Dr. Drapeau professor and chairman of Pathology and Cell Biology at the Université de Montréal has developed a way to effectively replace zebrafish genes by human genes. By doing this he is able to test the effect of human genetic mutations, known to result in diseases of the spinal cord and brain, in an animal model organism. He has recently discovered that signalling between nerve cells is important not only in the mature spinal cord but also from the earliest stages of development, for the growth of specialized nerve cells and their correct assembly in the spinal cord.

“This prize arrives at an opportune time, just as I am setting up my new lab at the Université de Montréal,” explains Dr. Drapeau. “It encourages me to open new doors and to remember that people like Ms. Turnbull [who is paralyzed from the neck-down] will one day benefit from the advancements we achieve in laboratories.”

The Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research is an annual prize established in 2001 that supports an outstanding researcher, identified through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)’s investigator-initiated grants competition, who contributes to the advancement of world-leading spinal cord research conducted in Canada.

“This is the only award in Canada that encourages Canadian health researchers to broaden their specialization while adding momentum to the on-going search for a cure to spinal cord injuries,” said Dr. Rémi Quirion, Scientific Director of the CIHR´s Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (CIHR-INMHA). “Dr. Drapeau is an eminent neurobiologist and his work with zebrafish is innovative and pushes us closer to understanding spinal cord growth and repair.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Canadian Institutes of Health Research