New Canada Excellence Research Chair Aims to Reduce Impact of Mental Disorders on Youth

Renowned researcher, Dr. Pierre Marquet, is working to identify vulnerability biomarkers by using neurophotonics

December 14, 2015—Quebec City, Quebec—Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat

Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced the appointment of Dr. Pierre Marquet as the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Neurophotonics at the Université Laval. Minister Duncan was accompanied by her colleagues the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and Joël Lightbound, Member of Parliament for Louis-Hébert. Dr. Marquet, who has come to Canada from the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, becomes the 25th Canada Excellence Research Chair holder and the seventh CERC in Quebec.

As the CERC in Neurophotonics, Dr. Marquet will combine the disciplines of photonics and psychiatry in groundbreaking research to examine brain cells and tissues non-invasively, so as to determine youths’ susceptibility to developing psychiatric disorders. Using optical technologies, Dr. Marquet will identify biomarkers for psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and major depression, to help doctors to diagnosis these disorders earlier.

Minister Duncan also announced the appointment of Dr. Réal Vallée as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)’s Coractive-TeraXion-LaserAX-TLCL Industrial Research Chair in Femtosecond Photo-inscribed Photonic Components and Devices. As director of Laval’s Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, Dr. Vallée will continue his work in partnership with industry to improve new ultrafast laser-based components to enhance telecommunications systems and manufacturing processes.

While at the Université Laval, Minister Duncan joined by her colleagues Minister Duclos and Mr. Lightbound, took the opportunity to tour the Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers, which received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to purchase specialized equipment to support Dr. Marquet’s research. The Center provides Drs. Marquet and Vallée with the world-class labs and equipment they need to make groundbreaking discoveries.

Quick Facts

  • The Université Laval will receive more than $27 million to support its newest CERC. The Government of Canada is providing up to $10 million over seven years through the CERC program and nearly $800,000 through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
  • With the announcement, there are now 25 chairs in place at 17 universities across Canada.
  • The Université Laval is receiving $2.3 million in total funding to support the new NSERC Industrial Research Chair in photonics. Of this total, NSERC is providing almost $995,000 with the remaining funds coming from the Université Laval and industry partners.
  • The CERC program aims to position Canada as an international leader and destination of choice for research and development, and to attract and retain world-leading researchers.
  • NSERC Industrial Research Chairs are nominated by universities to address important industry needs in partnership with the private sector. Chairholders also provide an enhanced research-industry training environment for graduate students.
  • The Canada Foundation for Innovation supports state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and not-for-profit research institutions to help attract the world’s top talent and train the next generation of researchers.
  • The Government of Canada is committed to supporting a science ecosystem that will attract and retain world-class scientists working for a better tomorrow and towards impactful discoveries.


“The innovative research conducted by Dr. Pierre Marquet and Dr. Réal Vallée in their respective fields has the potential to provide important economic, scientific and social benefits to Canada. Today’s announcement demonstrates the government’s strong commitment to science and to making Canada the destination of choice for the world’s leading researchers.”

—The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“Support for science will be an essential pillar of the government's strategy and will help create sustainable economic growth and attract some of the world’s leading minds. Dr. Marquet’s presence on the Université Laval’s campus will strengthen its position as a leader in photonics research.”

—The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

“Mental health issues affect every level of society. With the arrival of Dr. Pierre Marquet, Canada is gaining an exceptional researcher with innovative, groundbreaking insights. His appointment at Université Laval promises to put the university at the forefront of the exciting new field of neurophotonics.”

—Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Chair, CERC Steering Committee

“As we mark the end of the International Year of Light, NSERC is proud to announce support for two leading researchers at Université Laval who have built a strong Centre of Excellence in Photonics. Their work will further Canada’s leadership position in both foundational and applied aspects of photonics.”

—B. Mario Pinto, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

“With the emergence of our sector of excellence unique to Canada, Dr. Pierre Marquet is boosting Université Laval’s international leadership in neurophotonics by leading a highly interdisciplinary research project that combines cutting-edge optics, nanotechnologies, neuroscience and psychiatry in order to better understand the brain and its mysteries, and to help people.”

—Denis Brière, Rector, Université Laval

Additional Links

More About the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program

Biography of Pierre Marquet

Spotlight on Pierre Marquet

Biography of Réal Vallée


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