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Research and Creation Award

The Research and Creation Prize recognizes the original nature of the recipient’s research or innovation work and aims to highlight a discovery, scientific publication, or significant creation work they have published during the calendar year preceding the competition.

This is awarded as part of the Research and Graduate Studies Celebration. Three prizes are awarded each year to UdeS professors. These prizes may be awarded to an individual or a team.

2023 Recipients

Richard Leduc and Pierre-Luc Boudreault

Medicine and Health Sciences

Fighting on enemy ground

When faced with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, several research teams sought to develop strategies to protect us from infection, limit transmission, or offer treatment options. It is in this context that three researchers from the Institut de pharmacologie de Sherbrooke, professors Richard Leduc, Pierre-Luc Boudreault, and the late Éric Marsault, partnered with research teams from the University of British Columbia and Cornell University to find innovative solutions.

Rather than attempting to confer immunity the same way as vaccines, the team’s approach was to directly block the virus from penetrating the host’s cells by targeting one of its proteins and not the virus itself, as is the case for the vast majority of antivirals on the market today. This approach has an enormous advantage, as it remains effective despite possible mutations of the virus.

In March 2022, the team demonstrated that treatment with N-0385, a bioactive molecule capable of inhibiting the enzymatic activity of the transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2), reduced COVID-19 infection. For the first time, a molecule targeted against a human enzyme has been shown to be effective in curbing SARS-CoV-2 infection, paving the way for the development of treatments to fight COVID-19.

It must be mentioned that this extraordinary discovery, published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, was achieved in the difficult context of lockdowns, during which the team had to deal with shortages of equipment and limited human resources, in addition to mourning the loss of an invaluable member of the team, Professor Éric Marsault.

Stefanos Kourtis

Natural Sciences and Engineering

Avoiding quantum pitfalls

The quantum state of a particle can be linked to that of another particle, regardless of the distance separating them. This is called quantum entanglement. In fact, entanglement between different parts of a system is a correlation that does not exist in our classical view of the world. For example, the measurement of one part of an entangled system can instantly influence the state of another part of the system over extremely long distances. Add to this Born’s rule which states that a measurement of a system in a state of quantum superposition reduces that same state to a non-quantum configuration. Furthermore, a partial measurement of a subset of the components of a quantum system diminishes the quantum character of a quantum state. How do these partial measurements of a quantum state influence its entanglement?

One answer to this question has driven the recent research of Professor Stefanos Kourtis. Thanks to his multidisciplinary expertise in quantum physics and complex systems, he formulated a theory of entanglement under partial measures of a quantum system. This theory was then verified experimentally using quantum computers.

In addition to being the subject of two prestigious scientific publications (in Nature and Physical Review Letters) drafted as part of the PhD degree of Jeremy Côté, under the supervision of Professor Kourtis, this work is a major step forward in the understanding and handling of this fascinating property of quantum entanglement. Who knows what marvels he will work on next?

Josée Vincent et Marie-Pier Luneau

Humanities and Social Sciences

Digging up stories from books

A privileged medium for the emancipation and dissemination of knowledge, the book in its many forms owes its existence to people from specialized trades, often jacks-of-all-trades, whose trajectories are as fascinating as they are unknown.

Some 400 life stories from New France to the present day are recounted in the Dictionnaire historique des gens du livre au Québec, a landmark work summarizing the history of books in Quebec and especially that of the people and institutions who have shaped the industry. To shed light on the stories of these passionate individuals, professors Josée Vincent and Marie-Pier Luneau led a Herculean task encompassing two decades of work, an army of researchers, multiple collaborations, and the collection of historical data that is just as impressive as it is relevant.

Quebec’s history literally unfolds before our eyes through the stories of these book lovers. This dictionary is a tremendous advance in knowledge, both nationally and internationally, of the history of books and publishing, a field in which the Université de Sherbrooke has established itself as a world leader.  Through this extraordinary achievement, the two professors are also paving the way for new research themes, such as the role of women and minority social groups in the world of books.