Research Interests

Marie-Claude Rousseau

Since 2005, I have been leading a research program in chronic disease epidemiology at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, an academic institution dedicated to graduate training and research. I have authored 67 publications, and presented 116 abstracts in national and international conferences. Since I began my career, I have obtained 2.5M$ as a principal investigator or co-PI, and 11M$ as a co-investigator. I have been the recipient of several fellowships and salary awards, amounting to 1M$. My research program is articulated around two themes:

1)     Studying factors that can modulate the immune response and their role on the development of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases;

2)     Studying lifestyle and environmental exposures in relation to cancer risk.

Over the last 12 years, I designed an epidemiological research program aiming at studying the association between nonspecific immune stimulation at an early age, as resulting from Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, and the development of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. I have published a qualitative review of the literature on potential and unintended health effects of BCG immunization [Rousseau et al., Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2008], and a meta-analysis on BCG immunization and childhood asthma occurrence [El-Zein et al., Int J Epidemiol 2010]. I obtained an infrastructure grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to computerize the Quebec BCG Vaccination Registry, covering provincial vaccination records from the 1920s to the mid-1990s. I secured funding from CIHR to describe BCG vaccination rates in the province of Quebec [Rousseau et al., Vaccine 2017]. I assessed the quality of data from the computerized BCG vaccination Registry, and the feasibility of performing linkage with existing health administrative databases [Rousseau et al., BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2014].
I then set up the first phase of the Quebec Birth Cohort on Immunity and Health (QBCIH, n=81,496). The cohort was established by linkage of demographic and health administrative databases to study asthma and diabetes. In partnership with Statistics Quebec, we performed data collection in a subset of subjects, and demonstrated the validity of this two-stage sampling approach [El-Zein et al., Epidemiol 2016]. In 2015, we were funded to expand the QBCIH to individuals born from 1970 to 1974 (400,611 subjects), allowing us to investigate risk factors for lymphoma and multiple sclerosis. This research infrastructure now enables my team to conduct powerful longitudinal studies with several decades of follow-up, large sample sizes, and very importantly, the strength of population-based data. ]. I have conducted studies on BCG vaccination in relation to asthma [El-Zein et al., Am J Epidemiol 2017] and to diabetes [Rousseau et al., Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2016]. Under my supervision, members of my team have analyzed early life exposures (e.g., pet ownership, perinatal factors) in relation to disease risk [presentations at international conferences, manuscripts in preparation]. A manuscript on the validity of the data collection strategy within the QBCIH [El-Zein et al., Epidemiol 2016] and another on determinants of BCG vaccination in Quebec [Li et al., Prev Med 2014] have also been published.

Most of my research activities within the second theme are in collaboration with of Dr Parent and other members of the research team, I have participated in large scale projects on lifestyle and occupational exposures in the etiology of lung cancer. Within these projects, I have supervised students on a variety of topics including lifestyle, medical conditions and workplace exposures in relation to cancer risk.

I have cumulated several important contributions in this research area. I participated in an exhaustive review of occupational carcinogens [Siemiatycki et al., Environ Health Perspect 2004; Rousseau et al., Environ Health Perspect 2005]. Highly cited, these articles are used as reference papers by health and safety officers in many countries (e.g. UK Health and Safety Executives) and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Groups as reference papers. I have also focused on cancer risk related to specific occupational carcinogens, such as lead compounds [Rousseau et al., Am J Epidemiol 2007; Wynant et al., Occ Env Med 2013], formaldehyde [Mahboubi et al., Scan J Work Env Health 2013], cotton dust [Christensen et al., BMC Cancer. 2015], asbestos & man-made vitreous fibers [Pintos et al., J Occup Environ Med 2009; Pintos et al., J Occup Environ Med 2008], and diesel & gasoline emissions [Parent et al., Am J Epidemiol 2007]. As well, I have actively participated in projects on work circumstances such as night work [Parent et al., Am J Epidemiol 2012], stress [Parent et al., BMC Public Health, submitted], and physical activity [Parent et al., Cancer Epidemiol 2011].

I have been involved in several analyses on prostate cancer, mostly relating to lifestyle and medical conditions. We have published on allergic diseases [Weiss et al., Cancer Epidemiol 2014], sexual behaviour [Spence et al., Cancer Epidemiol 2014], and circumcision [Spence et al., BJU Int 2014] in relation to prostate cancer risk.

Finally, I have made substantial contributions to knowledge on the epidemiology of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Both my MSc and PhD work were related to cervical HPV infections. My doctoral work focused on the epidemiology of cervical coinfections by different types of HPV. I described the occurrence of HPV coinfections [Rousseau et al., Sex Transm Dis 2003], the dynamics of infections between different HPV types [Franco et al., J Infect Dis 1999; Rousseau et al., J Infect Dis 2001], and identified risk factors for HPV coinfections [Rousseau et al., Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2003]. I also studied risk factors for incident oncogenic and nononcogenic cervical HPV infections [Rousseau et al., Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2000]. Results were published in high impact journals and are highly cited. I co-wrote a book chapter on detection techniques for HPV [Rousseau & Franco, 2003, Papillomavirus Humains, Éditions médicales internationales, Paris].

More recently, I have investigated the role of HPV infection and sexual behaviour in head & neck cancers (HNC) with some postdoctoral and doctoral trainees that I co-supervised with Dr. Nicolau [Laprise et al., Int J Cancer. 2016; Farsi et al., Cancer Epidemiol. 2015]. I am co-Principal Investigator with her for a cohort study on the natural history of oral premalignant lesions (CIHR) and a case-control study on the role of HPV (alpha genus) in the etiology of HNC (MDEIE). In 2013, we have organized an international workshop (CIHR) which was attended by 40 of our collaborators from 6 different countries. I am also a co-investigator on Dr. Nicolau’s case-control study on the etiology of HNC (CIHR). In the context of these research projects, we have co-supervised several students working on HNC (3 MSc, 2 PhD, 2 postdocs), and I have been a member of the supervisory committee for another three students that she supervises. The proposed project is in seamless continuity with our previous collaborations.

I have given several invited presentations on HPV and cancer, most notably three in Brazil, at the International Center for Research, A.C. Camargo Cancer Center (São Paulo, July 7, 2015), and at the HPV Institute, Instituto de Pesquisas da Santa Casa de São Paulo (São Paulo, March 25-26, 2013). I also was an external reviewer for a report published by Institut national de santé publique du Québec on HPV-associated cancers in Quebec (2013).