The MUHC Lupus Clinic recognizes dedicated staff and fundraisers

Front Row: Drs. Evelyn Vinet, Ann Clarke and Christian Pineau. Back Row: Dr. Emil Nashi. Missing: Dr. Sasha Bernatsky

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Lupus Clinic, located at the Montreal General Hospital (MGH), is dedicated to providing outstanding patient care and conducting world-class research.

The clinical team is co-directed by Drs. Ann Clarke and Christian Pineau, and includes Drs. Sasha Bernatsky, Evelyn Vinet and Emil Nashi. They attribute their accomplishments to the leadership of invaluable staff and the fundraising efforts of key volunteers.

In the year 2000, Rita and Ronald Singer created The Singer Family Fund for Lupus Research at the MGH as an initiative to support the MUHC Lupus Clinic. The need for more lupus research partnered with a close and personal relationship to the disease was motivation enough for them to take action. Their yearly direct mail campaign to friends and acquaintances continues to form the pillars of this fund today.

The MGH Foundation saw the merit in The Singer’s work from day one, and has matched every dollar raised. With their support, over one million dollars have been made available to the lupus clinic. 

The lupus team uses these funds to compile and maintain an extensive patient database that has grown from 200 to over 600 patients since 1990, making it the second largest of its kind in Canada. 

The Singer Fund has also made this clinic a very competitive research entity at an international level. Researchers affiliated with the MUHC Lupus Clinic have secured 2.4 million dollars in funding from Federal granting agencies such as the CIHR in Canada and the NIH in the U.S.A.

“Words can’t begin to convey the gratitude that we as clinicians, and our patients, feel toward the undying dedication of The Singers and The Shoubs,” says Dr. Clarke. “Their boundless energy to organize these fundraising activities and their continual support of our activities is so deeply appreciated.”

In 2004, Michele Tobaly joined the Lupus Clinic team in the role of Research Coordinator. “Michele leads our research arm, and supervises a strong research team. Her initiative, organizational skills, efficiency, and tremendous interpersonal skills have enabled us to collaborate in worldwide lupus research studies,” says Dr. Clarke. “She goes those many extra miles.”

Tobaly devotes much of her time and energy (and heart and soul) to fundraising activities. Soon after her arrival, she began organizing fundraising events, including the ‘Midi Musical’ and ‘TLC – The Lupus Concert’. 

When MUHC Lupus Clinic patient Lillian and her husband Hyman Shoub approached Tobaly with a fundraising proposal to hold bazaars at the MGH to benefit the MUCH Lupus Clinic, she embraced the opportunity. The bazaars—which are now bi-yearly events—provide an integral source of funding and have become part of the landscape of the MGH. At the helm is Tobaly, now Project Manager, tying it all together. 

Excellent, compassionate care is not the only thing The Shoubs, The Singers, and people living with lupus receive from the lupus clinic. All of these funds raised are also helping advance research across the globe. For example, Drs. Bernatsky and Clarke are spearheading research on malignancy in lupus that involves over 40 lupus centres.