I am an ALS scientist. For years, I have been spending my days conducting research in the lab. We are always trying to find the next big discovery, and today I want to tell you something: the biggest discovery of my career almost didn’t happen. But it did, thanks to ALS Canada. And thanks to their generous donors.

Years ago, we were studying the tiny junction between the nerve cells in our spinal cord and our muscles. For years, conventional research had told us this junction wasn’t relevant for ALS research. It was neglected and overlooked.

Due to the long-held belief that paralysis happens in ALS because the motor neurons die, many of my colleagues were surprised when I started applying for funding to help us research this tiny nerve junction further. ALS Canada saw the potential in this research when nobody else would, and they took a risk. With the support of donors, ALS Canada offered me a research grant so I could continue the investigation. On behalf of my research team and the ALS community who serves to benefit from this discovery, thank you to everyone supported these efforts.

Because of that ALS Canada research grant, we now know that there is significance to this research that other scientists had once dismissed. We have proven these tiny nerve junctions don’t simply die when people develop ALS, which is what scientists believed before. We now know that’s not the case! This research unlocked the most important first step, and now that we know “what,” we are working hard to understand “why” this happens.

What started as scientific curiosity became a breakthrough discovery thanks to ALS Canada’s supporters. When I started, there was only one researcher helping me with this work part-time. Now, I have an entire lab of researchers dedicating nearly all of their time to this work. The momentum is building, and I can truly feel the excitement in the lab every day.

Thank you to all who support ALS Canada. Because you do, my important research is possible. Without your support, I may not have been able to continue. But because of you, I still can.

I can’t wait to see where it goes next.


Dr. Richard Robitaille

ALS Canada funded researcher

Professor, Department of Neurosciences, Université de Montréal

Member of ALS Canada Scientific and Medical Advisory Council

If you’d like to make a donation today, you can do so by clicking this link.

Posted in: Research, Stories