Pierre Etienne

Pierre Etienne


6875 Boulevard Lasalle
Montréal, QC
H4H 1R3

(514) 761-6131 x3943

(514) 888-4612

Research area: 
Clinical Research / Human Research

Research Theme: 
Ageing, Cognition and Alzheimer's disease

Co-Director, Prevent-AD Program

Prevention of Alzheimer's disease

We monitor healthy volunteers at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease to understand and eventually correct the changes that precede the emergence of clinical symptoms and clinical signs associated with their conversion to "mild cognitive impairment" and eventually, dementia.

-Understanding of the kinetics of amino-acid transport across the blood –brain barrier: Etienne, P., Young, S.N. and Sourkes, T.L. (1976). Inhibition by albumin of tryptophan uptake by rat brain. Nature 262:144-145.
-First attempt in North America with treating Alzheimer’s disease with a cholinergic intervention: Etienne, P., Gauthier, S., Johnson, G., Collier, B., Mendis, T., Dastoor, D., Cole, M. and Muller, H.F. (1977). Clinical effects of Choline in Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet 1:508-509.

After obtaining his medical degree in Belgium (Université de Liège) in 1972, Pierre Etienne moved to McGill University, where he did postgraduate work in neurochemistry in Theodore Sourkes’ laboratory.
From 1978 to 1983, he directed an MRC (Canadian Medical Research Council – now CHIR) program grant on the biochemical, physiological and neuropathological basis of Alzheimer's disease that was focused on the cholinergic hypothesis.
After a brief passage in experimental medicine at Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis), he went back to McGill in 1987, dividing his time between the Montreal Neurological Institute (brain imaging studies) and the Allan Memorial Institute (clinical studies with serotonergic agents).
In 1989 he joined Pfizer as Director of Experimental Medicine, responsible for all Phase 2 A programs for US and Japan discovered compounds. In 1992 he became responsible for the entire early development program at Pfizer (Phase 1 and Phase 2A) for US and Japan discovered compounds. He was a team leader for the early development of a several compounds such as Ziprasidone (Geodon), the SP antagonist program and CP 118991, Pfizer’s answer to what was to become Aricept. In 2000 he became Vice President, Development Operations, Pfizer Global Research and Development, responsible for the execution of all Pfizer full development clinical programs world wide.
In 2003, he took early retirement from Pfizer to join PhageTech, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company based in Montreal, Canada. PhageTech exploited a proprietary platform based on phage-bacterial intracellular interactions to research and develop new classes of synthetic antibiotics. The PhageTech platform was abandoned and the company found a second life as Targanta Therapeutics when it secured a license to develop oritavancin, a vancomycin-like agent that had been discovered by Eli Lilly and licensed to InterMune. Targanta Therapeutics went public on NASDAQ (TARG) in the summer of 2008 and presented oritavancin to an FDA advisory committee in October 2008, only to receive a split vote which forced the sale of the company to The Medicines Company (MEDCO) of New Jersey in January 2009.
In December 2009, he started a new life as a physician at the Douglas Institute. In July 2011, he was appointed Director of the Clinical Research Division. He is co-Director of the Alzheimer’s disease prevention program (Stop-AD).

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  • Douglas Hospital
  • Dobell Pavillion
  • Brain imaging centre