With a career marked by clinical expertise, sustained commitment to teaching and innovative work in research, the clinician-researcher and head professor of the Department of Medicine at the Université de Montréal André Lacroix received a beautiful tribute at the 40thand annual meeting of the Association of Physicians Endocrinologists of Quebec (AMEQ), May 27.
“This recognition means a lot to me because we are a small community of about 190 endocrinologists in Quebec. Most of them studied at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal and I taught many of them”, says the one who benefited from medical training and specialized in endocrinology in the UdeM network before continuing his research training for five years at the main American universities .
A pillar of the endocrinology department at the Center Hospitalier de la Université de Montréal (CHUM) and a researcher at the CHUM Research Center, André Lacroix shines locally, nationally and internationally for his expertise in pituitary-adrenal pathologies, including Cushing’s syndrome. His work contributed greatly to the understanding of the molecular and genetic mechanisms at the origin of tumors and adrenocortical hyperplasias.
“We knew that cortisol was produced by tumors independently of its pituitary hormone, but we didn’t know by what mechanism. With my team, we were the first to demonstrate in patients with these tumors the concept of ectopic hormone receptors that regulate cortisol or aldosterone secretion. This discovery made it possible to offer certain patients new pharmacological treatments aimed at blocking these receptors and reversing excess cortisol”, he summarizes.
Continuing his research in collaboration with other teams, he managed to discover, 30 years later, the gene responsible for the familial genetic forms of primary hyperplasia, paving the way for early genetic screening and prevention of the morbid effects of this disease.
Today, the center of expertise in pituitary-adrenal pathologies, which he helped to set up, stands out on the international stage and receives samples sent by numerous collaborators around the world.
Recognition that reflects on the next generation
Humanistic and considerate, the Dr Lacroix consciously prepares the next generation by supervising master’s and doctoral students as well as postdocs in endocrinology who want to acquire specific knowledge in adrenal pathology.
“I am always surrounded by senior residents and postdocs from Quebec or other countries. We see patients together, we discuss cases from a multidisciplinary point of view. For future caregivers, daily contact with rare disease patients is an asset,” she says.
After 42 years of career, Dr Lacroix still has the sacred fire: “I still have many things to learn and do, articles in preparation, research projects in progress. As long as I have the passion and health, I will continue to strive to improve the health of our patients and the education of students, as well as advance our understanding of the causes and treatments of these conditions.”