ACAR announces recipients of international collaboration funding program

The Neuroscience Centre Zurich-McGill University Neurodevelopmental Disorder Research Collaboration supports international partnerships and fosters scientific excellence

The Azrieli Centre for Autism Research (ACAR) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Joint Pilot Project Grants awarded within the framework of The Neuroscience Centre Zurich-McGill University Neurodevelopmental Disorder Collaboration.

Funding for the McGill University-portion of the grants comes from ACAR.

The awardees are Jean-Francois Poulin (The Neuro, McGill University) and Marie Labouesse (ETH Zürich), and Ivan Topisirovic (McGill University) and Gerhard Schratt (ETH Zürich).

“This year’s recipients have successfully forged new international synergies, drawing on each other’s expertise to drive innovation in neuroscience,” says Stefano Stifani, ACAR’s Associate Director of Fundamental Research.

“We are confident that their proposed research will lead to continued and strengthened collaboration between our institutions.”

Jean-Francois Poulin          Marie Labouesse

Jean-Francois Poulin (left) and Marie Labouesse’s (right) research project is entitled, “Cell-specific models of altered dopamine function during early postnatal development.”

Their work will generate tools to understand the contribution of postnatal dopamine (DA) in the development of symptoms of severe neurodevelopmental disorders. Their goal is to develop transgenic models to transiently increase DA levels in the striatum of mice and determine the lasting effects of such circuit modulation on behaviour.

Understanding the impact of early striatal DA on brain wiring mechanisms and its consequences on adult circuit function could help identify a critical temporal window for the treatment of symptomatic behaviours.

“We are extremely thankful to ACAR for their support, which allows our lab to venture in a new direction and establish a promising collaboration with ZNZ,” says Poulin.

Ivan Topisirovic          Gerhard Schratt

Ivan Topisirovic (left) and Gerhard Schratt (right) will pursue their project, “miRNA-dependent control of neuronal energy metabolism in autism spectrum disorders,” with the overall aim of understanding how alteration in metabolic pathways and protein translation in neuronal cells are associated with cellular and behavioural phenotypes in autism.

“We are extremely grateful for the funding provided by ACAR,” adds Topisirovic.

“This grant will allow us to study previously unappreciated aspects of metabolic and translational perturbations in the context of autism spectrum disorders while strengthening collaborations between our teams.”

The partnership between McGill University and the University of Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – as represented by the Neuroscience Center Zurich (ZNZ) – supports international collaborative work and fosters scientific excellence in the area of neurodevelopmental disorders.

For more information about the funding program, contact: stefano.stifani [at] (Stefano Stifani) or wknecht [at] (Wolfgang Knecht)

About ACAR

The Azrieli Centre for Autism Research (ACAR) transforms research, training and care to improve the quality of life of autistic people and their families.

Established in 2017 thanks to the Azrieli Foundation, ACAR operates in the spirit of Open Science, inclusion and community collaboration. The state-of-the-art research centre is committed to advancing understanding of the mechanisms underlying autism and related conditions, developing new diagnostic tools and effective interventions through translational research and integrated care, and training the next generation of fundamental and clinical autism researchers.

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




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