Audrey Labarre studies in Dr. Alex Parker’s lab at l’Université de Montréal.

Could you tell us a little bit about your work?

We’re working with the C. elegans, little worms one millimetre long. We use them to model the ALS disease. I’m interested in the gut microbiota – all your bacterial friends that are living in your gut, and how it can impact ALS pathogenesis (how it spreads or how it can cause neurodegeneration, or the opposite, neuroprotection). I’m more interested in how I can protect the neurons in your body.

What attracted you to studying ALS in the first place?

I was interested in neurosciences at first. I wanted to work on Alzheimer’s because my grandmother had it. Then I worked on MS, and then I wanted to do a Master’s degree. And I just found out about this amazing position in ALS. And I think once you’re in the field, you don’t want to go back. It’s such an interesting disease, and there’s such a lack of understanding. So it’s really thrilling to work on that. Because you really want to know what’s happening and how you can help people.

In your opinion, what is happening in research now?

There’s a lot happening in research now. People are interested in a lot of different things. But people are talking together, and that’s really amazing because you don’t see that really often in other fields. There’s a lot of teamwork going on. So scientists and researchers are trying to have the back of the patients. We’re working hard, not sleeping enough to find a cure, or at least a treatment, to really understand how the disease is working. Because when you know how it’s works, it’s easier to find a treatment.

What does donor support mean for researchers like you? 

We got a Discovery Grant for my project in the lab. So basically, what that means is that I can take my project to the next level. I can use mice now to see if the findings I have in the worms are still working in the mice. So it really helps to push the limits of your project and just take a step forward.

Posted in: Research