Dr. Robert Koenekoop, M.D., PhD, FARVO

Director of McGill Ocular Genetics Laboratory and the Retinitis Pigmentosa Clinic, Chief Pediatric Ophthalmologist


Dr. Jean Deschenes, M.D., FRCSC

Clinical Neurophysiologist and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at McGill University Health Center

Dr. Deschênes is professor of ophthalmology at McGill University. He set up a practice center for seeing patients in ocular immunology dealing with uveitis, external disease, and cornea. In teaching, a new section of ophthalmology, concerning ocular immunology and uveitis, was set up, a facility that was unique in Quebec and Canada.

Ocular immunology has become an important part of the program for teaching clinical care and research. In addition to his work at McGill and its hospitals, Dr. Deschênes is an active member of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, the Association des médecins ophtalmologistes du Québec as president and the International Uveitis Study Group. He is the Vice-Chair of the Central Executive Committee of the MUHC Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CPDP) and President of the RVH/Glen local CPDP.


Dr. Irma Lopez, PhD.

Research associate/Team leader, McGill Ocular Genetics Laboratory

Dr. Irma Lopez is a research associate at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, where Irma leads the Ocular Genetics Lab. Her main interest is to find the genes that cause the disease for blind patients to lead to treatment for blindness. Irma started working with Dr. Robert Koenekoop at the research institute of the Montreal Children’s Hospital since 2001. Irma obtained her MSc in Biochemistry from National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1988 and she continued her studies at Laval University, Quebec in 1991, where she obtained her PhD in physiology with a strong background in molecular biology. Irma is certified for Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and Good Clinical Practice (GCP). Irma is happy to have the chance to see the full process from seeing the patient, discover the gene and see the patient get treatment.


Norma Fajardo, M.Sc.

Clinical Activities Specialist

Norma obtained her BSc. in Biochemistry from National University of Mexico. She continued her education and obtained her MSc. in Physiology from Laval University in 1995. Norma decided to pursue her studies and obtained a second Masters in Molecular Biology at Laval University in 1998. She worked in a special project between Canada (Physical Education Program in Quebec) and Mexico (National Institute of Nutrition). She has worked as a Teacher for several years. Norma joined Dr. Koenekoop’s team in 2014 as a laboratory research assistant. She works today as Clinical Activities Assistant where she overlooks many different ongoing projects. Norma has several publications in International journals.


Raquel Beneish, MSc.


Raquel (Kelly) Beneish graduated in Orthoptics in 1974 at Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg (France) and immigrated to Canada in 1975. She obtained a BSc in biology from Concordia University in 1979. A few years later, she obtained her MSc in physiology from McGill University in 1988. She has held numerous positions within her professional associations including that of translator for both the Quebec Orthoptic Association and the Canadian Orthoptic Society (1976 to 1987) and continued translating the Canadian National Board exams until 2015 for the Canadian Orthoptic Council (COC).

In 1987, Raquel was elected President of the Canadian Orthoptic Society and was appointed to the position of Examiner by COC in 1988, a position she held for 30 years. In 2003, she was the first orthoptist to be nominated to the position of Chief Examiner, a position she held until 2006. She has held a faculty position at McGill University since 1990 as an assistant professor. She has 20 publications in peer reviewed journals and 102 presentations to her credit including clinical and basic research papers at National and International conferences. She was an abstract editor for the American Orthoptic Journal (2001 -2006) and reviewed numerous papers for different journals.


Connie Pham


Connie studied photography in college. She started working as an ophthalmic technician as a summer job and never left the ophthalmology field. She has been in this field for over a decade so far. In addition to her educational experience, Connie is currently working as a certified ophthalmic photographer who uses highly specialized imaging equipment to take inner pictures of the eye and its structures. She has a vast knowledge of performing ICG angiography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, electroretinography, and external photography. These images allow doctors to diagnose, monitor and treat disorders or diseases of the eye.


Mona Hijazi, BSc.


