Major investment in top talent in ALS research

Toronto, ON, Nov. 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) and Brain Canada are powering innovative discoveries and treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) through exciting new research funding. Together they are investing a total of $390,000 to support three doctoral awards and one postdoctoral fellowship. These projects will build on existing knowledge of the biological processes that lead to the onset and progression of ALS and explore new therapeutic targets and a possible treatment strategy for ALS.

“Being able to move the needle on ALS research means supporting the brightest minds that will be a key component of labs focused on improving the lives of people and families living with ALS,” says Dr. David Taylor, Vice President Research and Strategic Partnerships, ALS Canada. “While there are always more researchers out there than we’re able to support in each granting cycle, the ALS Canada Research Program is committed to seeding projects and people that demonstrate exceptional promise, and we do as much as we can with the generous support of our donors and partners.”

“Brain Canada aims to foster a robust research talent pipeline by supporting trainees and early-career researchers through tailored programs that encourage investigators to pursue new research avenues,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, Brain Canada President and CEO. “The 2022 Trainee Award competition is helping to attract, retain, and diversify world-class talent in Canadian brain research, thus leading to better health outcomes for all.”

To date, the ALS Society of Canada – Brain Canada partnership has resulted in more than $24 million being invested in a wide range of research projects that have helped further the study of the disease.

Since 2005, ALS Canada has awarded grants to PhD students and postdoctoral fellows contributing in significant ways to labs across Canada, ensuring that talented researchers are supported to tackle key questions to better understand this relentless disease. The awards provide funding stability for labs by supporting trainee salaries.

The funding of the doctoral awards and postdoctoral fellowship follows a competitive peer-review process, in which ALS experts consider the merit of the applicant, the quality of the project, and the potential to advance the field of ALS research.
              

Summary of 2022 Doctoral Awards

Does this newly discovered tag on TDP-43 have an important role in ALS? Lucia Meng Qi Liao, a PhD student in Dr. Dale Martin’s lab at the University of Waterloo, awarded $75,000

How do ALS-linked genes contribute to the loss of normal stress granule formation? Charlotte Manser, a PhD student in Dr. Derrick Gibbing’s lab at the University of Ottawa, awarded $75,000

How does tRNA function contribute to ALS disease processes? Donovan McDonald, a PhD student in Dr. Martin Duennwald’s lab at Western University, awarded $75,000

Summary of 2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Could neuronal reprogramming serve as a potential treatment strategy for ALS? Dr. Hussein Ghazale, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Carol Schuurmans’s lab at Sunnybrook Research Institute, awarded $165,000

Funding for the 2022 Postdoctoral Fellowship was made possible by Fondation Vincent Bourque, who generously contributed $82,500 to ALS Canada, which was matched by Brain Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF).

The CBRF is an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada Foundation, which increases Canadians’ support for brain research and expands the philanthropic space for funding brain research to achieve maximum impact. To date, Health Canada has invested more than $145 million in brain research through the CBRF which has been matched by Brain Canada Foundation and its donors and partners.  

About ALS Canada and the ALS Canada Research Program

The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) is working to change what it means to live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an unrelenting and currently terminal disease.

Grounded in and informed by the Canadian ALS community, we respond to the urgent unmet need for life-changing treatments by investing in high-quality research that will fuel scientific discovery and by engaging industry, supporting increased clinical capacity and advocating for equitable, affordable, and timely access to proven therapies.

Responding to the tremendous need for current and credible ALS knowledge, awareness, and education, we empower Canadians affected by ALS to navigate the current realities of ALS, be informed consumers of ALS information, and advocate effectively for change.

Through the ALS Canada Research Program, we fund peer-reviewed research grants, foster collaboration and build capacity within Canada’s ALS research and clinical community, and invest in new areas of research positioned to have high impact. As the only national dedicated source of funding for ALS research across Canada, the ALS Canada Research Program aims to accelerate research impact by providing funding for the most promising ALS projects focused on translating scientific discoveries into treatments for ALS. We are grateful for the support of our donors and the contributions from provincial ALS Societies through the Walk to End ALS.


About Brain Canada

Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. It plays a unique and invaluable role as the national convener of the brain research community. We join people, labs and platforms across the country, as well as institutions, organizations and sectors – to drive innovation and foster an interconnected brain research system. Our work enables Canada to excel and make even greater contributions to the global quest to understand the brain and brain disorders. Join us in funding brilliance daily, braincanada.ca.

About Fondation Vincent Bourque
Vincent was diagnosed with ALS in 2015. He knew that ALS was not an incurable disease, but an underfunded one. With his wife, Isabelle Lessard, and many friends, he created a Fondation to help families living with ALS and to support research in order to eradicate ALS. He passed away in 2018, but his legacy to the ALS community is immensurable. The Fondation Vincent Bourque has raised more than $1,200, 000 since 2018, given five research grants to star researchers dedicated to ALS, and distributed more than $250, 000 to help families. The Fondation Vincent Bourque is proud to be working with ALS Canada and Brain Canada toward a future without ALS.

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Join the conversation and connect with the ALS community online. Find ALS Canada on Twitter, Instagram, or like our page on Facebook. Visit als.ca to find out more.


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