The RNA Revolution | Dossiers | McGill University

The RNA Revolution

Decades of research dedicated to RNA science made the rapid development and roll-out of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines possible. McGill University played a crucial role in this history of innovation — and more breakthroughs are on the horizon.

Together with our world-leading capacities in genomic science, McGill’s researchers are developing new RNA-based treatments for a range of diseases alongside a global community of scientists. The University is ensuring these therapies protect human health for all by engaging with diverse populations, Indigenous communities, and vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.

Here is a look at McGill’s game-changing research and the people behind the science.

Developing the Medicines of the Future

The global pandemic introduced the world to a new form of vaccines composed of “messenger RNA” (mRNA) which harness the flow of genetic information (RNA or DNA) to treat the root cause of disease. The success of the mRNA vaccines, and the speed of their deveopment, is one example how RNA discovery can revolutionize medicine.

At McGill, diverse and talented research teams are working to understand the role of RNA across different fields, including biology, chemistry, and biomedical sciences. Our researchers are investigating how new RNA-based therapies can treat a variety of diseases, including SARS-CoV-2, cancer and more.

Supporting Canada's biomanufacturing ecosystem

Revitalizing Canada’s biopharmaceutical industry is an urgent priority. Together with industry and government, McGill is working to build a nexus of RNA-based drug manufacturing in Canada. Scientific expertise, a strong history of start-ups in health research, and countless collaborations with companies including Moderna, Merck, Lilly, Novartis, Roche, Astra-Zeneca, GSK, Takeda, Pfizer, Vertex and Janssen, and others, make McGill an ideal partner in Canada’s drive to develop talent and grow our domestic biomanufacturing capacity.

Health equity through innovation and collaboration

With the promise of new therapies comes the responsibility to achieve diverse representation in research and equitable access to the fruits of that research. McGill is committed to meaningful engagement, improved transparency, and robust systems of accountability. Our priority is to create opportunities that promote and support equity-seeking populations, including Canada’s Indigenous communities, and vulnerable groups such as the elderly.