Nine projects to advance the ALS research landscape funded through ALS Society of Canada and Brain Canada partnership, with support from the Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec

The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) and Brain Canada are joining forces to invest in cutting-edge discoveries and treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Together, with support from the Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec, $1,475,000 will go towards nine Discovery Grants. This program supports projects that are focused on identifying causes of ALS, treatments for ALS or related neurological diseases, and avenues to maximize function, minimize disability, and optimize quality of life for persons and families living with ALS.

The Discovery Grant program continues to support critical Canadian research that contributes to the global effort on understanding and treating ALS. Over the past 15 years, many discoveries made with these funds have provided a foundation for studies that are impacting humans today, whether through clinical trials or critical initiatives like CAPTURE ALS,” says Dr. David Taylor, Vice-President, Research and Strategic Partnerships, ALS Canada. 

“These nine leading-edge projects led by teams across Canada are contributing to global scientific discovery,” says Brain Canada President and CEO, Dr. Viviane Poupon. “Our unique partnership with ALS Canada has the potential to lead to better diagnosis and treatment for people living with ALS, and it’s something that we are very proud of.” 

The Discovery Grants bring together multidisciplinary teams of research experts to investigate critical areas of disease processes and clinical care. The projects were selected following a competitive peer-review process, in which international ALS experts considered the merit of the applicant, the quality of the project, and the potential to advance the field of ALS research. In 2022 the Discovery Grant program introduced two funding opportunities of $300,000, an increase from additional projects funded at $125,000, as part of the partnership’s efforts to support more ambitious projects.  

Summary of 2022 Discovery Grants 

Can this routine and inexpensive procedure have a neuroprotective effect in ALS? 

Dr. Carlos Rodrigo Camara-Lemarroy at the University of Calgary, in collaboration with Dr. Minh Dang Nguyen at the University of Calgary, and Dr. Deepak Kaushik at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, awarded $125,000 

Could this new mouse model help to understand the potential role of retroviruses in ALS and lead to new treatments? 

Dr. Renée Douville at the University of Winnipeg, in collaboration with Dr. Jody Haigh at the University of Manitoba, and Dr. Domenico Di Curzio at St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre, awarded $125,000 

Could this new 3D cell culture model help researchers better predict disease progression in ALS? 

Dr. Thomas M. Durcan at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Insititute-Hospital), in collaboration with Dr. Yasser Iturria-Medina at McGill University, awarded $125,000 

Could protecting the axon represent a promising treatment strategy for ALS? 

In partnership with Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec and Brain Canada, Dr. Alex Parker at the Centre de recherche du CHUM, Université de Montreal, in collaboration with Dr. Gary Armstrong at McGill University, awarded $300,000 

Could the study of neuromuscular junction proteins aid in the development of essential biomarkers? 

Dr. Richard Robitaille at the Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Danielle Arbour and Dr. Roberta Piovesana at the Université de Montréal, and Dr. Robert Bowser at the Barrow Neurological Institute, awarded $300,000 

Could improving the mechanisms of toxic protein disposal in motor neurons become a future treatment strategy? 

Dr. Gary S. Shaw at Western University, in collaboration with Dr. Martin Duennwald at Western University, and Dr. Elizabeth Meiering at the University of Waterloo, awarded $125,000 

Can computational methods aid in the design of key antibodies for the diagnosis and treatment of ALS? 

Dr. Maria Stepanova, in collaboration with Dr. Holger Wille at the University of Alberta, awarded $125,000 

What role does its sister protein play when restoring G3BP1 levels as a potential ALS treatment strategy? 

Dr. Christine Vande Velde at the Centre de recherche du CHUM, Université de Montreal, in collaboration with Dr. Marlene Oeffinger at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), awarded $125,000 

Will this new way of looking at certain protective proteins better explain their role in ALS? 

Dr. Maria Vera Ugalde, in collaboration with Dr. Heather D. Durham at McGill University, awarded $125,000 

Funding for one Discovery Grant was made possible by the Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec, who generously contributed $150,000 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 participating provincial ALS Societies through the Walk to End ALS.