Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro)

Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro)

June 10, 2009 12:31 ET

The Neuro Receives Donation of $500,000 to Fund the First National Bank Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Stem Cell Research

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - June 10, 2009) – The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) and the Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP) are pleased to acknowledge  National Bank Financial Group for its $500,000 donation to The Neuro's Thinking Ahead Campaign to create the National Bank Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Experimental Therapeutics. The first fellowship will fund a revolutionary stem cell research project that will advance not only our basic understanding of the mechanisms of neurological disorders but also aid the development of new therapies for diseases such as ataxia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.

"For 75 years, The Neuro has been recognized for creating and implementing innovative clinical and research programs, such as the Experimental Therapeutics, that seek answers to the development, progression and treatment of neurological disorders and diseases," stated Dr. David R. Colman, Director of The Neuro. "Having the necessary funding to attract first-rate fellows is essential to this effort and we salute National Bank Financial Group for its exceptional support."

"The Financial Group's generous investment in the Experimental Therapeutic Program at The Neuro enhances our ability to effectively address unmet clinical needs by translating fundamental lab discoveries to the development of safe and effective therapies," said Dr. Amit Bar-Or, Director of the ETP.

This year's fellowship has been awarded to native Quebecer Dr. Isabelle Thiffault, a top ranked candidate whose educational achievements and early career embody excellence.  She received a Bachelor of Medical Biology from Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (2001) and a Master of Human Genetics from McGill University (2004). She obtained a Doctorate from the Research Centre of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), where she conducted research on cloning and the characterization of two mutated genes responsible for two new recessive forms of ataxia that are frequently found in the French-Canadian population. 

Dr. Thiffault, working with renowned scientist Dr. Eric Shoubridge, will employ the newest and most radical technique in stem cell research—induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells—as a model for studying metabolic disorders caused by genetic mutations and mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria are the energy factories within the cell. Damage to or malfunction of mitochondria are important factors in more than 40 types of metabolic disorders and may also have a role in diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's as well as genetic diseases found across Quebec. This revolutionary stem cell technology will be developed as a model to study pathology and test new therapies. The generation of these types of stem cells, which are important in research and as potential therapies, have been cited as a critical advancement in stem cell research and allow researchers to obtain stem cells without the controversial use of embryos.

The National Bank Postdoctoral Fellowship in Experimental Therapeutics will allow The Neuro over the coming years to recruit some of the world's brightest and most highly motivated scientists to proceed at full speed with careers in academic medicine. New fellows bring with them new ideas and perspectives, and having a productive start at this early stage in their careers will multiply their potential impact on the future of medical science many times over. One of the main goals of National Bank Financial Group in establishing the fellowship was to accelerate translational research. Investment in Dr. Thiffault and her research will improve the science of iPS and may open the door for new treatments for neurological disorders using patient-specific cells.

About the Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP) at The Neuro
The Experimental Therapeutics Program (ETP), directed by Dr. Amit Bar-Or, supports and promotes translational or "bench to bedside" research in order to expedite the development and evaluation of emerging therapies aimed at halting and ultimately reversing disability caused by neurological disease. The ETP integrates fundamental research activities at The Neuro and elsewhere, with rigorous studies on neurological disease, creating an innovative opportunity to further integrate and enhance the academic and clinical missions of The Neuro. For more information, please visit

About the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
Celebrating 75 years
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. The Neuro is a research and teaching institute of McGill University and forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. Neuro researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. For more information, please visit

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