Bringing together researchers and community members to move the needle on ALS treatment and innovation

Canada continues solidifying its reputation as a leader in ALS research innovation, as evidenced by the magnitude and quality of conversations, knowledge sharing, and relationship building at the 2024 ALS Canada Research Forum. From April 27 to 29, researchers, industry partners, ALS Canada supporters, and more attended the in-person, three-day event, that aimed to move the needle on research toward effective therapies and avenues to improve the quality of life for people affected by ALS. 

The weekend kicked off with a keynote presentation by neurologist Prof. Orla Hardiman on PRECISION ALS, a pan-European collaborative platform that brings together researchers, industry experts, and more to accelerate drug discovery and treatment for ALS. Later that evening, attendees heard from community members Mehboob and Sophie Damji. They also learned more about the global work of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations from the CEO, Cathy Cummings, and the role ALS Canada plays in working toward a world free of ALS. 

Throughout the weekend, attendees were treated to engaging presentations from researchers of all levels, including students, doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and senior researchers and clinicians. Session topics were diverse – from using virtual reality to improve breathing in people living with ALS, to identifying environmental risk factors for ALS, to poster presentations by up-and-coming junior researchers, to a panel discussion led by seasoned researchers on what makes a great principal investigator. These presentations and conversations further cemented the ALS research community’s deep-rooted commitment to finding a cure for ALS through collaboration and partnership. 

For Canadian ALS Learning Institute graduate and ALS Canada Community Ambassador Andrew Dundas, the Research Forum was fascinating and an opportunity to share his lived experiences with researchers. “I’m hoping to understand the research [on] not only for advancement and the cause of ALS, ultimately [to find] a cure, but also for opportunities to improve the quality of life for patients with ALS like myself while a search for a cure is found.” 

Andrew reminds us of the reason knowledge-sharing events like the ALS Canada Research Forum are needed – to foster hope, collaboration, and solutions in the pursuit of creating a world free of ALS. He reminds us that finding a cure is not the only goal to strive for and that working towards improving quality of life is just as important.  

For Jenny Zhang, a junior researcher at the University of Ottawa and the winner of the Research Forum’s Minute to Win It and poster competitions, the event was a valuable experience that allowed her to network and receive feedback on her work. “As someone currently exploring potential career possibilities, the 2024 ALS Research Forum allowed me to learn more about various ALS research pathways that I wasn’t aware of…All of these experiences will support my progress and improve my work.”  

Jenny also echoes the sentiment of many Research Forum attendees that collaboration is critical for advancing ALS research. “I believe that uniting researchers with varying scientific backgrounds and perspectives can help drive innovation and speed up the development of treatments for complex diseases like ALS,” she said. “Bridging together researchers and clinicians and people living with or affected by ALS has provided a sense of hope for the community to continue making progress in ALS research and improve quality of life.” 

The 2024 ALS Canada Research Forum is made possible thanks to generous support from our platinum sponsor, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Canada; our gold sponsor, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals; and our silver sponsors, Biogen and QurAlis. We thank our sponsors for their support and generosity in fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and capacity building at the 2024 ALS Canada Research.

Posted in: Events, Research