Eight projects receive funding to find answers and
fuel discoveries in ALS research

Toronto – In their effort to fund progress and innovation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research, the ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) and Brain Canada are proud to announce the eight recipients of the 2023 Discovery Grants, with a total investment of $1,350,000.

The ALS Canada-Brain Canada Discovery Grants provide the research community with crucial funding for projects focused on identifying causes of ALS, treatments for ALS or related neurological diseases, and avenues to maximize function, minimize disability, and optimize the quality of life for people and their families living with ALS.

“ALS Canada is incredibly grateful for our partnership with Brain Canada and the support of our donors to fund these individuals and the projects they are leading,” says Dr. David Taylor, Vice-President of Research and Strategic Partnerships at ALS Canada. “These projects represent Canada’s best new ideas to impact our current understanding of ALS. Our hope is that discoveries made through this funding will take us closer to effective treatments and, someday, a world free of ALS.”

The Discovery Grant recipients are selected following a rigorous peer-reviewed grant competition that engages an international panel of experts to choose the best work grounded in scientific excellence and with the potential to advance the field of ALS research quickly.

“We take great pride in supporting these eight projects, which are driving forward scientific discovery on a global scale,” says Dr. Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada. “With these funds, the ALS research community is empowered to push the boundaries of innovation, and we eagerly anticipate the remarkable discoveries that will arise from their dedicated efforts.”

Summary of the 2023 ALS Canada-Brain Canada Discovery Grants:

  • Can this new way of analyzing brain imaging data help researchers predict and monitor the progression of ALS?
    Dr. Mahsa Dadar, McGill University, in collaboration with Dr. Sanjay Kalra, University of Alberta, awarded $125,000
  • Can boosting a vital protein in the brain help to slow the progression of ALS?
    Dr. Jean-Pierre Julien, Université Laval, in collaboration with Dr. Angela Genge, McGill University, awarded $125,000
  • Is this newly discovered tag on TDP-43 key to understanding and treating ALS?
    Dr. Dale Martin, University of Waterloo, in collaboration with Dr. Max Rousseaux, University of Ottawa, and Dr. Christine Vande Velde, Université de Montréal, awarded $125,000
  • Can these worm models help researchers better understand and even block the spread of ALS pathology?
    Dr. Alex Parker, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Guy Rouleau, McGill University, awarded $125,000
  • How does fatty acid metabolism influence motor neuron health?
    Dr. Chantelle Sephton, Université Laval, in collaboration with Dr. Liang Li, University of Alberta, awarded $125,000
  • Can investigating protein shapes reveal important puzzle pieces for future treatment strategies?
    Dr. Valerie Sim, University of Alberta, in collaboration with Dr. Sumit Das, University of Alberta, and Dr. Sanjay Kalra, University of Alberta, awarded $125,000
  • Can a deeper understanding of nerve-muscle connections uncover new ways to treat ALS?
    Dr. Richard Robitaille, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Sandrine Da Cruz, KU Leuven (Belgium), and Dr. Danielle Arbour, Université de Montréal, awarded $300,000
  • Can targeting the stress response within cells lead to more effective therapies for ALS?
    In partnership with Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec and Brain Canada, Dr. Christine Vande Velde, Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Watts, UMass Chan Medical School (USA), awarded $300,000

Funding for one Discovery Grant was made possible by the Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel Fund – SLA Québec, who generously contributed $150,000 to ALS Canada, which was matched by Brain Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF).

The CBRF is an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada Foundation, which increases Canadians’ support for brain research and expands the philanthropic space for funding brain research to achieve maximum impact.

For more information on these funded projects, visit als.ca.

About ALS Canada and the ALS Canada Research Program

The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada) is working to change what it means to live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an unrelenting and currently terminal disease.

Grounded in and informed by the Canadian ALS community, we respond to the urgent unmet need for life-changing treatments by investing in high-quality research that will fuel scientific discovery and by engaging industry, supporting increased clinical capacity and advocating for equitable, affordable, and timely access to proven therapies.

Responding to the tremendous need for current and credible ALS knowledge, awareness, and education, we empower Canadians affected by ALS to navigate the current realities of ALS, be informed consumers of ALS information, and advocate effectively for change.

Through the ALS Canada Research Program, we fund peer-reviewed research grants, foster collaboration and build capacity within Canada’s ALS research and clinical community, and invest in new areas of research positioned to have high impact. As the only national dedicated source of funding for ALS research across Canada, the ALS Canada Research Program aims to accelerate research impact by providing funding for the most promising ALS projects focused on translating scientific discoveries into treatments for ALS. We are grateful for the support of our donors and the contributions from participating provincial ALS Societies through the Walk to End ALS.

About Brain Canada

Brain Canada is a national non-profit organization that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. It plays a unique and invaluable role as the national convener of the brain research community. We join people, labs and platforms across the country, as well as institutions, organizations and sectors – to drive innovation and foster an interconnected brain research system. Our work enables Canada to excel and make even greater contributions to the global quest to understand the brain and brain disorders. Join us in funding brilliance daily, braincanada.ca.


Join the conversation and connect with the ALS community online. Find ALS Canada on Twitter, Instagram, or like our page on Facebook. Visit als.ca to find out more.

For more information
ALS Society of Canada

Brain Canada
Brielle Goulart

Posted in: Research