Meet the junior researchers behind the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Trainee Awards 

Dr. Hussein Ghazale is the recipient of a $165,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award

After finishing his PhD in France, Dr. Ghazale moved to Canada to work with Dr. Carol Schuurmans at Sunnybrook Research Institute. Her team examines if neuronal reprogramming could serve as a potential treatment strategy for neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS. 

ALS causes damage to neurons, affecting the body’s everyday ability to function. Dr. Ghazale’s work focuses on attempting to reprogram glial cells – a common and abundant type of brain cell – into new neurons. The team hopes these fresh cells could effectively integrate with existing cells in brains of people with ALS, improving their capacity and quality of life. 

At the moment, Dr. Ghazale is testing the strategy in animal models. But with this influx of funding, he notes he can speed up his project timeline and do higher-tech experiments. The award will also help him refine his strategy to potentially translate this work to clinical applications. 

I know that this work could one day end up supporting people living with ALS and their families and help … ease what they’re going through.This is what motivates me every day to keep working hard to improve therapeutic strategies.”

Dr. Hussein Ghazale, Sunnybrook Research Institute

“We must continue to push the boundaries of ALS research,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada. “It’s through these uncharted territories that we will uncover the solutions and enable ourselves to envision a future where ALS no longer exists.” 

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.