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news item News Monday, February 26, 2018 Monday, February 26, 2018 12:38 PM - Monday, February 26, 2018 12:38 PM

Introducing our new vice president of research programs

Marc Lalande, Ph.D.

We are pleased to welcome our new vice president of research programs for Shriners Hospitals for Children, Marc Lalande, Ph.D. Dr. Lalande comes to us from the University of Connecticut, where he served as the HealthNet professor and chair, Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, School of Medicine; director of the Stem Cell and Systems Genomics Institutes, and executive director of Genomics and Personalized Medicine programs. Previously, he was an associate professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston. While in Boston, he began researching molecular genetics of pediatric neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Lalande earned both his doctoral and master’s degrees in medical biophysics from the University of Toronto in Canada, and his undergraduate degree at Laurentian University – Sudbury, also in Canada.

Real world experience

Dr. Lalande has been interested in nature since childhood – wondering what’s in the sky and why animals behave as they do, and mulling over the infinite differences in people. This curiosity eventually led to the study of physics and biophysics. Interestingly, he never took an academic course in genetics – everything he learned was from a hands-on approach, especially in the laboratories. He has worked on separating chromosomes to learn more about genetic disorders, and his physics background made it possible for him to design an instrument that helped with this work.

“Understanding the genetics of a condition is the starting point – when you find one genetic answer, it is like a key that can lead to the discovery of new partner molecules, and then to a network of answers that can ultimately lead to new therapies,” said Dr. Lalande. “Genetics is complicated. For example, the cystic fibrosis gene was discovered in the 1980s, and we are just now seeing the development of therapies.”

Expanding research capabilities

As he begins to lead the research effort of Shriners Hospitals for Children, Dr. Lalande is “interested in enhancing the collaboration of the physicians and the scientists, and in advancing our research mission.”

Dr. Lalande believes that while people are aware of the medical work of our health care system, they are much less cognizant of our contributions to medical knowledge via research.

“My goal is to raise our research profile and promote our efforts in a more Shriners Hospitals-centric manner,” he said. He also hopes to encourage more multisite research efforts that involve several hospitals in a single endeavor. “What I hope to see is Shriners Hospitals labeled research with a national impact that combines the efforts of researchers and clinicians.”

While Dr. Lalande is enjoying his new role at Shriners Hospitals’ corporate headquarters in Tampa, Florida, he is experiencing a little bit of culture shock. “There is a big difference – especially in the temperatures and the traffic volume – between Tampa and Farmington, Connecticut,” he said with a smile.

Dr. Lalande and his wife, Christine, have been married for 43 years and have two grown children, Frederick and Alexia, whom they hope to entice to join them in Florida someday, and two grandchildren.

We are pleased to have Dr. Lalande on our team and look forward to his impact on our research program, which funded 166 projects in 2017.

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