Researchers are at a critical juncture in the study of ALS, with more pieces of the ALS biology puzzle available today than ever before. As labs continue to put the pieces together and identify new targets for therapeutics, work is being done to improve how clinicians communicate to ALS patients and their caregivers, enhance the quality of life for people living with ALS, and promote the importance of genetic testing to all people diagnosed with ALS.  

The 2022 ALS Canada Research Forum brought together members of the research community across Canada to share published and unpublished results from studies in fundamental and clinical ALS research with each other, and with people affected by ALS. The Forum provided an opportunity for researchers, whether they are students, postdoctoral fellows, or seasoned investigators, to get together and ask questions, form new ideas, and seek avenues of collaboration.  

The two-day event took place on April 27 and 28, 2022, with generous support from platinum sponsor Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Canada Inc. (MTP-CA), silver sponsors Amylyx and Biogen Canada, and bronze and Community Fellow sponsor Cytokinetics. We are thankful to all of our event sponsors, as well as CANSO, for their support. 

Nearly 300 people attended this year’s Research Forum. Most participants were researchers and clinicians, but industry representatives, funding partners, staff, volunteers, and Community Fellows also took part. 

For Claudette Sturk, the Canadian ALS Learning Institute (CALI), which took place last year to engage people affected by ALS in research and advocacy, was the first time she had met other people living with ALS. “I felt empowered, and I want the researchers to know that I’m so thankful for your work,” Claudette said at the Forum in the ALS Canada Community Ambassador discussion.  

Paula Rodriguez lost her sister to ALS in June 2021, and she was surprised to learn through the CALI that there is a breadth of research being undertaken right here in Canada to identify causes of ALS and potential targets for treatment.  

“I was immensely impressed by the Research Forum. It was wonderful to see the extent of the research that’s happening. It certainly gives me confidence in the Canadian ALS research landscape – that there’s a lot of good happening, and one day we will have an answer to this very puzzling disease. It has given me hope for current and future patients that there will be a better outcome when you get a diagnosis,” Paula said. 

“I’m a newcomer to the ALS community – not a community I ever wanted to join but it’s a great community – and I thank everyone who is engaged in ALS research for what you do for people like me and thousands of others across the country, and our family and friends,” said Chris Ford, another Community Fellow who spoke at the Forum. 

“The Research Forum has been going strong for over 15 years and even though I know what everyone is working on in Canada, I’m astounded every year at the quality of the presentations and science,” said Dr. David Taylor, VP Research at ALS Canada. “Despite being virtual again this year, I’m already aware of some new collaborations that have come out of it and that’s a true testament to the power of bringing researchers together.” 

Posted in: Research