On World Science Day, the latest ALS Canada-Brain Canada research awards, with support from Fondation Vincent Bourque, highlight the importance of funding  early-career researchers and clinicians 

In recognition of World Science Day, together with Brain Canada, the ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) is pleased to announce the 2023 ALS Canada-Brain Canada Clinical Research Fellowship and Trainee Award recipients. These early career grants are designed to support the training and research of clinicians in clinical care and PhD students and postdoctoral fellows engaged in research related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) across Canada.  

With an estimated 3,000 Canadians living with ALS, investing in the next generation of researchers is critical to learning more about the disease, improving therapies, and eventually finding a cure. 

“Our commitment to invest in clinicians and researchers early in their careers through the Clinical Research Fellowship and Trainee Award programs ensures that we have top medical and scientific talent working hard to find treatments for people living with ALS,” said Dr. David Taylor, Vice-President of Research and Strategic Partnerships, ALS Canada. “These are critical parts of our national Research Program that drive optimal care and discovery toward our vision of a future without ALS.” 

Investing in the future of ALS research means investing in the brilliant young minds who possess the insights needed to unravel the complexities of the disease. Through the Clinical Fellowship Award and the Trainee Award program, Brain Canada proudly supports these up-and-coming scientists, as they are shaping a more hopeful future for those battling ALS.” 

Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada

The Clinical Research Fellowship is designed to support a clinician’s training in clinical care and research skills related to ALS, which is crucial to building better clinical infrastructure across Canada.   The Clinical Research Fellowship will provide $200,000 in funding. 

 Summary of 2023 Clinical Research Fellowship 

Can we better understand the experience of younger middle-aged adults with ALS to help guide age-appropriate management of the disease? Dr. Andrea Parks, co-supervised by Dr. Agessandro Abrahao, Dr. Lesley Gotlib Conn, Dr. Joanna Sale, and Dr. Lorne Zinman, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, awarded $200,000  

The Trainee Awards include two streams of funding: Doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows receive financial support to cover their salaries for up to three years, providing Canadian labs with the necessary funds to have top researchers working on the best projects to better understand the disease and drive toward new treatments for individuals living with ALS.  A total of $303,000 was awarded through the 2023 Trainee Awards. 

 Summary of 2023 Doctoral Awards 

Will this novel decision aid improve early care planning and symptom management in those experiencing bulbar ALS symptoms? Anna Huynh, a PhD student in Dr. Yana Yunusova’s lab at Sunnybrook Research Institute, awarded $50,000 over two years 

Do acute viral infections play a role in triggering onset or accelerating the progression of ALS?  
Art Marzok, a PhD student in Dr. Matthew Miller’s lab at McMaster University, awarded $25,000 for one year  

Can this sophisticated method to measure brain activity help researchers better understand the role of hyperexcitability in ALS and its connection to symptoms? Liane Phung, a PhD student co-supervised by Dr. Agessandro Abrahao and Dr. Lorne Zinman at Sunnybrook Research Institute, awarded $75,000 over three years 

Can a better understanding of how this particular protein influences overall protein production in cells offer insights into treating ALS? Amrita Verma, a PhD student in Dr. Neil Cashman’s lab at the University of British Columbia, awarded $75,000 over three years 

 Summary of 2023 Postdoctoral Fellowship 

Can a combination of advanced brain imaging and artificial intelligence uncover a biomarker to better track disease progression? Dr. Isabelle Lajoie, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Mahsa Dadar’s lab at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre, McGill University, awarded $78,000 over two years 

World Science Day reminds us of the impact science has in all our lives. ALS Canada is proud to support emerging scientists and clinicians whose ideas and discoveries will advance treatment and eventually lead to a world free of ALS. 

Funding for Anna Huynh’s Doctoral Award was made possible through partnership with Fondation Vincent Bourque, who generously contributed $25,000 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.