, fully-equipped facility that would enable the JGH to significantly expand its existing medical research program.
The Board of Directors of the JGH enthusiastically accepted the proposal, and the project quickly accelerated. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in an empty lot on the corner of Cote Ste. Catherine Road and Légaré Street on April 16, 1968. The LDI was open and operating just over a year later.
For its first two decades, the LDI flourished under the direction of Dr. Norman Kalant and became one of the most important medical research institutes in Quebec and throughout Canada. In 1991, upon the retirement of Dr. Kalant, Dr. Samuel O. Freedman, former Dean of Medicine and former Vice-Principal (Academic) of McGill University was named Director of Research at the LDI and the JGH.
In 2000 Dr. Freedman retired and world-renowned AIDS investigator Dr. Mark A. Wainberg took on the role of director. In late 2009, Dr. Wainberg in turn stepped aside to focus on his laboratory research, and the mantle of director was passed to the noted geneticist Dr. Roderick R. McInnes.
The first major expansion of the Lady Davis Institute was completed in January of 1992, with the addition of four new floors and laboratories. The expanded Institute was officially opened in May 1992.
In August of 2006, two additional floors of laboratories were added in the adjacent Pavilion E to accommodate the basic science laboratories of the Segal Cancer Centre. These new laboratories – which added 40,000 square feet of research space to the Institute – are linked by a bridge to the original LDI building. As of this writing, the total research space available exceeds 165,000 square feet of laboratory and clinical research facilities in the original Lady Davis Institute, the Segal Cancer Centre, the JGH Institute for Community Family Psychiatry, and the JGH Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies.
The LDI is an integral part of the Jewish General Hospital and has strong academic links to McGill University. All basic science and clinical investigators at the LDI have university appointments. The LDI boasts more than 200 researchers, 100 administrative and support staff, and about 175 post-graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who receive their research training at the Institute yearly.
Over the years, the LDI has been remarkably successful in attracting outstanding investigators with national and international reputations. Special areas of interest include Cancer Therapeutics, Molecular Oncology, Cell and Gene Therapy, AIDS/HIV, Aging, Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, Clinical Epidemiology, and Psychosocial Aspects of Disease. The LDI is one of the most productive hospital-based research institutes in Canada and Quebec in terms of peer-reviewed grant funding per square feet.
Bertha and I were born and raised in Montreal. Bertha was the neighborhood’s sweetheart. Unlike most popular and stunning teenage girls, she was kind, loving and book smart. Most people attributed her nature to the strong christian background that she was brought up in. Her father was a priest and her mother managed all church activities. She just was so respectful to everyone; both young and elderly. I was lucky enough to be her best friend. We lived next door to each other and our mums were best friends as well.
When we grew older and left for University. She had never experienced this much freedom before, and it hurt her. She became a totally changed person. Well, she was still sweet and friendly to everyone but being a natural beauty, popular college students grouped together.
We barely saw each other since I was not as popular as she now was. However she still created time for me so I believe our friendship was afloat. During the second semester, my sweet friend started skipping classes, partying all night, drinking and smoking anything that was handed to her. She fell in love with a handsome phys ed student, and they were a cool couple. May be it’s time I asked her why she didn’t hook me up even with a cute guy.
The early risks that we don’t realize, lead to cancer later
As a friend, I thought that the smoking was just a phase, just as mine was (couldn’t stand the nasty after taste so I quit) but no, her’s wasn’t. This went on all through college although she dropped out during her final year when she discovered that she was pregnant. Her parent’s home was a no go zone so she moved into her boyfriend’s house and decided to get a job at the local grocery store as a cashier. Her parents had cut all communication with her after they found out the kind of lifestyle that she was living and more so when they received news that she had gotten pregnant. I feel pretty sad about this. Bertha must have been devastated.
This was not the life that Bertha had imagined for herself living when she was younger. My dear friend was disappointed and frustrated. She became a bitter version of herself. By now, she was a heavy smoker and still got drunk occasionally. I understood her frustration and tried to be an even better friend at this time. The first time we had a hearty talk she cried her heart out.
I advised her that it wasn’t too late to change. I encouraged her to stop smoking and she did, for a few hours then she dived back into it. Apparently, quitting smoking was harder than we thought. She tried so hard for the sake of her unborn baby but she kept falling off the caravan. A few months later, we welcomed baby Scotty. He was truly his father’s son. So handsome and perfect in all ways and yes, am his Godmother. Ain’t no way anyone’s going to rip me off of that title. Unfortunately, I had to leave Montreal. I got a job in another province. We had a long and tearful goodbye but we promised to write each other often.
