Dr. Robert Patenaude, spokesperson for the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal, is the winner of the Gens de cœur contest presented by Radio-Canada. His exceptional contribution to IRIC and the advocacy of cancer research is being recognized by this contest that pays tribute to volunteers throughout the province of Quebec. As the winner of the contest, Dr. Patenaude receives 20,000$ that he will donate to IRIC.

Dr. Claude Perreault, IRIC Principal Investigator and the doctor who treated Robert Patenaude when he was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 21, submitted his application to the contest, “Robert is well-deserving of this recognition by Gens de Coeur. He is a generous volunteer dedicated to making a real difference in his community. His exceptional devotion to the advancement of knowledge, to the health of the community and to the pursuit of excellence in cancer research make him a brilliant spokesperson and ambassador for IRIC. The Institute could not dream of a more passionate and devoted volunteer such as Robert Patenaude. This honor confirms what we at IRIC already know: Robert is a man of heart and action, and we are proud to have him on our team!”

Robert Patenaude dedicated this honor to his mother who is currently battling brain cancer: “I have been advocating for cancer research for 30 years now. It’s a cause dear to my heart because I am convinced that I am alive today because of the progresses of research. However, there is still a long road ahead before we completely eradicate this disease. It is for this reason and also to honor the daily battle of patients like my mom that I continue on with this work.”

The contest’s sponsor, Manulife Financial, awarded $20,000 to the winner’s organization of choice. Robert Patenaude has chosen to give this amount to IRIC, in addition to the $1,000 donation received as a finalist in the contest. 100% of this donation will be invested in cancer research at IRIC. “I am proud to be associated with IRIC and the tremendous work of its researchers. This week, we launched the 2011 edition of the Perseverance Challenge, our annual sporting event to raise funds for the Institute. I am therefore very happy to offer the $21,000 to this fundraiser. What a great way to kick off our campaign!” concludes Dr. Patenaude.

This is the first edition of the Gens de cœur contest. A jury selected ten finalists from over 300 applications received. The public then voted for its volunteer of choice. The results were announced on April 8 during the television show Pour le plaisir broadcast on Radio-Canada.

About Robert Patenaude
In 1981, Robert Patenaude was a medical student at the Université de Montréal when he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid cancer, an incurable cancer at the time. With only a few months to live, hematologist Claude Perreault, now a researcher at IRIC, performed an innovative procedure at the time: a bone marrow transplant. Today, Robert Patenaude enjoys a healthy and active life. A sailing enthusiast and an avid cyclist, he is an emergency physician at the Centre hospitalier Honoré-Mercier in Saint-Hyacinthe. He is also the author of several published titles including Surviving Leukemia, in which he details his personal struggle with the illness. Since 2007, Robert Patenaude has been acting as IRIC’s spokesperson and his fundraising activities have generated over $1.25 million in donations. He organizes the Perseverance Challenge, a yearly fundraising campaign where 100% of the funds raised are invested in cancer research at IRIC. To support Robert Patenaude in the 2011 Perseverance Challenge: old.iric.ca/DefiPerseverance/index_EN.html

Carolyne Lord
IRIC | Université de Montréal