Dr. William Foulkes appointed JGH Director of Medical Genetics
Also named Director of Medical Genetics at MUHC
Dr. William Foulkes, an award-winning clinician-researcher in the Lady Davis Institute (LDI) at the JGH, has been appointed Director of the Division of Medical Genetics in the JGH’s Department of Medicine, effective January 1.
At the same time, Dr. Foulkes becomes Director of the Division of Medical Genetics at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). These new duties have been added to his leadership responsibilities as Chair of the Department of Human Genetics at McGill University.
Dr. Foulkes says medical genetics already contributes significantly in managing various conditions in fields such as oncology and obstetrics at the JGH. However, he feels many more patients will benefit if medical genetics plays a more active role in other medical specialties, such as respiratory medicine and gastroenterology.
“Genetics permeates all aspects of modern medicine and is fundamental to a thorough understanding of disease,” he adds.
For this reason, Dr. Foulkes is hoping his new and current positions at the JGH, the MUHC and McGill will enable him to make progress in “bringing the members of the respective groups closer together.
“There’s no magic formula for making this happen, but I hope to get us moving in the right direction by making everyone more keenly attuned to the pivotal role of medical genetics.”
Dr. Foulkes currently has laboratories at the LDI and at the Research Institute of the MUHC. At McGill, he holds a Distinguished James McGill Professorship in the Departments of Medicine, Oncology and Human Genetics, as well as the Alva Chair in the Department of Human Genetics.
He has also collaborated extensively with researchers around the world to advance the understanding of the inherited basis of various cancers, including breast, colorectal, prostate, pancreatic and ovarian cancer.
Dr. Foulkes is best known for his work in three areas: his early work on the clinico-pathological features of hereditary breast cancer; his discovery of a founder variant in various cancer susceptibility genes in Quebec populations; and, more recently, his characterization of DICER1 tumour predisposition syndrome, a rare mainly pediatric-onset genetic disorder.
In 2020, the Government of Quebec recognized Dr. Foulkes’s exceptional contributions by presenting him with the Prix Wilder-Penfield in the Prix du Quebec competition. In 2022, he received the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research from the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Foulkes has supervised numerous students and fellows, published more than 700 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the Royal College of Physicians in London, and the Royal Society of Canada.
Dr. David Rosenblatt is stepping down as JGH Chief of Medical Genetics, a position he has held since 1999, but he will continue as an active member of the division.