Michel Bouvier, Ph.D., FCAHS, FRSC

Awards & Honours

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 2014
  • Senior Investigator award, Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences, 2012
  • Adrien-Pouliot Award for his collaborative work with France, Acfas, 2011
  • Michel-Sarrazin Award, Club de Recherches Cliniques du Québec, 2010
  • Peter E. Dresel Memorial Lecture Award, Dalhousie University, 2009
  • Leo-Parizeau Award for research excellence in life sciences, Acfas, 2006
  • David Landsborough Thomson Lecture Award, McGill University, 2005
  • Alfred Grossman Award of the EJLB Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, 2003 and 2007
  • Canada Research Chair in Signal Transduction and Molecular Pharmacology, 2001–
  • Université de Montréal Hans Selye (Bristol-Myers Squibb) Chair in Molecular Biology, 1997-2006
  • Merck-Frosst Young Investigator Award, Canadian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology, 1997
  • Quebec Hypertension Society Young Investigator Award, 1997
  • Canada Medical Research Council Scientist, 1994-1999
  • André Dupont young investigator Award, Club de recherches cliniques du Québec, 1994
  • Joe Doupe Award, Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, 1993

Training

  • Postdoctoral training with Robert J. Lefkowitz, Duke University, 1985-1989
  • Ph.D. in neurological sciences, Université de Montréal, 1985
  • B.Sc. in biochemistry, Université de Montréal, 1979

Research support

  • Canadian Institutes for Health Research
  • Quebec Consortium on Drug Discovery
  • Genome Quebec
  • Fonds de Recherche du Québec en Santé (Québec-Canada-Europe integrative Genomics)
  • Canada Research Chair/Université de Montréal

Throughout his career as an investigator, Michel Bouvier has striven to reconcile basic and applied research, in an effort to understand the complex processes of cellular signalling and find applications for human health.

After his studies in biochemistry, Michel Bouvier earned a doctorate in neurological sciences, exploring the presynaptic control of the release of catecholamines, the neurotransmitters of the central and peripheral nervous systems, and the role of presynaptic control in hypertension and cardiac failure. During his postdoctoral training with Robert Lefkowitz at Duke University, he began to think about a subject that has continued to fascinate him: G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR), which are the drug targets of more than half of all medications prescribed today. While he was in the U.S., he studied post-translational modifications of GPCRs and participated in several major discoveries that were scientific firsts: the expression of GPCRs in a heterologous mammalian cell system, the discovery of the palmitylation of a GPCR, and the discovery of phosphorylation sites responsible for the desensitization of GPCRs.

In 1989, he returned to the Université de Montréal’s Department of Biochemistry, becoming its director in 1997 and continuing his research on cell signaling via GPCRs. His outstanding work with his colleagues includes the first demonstration of the existence of spontaneous constitutive activity in GPCRs and the discovery of inverse agonism at these receptors, as well as their oligomerization, which represent conceptual paradign changes with direct impact on molecular pharmacology. He also developed bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) assays that allow to study the dynamics of real time signalling in living cells. This work led to the development of many biosensors that are used for the identification of new drugs. More recently, his team played a pioneering role in the discovery of ligand-biased signalling and the pluri-dimensionality of signalling efficacy; two concepts that are changing our approach for the discovery on new drugs targeting GPCRs.

Working with his colleague Daniel Bichet, Michel Bouvier has also studied the molecular mechanisms of congenital nephrogenic diabetes, an orphan disease, and has quickly succeeded in proposing a clinically tested experimental solution. This discovery led to the development of the concept of pharmacological chaperones; a new drug class directed to the treatment of many genetic diseases. Michel Bouvier’s team now applies this approach for the development of a new treatment for hereditary severe obesity and its complications such as liver cancer.

Michel Bouvier believes that academic research plays an important role in society. He advocates research and development of new therapies in partnership with the private sector. As such, he also heads up a Université de Montreal based research group dedicated to research on medications, known by its acronym GRUM, for “Groupe de recherche universitaire sur le medicament”. He joined IRIC in 2005, where, along with his peers he contributed to the creation of , IRICoR; a not-for-profit organization that he now presides and which has the mission of accelerating the transfer of basic findings of IRIC’s scientists and collaborators into new treatments to cure cancer and related diseases. In 2014, he is classed on the 2014 list of the most highly cited scientists internationally according to Thomson Reuters.

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