Meet the students who received the 2022 ALS Canada – Brain Canada Doctoral Awards

PhD student Lucia Meng Qi Jadon (previously Liao) is the recipient of a $75,000 ALS Canada – Brain Canada 2022 Trainee Award. She will use the funding to investigate whether a newly discovered tag on TDP-43 might have an important role to play in ALS. 

For her first six months of doctoral work in Dr. Dale Martin’s lab at the University of Waterloo, Lucia struggled. “I was trying to show something that hadn’t been shown before, so it was difficult,” she said. 

But then – success. She detected a faint signal that confirmed she was on the right path. Thanks to her persistence, her work is opening up a new pathway for research. 

In a way, the award was like that first signal, confirming her work as a researcher. “I put in all this work, and this award helps me know I’m good enough to be here,” she said. “It’s a huge encouragement that I am cut out for this.” 

Lucia’s desire to understand the intricate, complex processes of human cells drives her passion for research. 

“When you discover one process, it immediately opens up new possibilities. It’s like a puzzle you keep finding more pieces to.”

Lucia Meng Qi Jadon, University of Waterloo

Lucia’s project looks at one piece of the complicated ALS puzzle. Early in her PhD work, she confirmed that TDP-43 undergoes a modification called palmitoylation. This process may play a role in TDP-43 mislocation, one of the most common hallmarks of ALS. 

She will use this funding to better define the properties of palmitoylation of TDP-43 and understand how it might be abnormal in ALS. 

“I’m peeling back the layers, little by little,” she says. 

“Ms. Jadon’s work will serve as a beacon, drawing the attention of like-minded scientists eager to explore new frontiers in ALS research,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada.  

Lucia says looks forward to sharing her findings to spark new collaborations within the ALS research community. “I want to establish the basics of this information I discovered and get this out there,” she said. “Then other researchers will know this is something they may want to look into.” 

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.