Bertha was very close with her younger sister Carrie and she would sneak in to hang out with Bertha briefly against her parent’s knowledge. Years later, Bertha received a call from her father. This was very strange as the two hadn’t talked for years. She put it on voicemail at first but when her mom called seconds later, she knew that she just had to pick up.
“Hi. We need you at the Hospital right away, please?” Her mother sounded sad, weak and shaken. She rushed there and received news that Bertha’s sister Carrie had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. As expected, she didn’t take the news very well. She broke down in so much pain and confusion. Luckily, the cancer was detected at an early stage so chances of full recovery were very high. Carrie went through the usual treatments, breast surgery, radiation, and some standard chemotherapy, and has been a breast cancer survivor every since. Carrie’s case brought the family a little bit closer and they commenced talking to Bertha more frequently.
Cancer cases were now cropping up and everyone was keen over even the slightest symptoms. Since Bertha always accompanied her sister for her sessions, she got the opportunity to learn a lot about this disease. From the information given, she could easily be victim due to her heavy smoking and the fact that it run in her family. She had never been more determined to quit smoking. She at times could go for a week without smoking but she would find herself back it. This was especially so after her high school sweetheart, now husband, died in a car crash. The misery in her face aged her and that’s when I decided to quit my job and come back to my home town to be with my friend.
At the age of 59, Bertha decided to retire. She had 3 children by now, all grown up. The last born was 25 years and very successful. We decided to take a girls (Or is it grandmas) Safari to Africa. The excitement was obvious and we just couldn’t wait to get there. We shopped, did research on all we could about Africa and even made reservations. We settled for Kenya due to its terrific scenery and breath taking tourists attractions.
The fortuitious diagnosis of cancer
Among the many requirements was a medical test, a chest X-ray to be specific. There was no worry in our minds so we gladly took the test. Although exposing my ‘slippers’ boobies isn’t my strongest attribute, i was ready to take one for the team. 2 days later, Bertha received a phone call from the hospital, her results were ready and so were mine. We went in together. The Safari plans were all we talked about even on our way to the hospital. We requested to go in together, we’ve never kept any secrets from each other and this was definitely not a good day to start.
“Sorry Bertha, we think you’ve got lung cancer, on the chest X-ray.” We both blurted a “WHAT?” She painfully broke down and said God was punishing her for her sins in college. I took her into my arms and we wept together. A few minutes later, we were ready for the way forward. The doctor was exceptionally kind and detailed. He demystified cancer and assured us that we could beat it.
Waiting lists for scans and biopsies and consults with specialists
The first step was a CT Scan, which she got done within a few days. The second step was the Bronchoscopy, and she had to wait a month for that. In this procedure, a doctor took a look at her throat all through to her lower airway using a thin viewing instrument called a bronchoscope. This was done in order to collect tissue and mucus samples for examination and help determine the extent of the cancer. Unfortunately, the cytology result was inconclusive, so a different biopsy was needed.
The fine needle biopsy was in the third step, and she had to wait 2 weeks for another CT scan appointment. In this case, after freezing the skin, a very slender needle is passed in between the ribs, into the lung, into the lung tumor, and some cells are sucked out for analysis. All these tests came out positive and my sweet Bertha was officially given a diagnosis of non-small cell lung ca. NSCLC.
Of course, her sister reminded her that she did beat breast cancer and knowing how strong Bertha was, she was going to beat it too. But Bertha knew already that lung cancer is much worse prognosis than breast cancer.
Finally, after weeks of waiting, a thoracic surgeon performed a left upper Lobectomy at the Jewish General Hospital. We all felt so lucky that surgery was even possible. The doctor’s were at first, reluctant to do any surgery, and Bertha had to plead with them, to give her the chance.
The procedure seemed to take forever but the long wait came to an end when the doctor emerged from the Operating Room and announced that the procedure was successful. Days in the hospital followed, with a chest tube draining reddish bloody liquid, coughing and fever.
I am happy to say that although we didn’t make to go to Africa, Bertha is completely cancer free and thriving in good health. Well apart from the sore ribs that still bothers her, that have now earned a nickname ‘Sore-Tishia’. This always cracks me up. She is forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who took excellent care of her all through her stay at the hospital. The love and support from the hospital was out of this world.