Brain Canada is pleased to announce the recipients of the Shireen and Edna Marcus Excellence Award. Grant Bruno, from the University of Alberta, and Hong Lu, from the University of British Columbia, will each receive $4,500 to support their academic development and promising research into Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  

Funding for the Shireen and Edna Marcus Excellence Award is thanks to the support of the Shireen and Edna Marcus Foundation, a charity focused on supporting Canadian institutions and registered charities  conducting or assisting research in the prevention or treatment of autism. It has supported Brain Canada’s student awards since 2019. This Award is intended for Master’s and Ph.D. students and/or postdoctoral fellows who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in their graduate studies specifically in the field of autism research.

“Congratulations to both recipients. Your dedication to unlocking the mysteries of autism is inspiring and will certainly lead to innovation when it comes to preventing, diagnosing and treating the disorder,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO at Brain Canada. “We look forward to seeing all that you will accomplish in your bright futures.”

Bruno and Lu were selected on a competitive basis by a review committee established by Brain Canada. Both Applicants are outstanding Ph.D. candidates with projects that are both promising and novel in their approaches.   


The two funded projects are:

The Lived Experience of Autism in an Indigenous Community: A Qualitative Study

Grant Bruno, Ph.D. Candidate in Medical Sciences – Paediatrics, University of Alberta 

There is little research on ASD in First Nations communities in Canada. For his project, Grant will work with children, families, and service providers from the nehiyawak communities of Maskwacis to gain a better understanding of ASD. The goal of this trailblazing study is to implement community-led research in the context of ASD. Listen to Bruno talk about his work in this recent interview.

Characterizing the roles of synapse organizers in mediating synaptic function and brain-based diseases

Hong Lu, Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience, University of British Columbia 

Lu’s lab has recently discovered a process essential to the binding between synaptic molecules and synapse development. His research will dig deeper into the characterization of synapse organizing molecules which will advance our understanding of neuronal mechanisms in autism.

Learn more about these projects in Brain Canada’s directory of funded researchers.