In 2020, Olivier Goy, an entrepreneur, activist and photography lover from France, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a rare neurodegenerative disease that can have many different underlying causes, presentations, and prognoses. Some patients may live with the disease for decades, while others decline rapidly.

As a father of two, Goy confronted the diagnosis head-on and began publicly sharing his fight against ALS, which affects approximately 3,000 Canadians. Today, at age 50, Goy is a knight in the National Order of Merit, a knight in the Legion of Honor and an ambassador for the Paris Brain Institute.

“Olivier and I first met at a photography workshop in Venice. The moment I spotted him, I knew he was a person worth knowing, as the camera around his neck was the same as mine,” joked Allan Kliger. “Over the next several days, we became fast friends, intuitively recognizing a special friendship in the making. When Aviva met Olivier, his amazing wife Virginie, and their two fabulous boys, Clement and Luis, she was charmed in an instant.  We both love them as our own.”

Inspired by Goy’s tenacity, they joined Brain Canada’s community of dedicated donors with a substantial gift to support the Olivier Goy Rising Star Trainee Award in ALS Research, lovingly powered by Allan Kliger, Aviva Rajsky & Family.

“When Olivier first told me of his diagnosis, his manner was so matter of fact that I was stunned,” explains Kliger. “Of course, his family struggled through the initial shock – who wouldn’t? – but almost immediately, Olivier was determined not to be seen as a victim.  He would apply his energy to this as he has to all other ventures in his life, seeking joy, love, and opportunity to better himself and others, and give to the world around him in a way that only he could.”

“It is our privilege to provide a foundational gift to honor our dear and beloved friend, to show him that his passion, positivity, drive and determination, as well as his selfless, unwavering commitment to raise awareness about ALS to help others with this disease, have inspired us to step up and join him in his campaign to help others.”

Allan Kliger and Aviva Rajsky

This award falls under Brain Canada’s Rising Stars Trainee Awards, a program aimed at recognizing the excellent research being conducted at Canadian institutions by graduate students (M.Sc., Ph.D.), postdoctoral fellows, and medical residents in all fields spanning neuroscience research. The Rising Stars Trainee Awards program is supported by the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative arrangement with the Government of Canada, through Health Canada, and private donors. The program provides a number of opportunities for trainees’ academic and professional development through travel and stipend awards.  

Thanks to this generous support, Brain Canada can continue to fuel the next generation of brain researchers in Canada as they launch their academic careers and pursue their professional goals through the Olivier Goy Rising Star Trainee Award in ALS Research, lovingly powered by Allan Kliger, Aviva Rajsky & Family.

“We are grateful to Allan Kliger, Aviva Rajsky and their family for this support and we are motivated by Olivier Goy’s courage”, says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada. “Together, their dedication to improving the brain research landscape is what will help promising young neuroscientists find answers to some of the field’s most challenging questions.”

Learn more about Olivier Goy’s journey in his new film Invincible été, directed by Stéphane Pillonca.

Learn more about Brain Canada’s Rising Stars Trainee Awards.

More details on the Rising Stars Trainee Awards program.