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An enduring legacy of support for the next generation of Canadian neuroscientists

Research stories March 23, 2022
Dr. Hubert van Tol

In 2006, a travel award was created in memory of the late neuroscientist, Dr. Hubert van Tol, thanks to the generous support of the Seger-van Tol family.

Dr. Hubert van Tol was born on September 20, 1959, in Maastricht, the Netherlands. He received his PhD at the University of Utrecht and later went on to become a Professor and Canadian Research Chair in Neurobiology at the University of Toronto. Throughout his career, Dr. van Tol gained a profound appreciation and love for collaborating with colleagues from all over the world and welcoming students from other countries into his lab. That is why, following his death in 2006, his family decided to commemorate his legacy with Brain Canada through the Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship, a grant established with Dr. Monica Seger, Dr. van Tol’s wife.

 “Hubert and I met when I was a postdoc in Utrecht. We then moved to the U.S. West Coast together to continue doing research,” says Dr. Seger. “The exchange of ideas with scientists from all over the world continued to inspire Hubert through direct contact at conferences and other ways of communicating. We wanted to encourage other young scientists to seek out these important experiences.”  

 

Dr. Monica Seger with her late husband, Dr. Hubert van Tol

The purpose of the Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship is to provide funding for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows to attend major international conferences and symposiums. The funding provides researchers with the opportunity to present their work to their peers, access world-class education, participate in scientific discussions with leading experts in the field, and collect valuable feedback on their research.

“Brain Canada is our country’s most prestigious non-profit focused on brain research, and I am incredibly honoured to have received the Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship from Brain Canada and the Seger-van Tol family,” says Stephanie Mouchbahani-Constance, a PhD student at McGill University and recipient of a 2021 Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship award. “These funds allow scientists to develop bold and innovative projects to probe the boundaries of what is known about the nervous system and allows Canadian scientists to perform competitive and top tier neuroscience research on a global scale.”

Since the first Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship, 18 travel awards have been granted to recipients across the country, in support of brilliant brain research. This year, six investigators received grants to attend a major international symposium or conference in the neuroscience field. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, awards were also exceptionally granted for virtual attendance.

“Being able to attend this conference will be invaluable, as I will be exposed to cutting edge research, obtain feedback on my own work, and form collaborations with world-class experts in the frontotemporal dementia field,” says Lauren Forgrave, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, and recipient of a 2021 Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship award. “This prestigious distinction will aid in my career, as award recipients are considered a more attractive job candidate as well.”

“We are so grateful to the Seger-van Tol family for their steadfast generosity and support of excellent brain research,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, Brain Canada President and CEO. “This funding provides an opportunity for the next generation of neuroscience leaders to exchange ideas with their peers abroad and contribute to the advancement of Canadian research.” 

 

The six awardees of the 2021 Dr. Hubert van Tol Travel Fellowship are:

  • Amirah-Iman Hicks, PhD Student at McGill University in Dr. Masha Prager-Khoutorsky’s laboratory - Canadian Association for Neuroscience conference (Virtual)
  • Katarzyna Dudek, PhD student at the University of Laval in Dr. Caroline Menard’s laboratory - European Brain and Behaviour Society conference in Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Lauren Forgrave, PhD student at the University of British Columbia in Dr. Mari DeMarco’s laboratory - International Conference on Frontotemporal Dementias in Lillie, France
  • Mina Mirjalili, PhD student at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Dr. Tarek Rajji’s laboratory - Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (Virtual)
  • Stephanie Mouchbahani-Constance, PhD student at McGill University in Dr. Reza Sharif-Naeini’s laboratory - Society for Neuroscience Conference (Virtual)
  • Sylvie Lesuis, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto in Dr. Sheena A. Josselyn’s laboratory - European Brain and Behaviour Society conference in Lausanne, Switzerland