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Research award created in honour of Quebec man who died of cancer shortly after becoming a father

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On Monday, Samaneh Poursaman and her 11-month-old daughter Nika walked the halls of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), once a home for them.

Nika lived there for the first two months of her life while her father, Sooran Noroozi, underwent treatment for sarcoma.

"It's not something that you ever imagined that your pregnancy and having your firstborn would look like, but this is life," Poursaman said.

Noroozi died in July, but his memory lives on through the Sooran Noroozi Sarcoma Research Award, which provides $10,000 to a young researcher.

"All the money that was raised for this award came through her and her effort, through our website to raise this money with her network," said Marie-Helene Laramee, the CEO of the MUHC Foundation.

The first recipient is Dr. Joseph Petruccelli, who has big plans to change how patients receive care.

"We're doing research with generative AI [artificial intelligence] in order to predict patient trajectories and figure out what are the future needs of our patients of today," Petruccelli said.

Two years ago, Noroozi was diagnosed with sarcoma, a painful cancer that affects bones and muscles.

His doctor at the time remembers the family's remarkable story.

"We've never had in this hospital a patient who was getting chemotherapy while his wife is delivering a baby," said Dr. Ramy Saleh, a medical oncologist. "Then, they live together on the floor of a cancer patient floor."

Noroozi was a chemical engineer who loved science. The award was presented on his birthday, and his wife is certain Sooran would be thrilled.

"He would quite like the way that we are celebrating now," Poursaman said. "The way that we are taking a step toward advancing science, which he was a big fan of."

Samaneh plans to raise money every year to be sure her husband's legacy lives on and to help other families fighting sarcoma.  

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