Mona graduated as a licensed Orthoptist from the University of Medicine, France in 1987. She received Board Certification from the Canadian Orthoptics Council and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society in 2008. Mona has over 30 years of experience in Orthoptic studies including ocular motility and visual development. She works closely with ophthalmologists in providing care for adults and children.

Mona has worked as an Orthoptist in France, Lebanon, and Canada. She worked at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital and she is currently employed at the McGill University Health Center in Montreal. Mona is also an Ophthalmic Photographer. She is certified in Microperimetry, DAC, ERG, FST, Static Perimetry, Kinetic Perimetry, SD, OCT, and FAF. She works as an active member of Dr. Koenekoop’s research team.

She is a member of several organizations including: The Orthoptist French Association, The Canadian Orthoptics Council and from 2005-2008 she served as a representative of the Orthoptics of Quebec in the Canadian Council.


Gaëla Cariou-Panier


Gaëla is an orthoptist with a diploma from the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse (France) in 1999. She perfects herself by obtaining, in 2003, a university degree in Refraction and in 2005, in Basse-Vision. In 2013, she immigrated to Quebec, Canada. Gaëla passed her Canadian Orthoptie Certificate in 2014. She has been working at the Montreal Children’s Hospital in Montreal. She also collaborates at the St-Justine’s Hospital and Maisonneuve Rosemont. In 2016, she joined Dr Koenekoop’s research team where she obtained various certifications as a photographer. For these studies, she is responsible for several tests: BCVA, refraction, LLVA, Contrast vision, Maia, VF and DAC.

Gaëla is a preceptor in a program, the PIFO (Francophone Orthoptist Integration Program), which trains Francophone orthoptists who arrive in Quebec to fill the shortage of this profession. She is also a member of the Association des Orthoptists du Québec, The Canadian Orthoptist Society and the Canadian Orthoptic Council.


Glenda Vargas


Glenda is a technician ophthalmologist working with adults and children since 2008. She has trained to do OCT’s Humphreys, visual acuity and others test at the Montreal Eye Clinic. She is presently coordinating the study “Fighting Blindness Canada Inherited Retinal Degeneration Registry”.


To be advised



Uzziel Tamon


Uzziel is the Information Technologist and Medical Archives coordinator at The Children’s Clinic and Brunswick Medical Center. Data manager as well as Analyst for several research projects at the Centre for Innovative Medicine at the McGill University Health Center in Montreal.

Uzziel was born and raised in Cameroon. He lived in Denmark and Sweden before moving to Montreal. He studied Computer systems Networking Telecommunications with emphasis on Cisco Networking at the Gate Inc University, Bamenda Cameroon. He works as a member of Dr. Koenekoop’s research team. He is the unmasked photographer for MP, OCT & FAF, FP and BCVA. He is also working on a project that evaluates the Sudden Unexpected Death in Epileptic Patients.


Genetics Team

Laurence Baret

Laurence has been a Genetic Counsellor in the Adult Genetics Program in the Department of Medical Genetics at the MUHC since 2015. Prior to joining the MUHC, she worked in prenatal diagnosis and cancer genetics at the Jewish General Hospital. She received a Master of Arts in Bioethics in 2008 at Université de Montréal and a Master of Science degree in Genetic Counselling from University of Toronto in 2013. Laurence is a Lecturer in the Department of Human Genetics at McGill University as well as a clinical supervisor to graduated and genetic residents and fellows.

As a genetic counsellor, Laurence provides comprehensive genetic counselling consultations to individuals and families with a history of a genetic condition. Laurence sees patient with diverse genetic conditions at her General Adult Genetic Counselling clinics. She is also involved in the following specialty clinics:

  • Oculargenetics (inherited retinal dystrophies)
  • Cardiogenetics
  • Ashkenazi Jewish Screening Program for Tay-Sachs disease, Familial Dysautonomia and Canavan Disease
  • Huntington predictive testing Genetic Counselling Program
  • Neurogenetics (telehealth clinics with Abitibi)
  • Cancer genetics



Special thanks to Mr. Jonathan Bedard, for his time and dedication to creating and managing the McGill Ocular Genetics Laboratory website.


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