Meet the students behind the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Trainee Awards 

Charlotte Manser is the recipient of a $75,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award. As a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, she investigates how ALS-linked genes might contribute to the loss of normal stress granule formation. 

When our cells are stressed, they create “stress granules” to protect RNA, which are critical substances to cellular health. Charlotte explores how the abnormal accumulation of stress granules might contribute to the mislocation of the protein TDP-43, a common hallmark of ALS. 

She has tested many genes that might be linked with both stress granule formation and ALS. 

I found two hits that I’m actively pursuing. With these, we can try to uncover new mechanisms of disease or a new therapeutic target. They can help us better understand how the disease comes about.” 

Charlotte Manser, University of Ottawa

Determination motivated by loss 

Charlotte’s work is motivated by her personal connection to the disease. 

In 2013, her father died from ALS. Around that time, she switched her undergraduate major from forensics to neuroscience. 

“It was a light bulb moment,” she says. “I knew this is what I wanted to do.” 

She also became an active member of the community of families affected by ALS. Charlotte notes that it means a lot for this same community to recognize her work with this award. 

“This work represents the hope of turning something awful, like grief, into something productive and positive,” she says. “My hope is that I can contribute something to the field so that it isn’t so bad for the next person.”

The ALS Canada-Brain Canada Trainee Program has been made possible by the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada), Brain Canada Foundation and ALS Canada.