It was with a deep sense of gratitude that the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation announced today a historic $40-million gift from Diane Blais and Michel Lanteigne, the biggest-ever donation to a Quebec hospital. Dedicated to the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, this transformative gift, a portion of which will be earmarked for pediatric oncology research, will have a major and immediate impact to accelerate the pace of scientific discoveries.
This extraordinary philanthropic gesture is made in memory of Mr. Lanteigne’s son, Benoit, who died of leukemia in 1989 at the age of eight. The donors are driven by a desire to have a powerful, tangible and, above all, timely impact on the lives of children and their families. A portion of this gift will create the Innovative Oncology and Hematology Treatment Development Fund, supporting important work that begins today thanks to their generosity. In grateful recognition of this contribution, the Specialized Care Building at the CHU Sainte-Justine will be renamed in honour of Benoit Lanteigne.
A lot of careful, deliberate thought went into choosing Sainte-Justine as the recipient of this donation. It was a decision we made both with our heads, given the scientific excellence the institution is known for, and with our hearts, because we saw in this team a genuine conviction and tremendous sense of humanity. We hope and expect that the outcomes will rapidly benefit families with a child who is battling cancer. We want to see results in our lifetime, and we believe this is the team that can make it happen.
Ms. Blais and Mr. Lanteigne
The Innovative Oncology and Hematology Treatment Development Fund is the brainchild of Drs. Sonia Cellot, Michel Duval, and Elie Haddad, working closely with Dr. Jacques L. Michaud, Director of the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre. It will facilitate the emergence of leading-edge treatments and accelerate the bench-to-bedside journey. The repercussions of this long-awaited and greatly needed funding promise to be profound. Even today, the survival rate for children with cancer is barely over 80%. Every year in Quebec, nearly 350 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer.
With the advent of ground-breaking, technology-driven developments such as genomics, genome editing, stem cell engineering, small-molecule library screening, and artificial intelligence, we can now explore new treatments with the potential to transform how we care for young cancer patients. Ms. Blais and Mr. Lanteigne’s donation will enable scientists to capitalize on the opportunities arising from these technologies to step up our efforts in the fight against cancer, for children across Quebec and around the world.
Dr. Jacques L. Michaud
A true global medical revolution is underway, and Sainte-Justine is one of the institutions leading the charge. Caroline Barbir, President and CEO of CHU Sainte-Justine, appreciates the power of this gift to advance care and research in order to build a healthier future for the generations of today and tomorrow.
By spearheading these efforts within our institution, we will be putting Quebec children first in line to benefit from these novel treatments. This life-changing donation is particularly meaningful given the donors’ own history. We are incredibly grateful, and will do everything we can to deliver swift, transformative solutions for children and families living with cancer. Sainte-Justine and the children of Quebec are being given a wonderful gift today. My sincere thanks go out to Ms. Blais and Mr. Lanteigne.
Philanthropy has been embedded in Sainte-Justine’s DNA from day one. The hospital was established 115 years ago by two visionary Quebecers with the support of the community. Today, philanthropy endures as the foundation upon which Sainte-Justine continues to build on its tradition of excellence.
With their donation, Ms. Blais and Mr. Lanteigne will be leaving a lasting legacy, both here at Sainte-Justine and for the Francophone community’s philanthropic story. This is a turning point in terms of fostering a culture of giving back in Quebec. Today, the paths of our scientific ambitions and our philanthropic dreams are uniting to create meaningful change in the world.
Donors, medical teams, and research professionals are unified in embracing a mission to ensure a healthy future awaits children like Jacob, who is in remission from the leukemia that was treated with a novel therapy. His parents have greeted this announcement with great hope.
If Jacob had been born 15 years earlier, his chances of surviving the rare type of leukemia he has wouldn’t have been more than 40%. Research has bumped it to 80%. He was able to receive a novel treatment as part of a clinical trial, saving him from having to undergo a bone marrow transplant, which used to be the only alternative. Just knowing that other families will benefit from these new treatment options, all of which have been made possible through research, is a huge source of relief for us.