7th International Symposium on ARSACS

Thursday, October 19, 2023 15:00toFriday, October 20, 2023 15:30
Montreal Neurological Institute Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre, 3801 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, CA

The 7th International Symposium on Autosomal Spastic Recessive Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay (ARSACS) is a great opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in ARSACS research and to exchange with participants to further advance knowledge that could lead to treatments. ARSACS is a rare neurological disorder found not only in the province of Quebec, but several cases have been reported in several countries.

The symposium is a free scientific and collaborative event open to anyone who is interested in rare neurological diseases. The main objectives of the symposium are to bring together all research stakeholders, neurologists, clinicians, students, patients and their families as well as the public and to provide a unique opportunity for discovery and discussion.

Special invitation to the participants of the World Congress of Neurology (WCN) to join us at the 7th ARSACS International Symposium to be held at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) on October 19 -20, 2023. The first day of the symposium begins at 3 p.m. EDT, the day will end with a Cocktail and Poster session. The Neuro is at walking distance from the Palais des Congrès de Montréal. We look forward to seeing you there!

Registration LINK

Livestreaming link ( Q&A via online live form)

Call for Posters 

Sharing Science and Knowledge

Young scientists and PI's across Quebec and internationally are invited to share their research at the ARSACS Symposium. Trainees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral level are welcome to present their work. The poster session will take place in-person.

Please submit your abstract of less than 150 words here . Abstracts should contain: 1) name of author & affiliation, 2) name of co-authors & affiliation, 3) title of abstract, 4) abstract. The submission deadline is July 17,  2023.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the scientific program committee. Authors will be notified whether their submission will be accepted or not by August 5, 2023.


Download Program

*All times are EST

Download Booklet


Thursday, October 19, 2023


Opening Remarks

Sonia Gobeil, Ataxia Charlevoix- Saguenay Foundation


Session 1: From Biomarkers to Treatment in ARSACS

Chair: Anne McKinney, PhD, McGill University

Magnetic Resonance Imaging biomarkers in ARSACS

Sirio Cocozza, MD, PhD, University of Naples, Italy

Mitochondria & Cytoskeletal Dysfunction in ARSACS

Mohan Babu, PhD, University of Regina, Canada

Exploring the Role of Genetic and Epigenetic Modifiers in ARSACS

Daniele Galatolo, PhD, University of Pisa, Italy

Charting the Molecular and Cellular Progression of ARSACS

Justin Wolter, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Question Period


Refreshment pause


Keynote: Lessons from SCA2

Stefan M Pulst, MD, PhD, University of Utah, USA


Cocktail & Poster session (onsite)

Friday, October 20, 2023


Opening Remarks

Nicolas Dupré, MD, PhD, CHU de Québec-Laval University, Canada


Session 2: Cellular Dysfunction in ARSACS

Mohan Babu, PhD, University of Regina, Canada

Does ARSACS Degeneration Proceed Through a SARM1-Dependent Pathway?

Thomas Schwarz, PhD, Harvard University, USA

Restoring Calcium Homeostasis in Purkinje Cells Arrests
Neurodegeneration and Neuroinflammation in the ARSACS Mouse

Francesca Maltecca, PhD, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Italy

The Role of Sacsin on Glial Cells

Federico Herrera, PhD, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Metabolic Rewiring in Cellular Models of ARSACS

Paul Chapple, PhD, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Question Period


Refreshment Pause


Session 3: Improvements in Treatment for ARSACS Patients

Chair: Nicolas Dupré, CHU de Québec-Laval University, Canada

How Natural History Studies Contribute to the Development and Assessment of Interventions

Cynthia Gagnon, PhD, Sherbrooke University, Canada

Development and Evaluation of the Efficacy of a Home

Rehabillitation Program Aiming to Increase Motor Control, Balance,

Mobility, Falls and Activities of Daily Living in People with ARSACS

Élise Duchesne, PHT, PhD. University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, Canada

A Physiatrist Guide to ARSACS

Josée Larochelle, MD, paediatric physiatrist, CHU Ste Justine, Canada 

New Developments in the Treatment of Communication Difficulties in Progressive Ataxias 

Anja Lowit, PhD, Strathclyde University, Glasgow (Virtual) 

Question Period


Refreshment Pause


Session 4: Question Period with ARSACS Patients, their Carers, and Partners

Chair: Cynthia Gagnon, PhD, Sherbrooke University, Canada

Betsy Trainor, ARSACS Foundation Board of Directors, Attorney, parent, Virginia, USA

Olivier Jérôme, CATALIS Québec, Canada

Claudia Maltais, ARSACS, Canada (Virtual)

Kymberly Hoffman, ARSACS, USA


Keynote: Cerebellar Modelling using Human IPSCs

Esther Becker, PhD, MSc, University of Oxford, UK


Lunch Pause (onsite, lunch provided)


Session 5: The Biochemistry of Sacsin

Chair: Francesca Maltecca, PhD, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Italy

Towards Determining the Structure of Sacsin

Walid Houry, PhD, University of Toronto, Canada

Leveraging Proteomics to Understand Sacsin Biology

Nevan Krogan, PhD, University of California at San Fransisco, USA (Virtual)

Understanding the Role of Metals in ARSACS

Andrew Crawford, PhD, Michigan State University, USA

Question Period


Session 6: From Animal Models to Clinical Translation

Chair: Justin Wolter, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Exploring and Treating Cognitive Dysmetria in a Mouse Model of ARSACS

Stefan Strack, PhD, University of Iowa, USA

Novel Therapeutic Approaches for ARSACS

Alanna Watt, PhD, McGill University, Canada

Sacsin: from Domains’ Functions to Biomarkers and Therapy

Ana Buj Bell, PhD, Genethon, France (Virtual)

Benoit Gentil, PhD, McGill University, Canada

Question Period









Round Table - Summary & Next Steps

Discussion Leaders:

Nicolas Dupré

Federico Herrera

Anne McKinney

Betsy Trainor

Justin Wolter

Closing remarks

Alanna Watt, PhD, McGill University, Canada


The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital is at 3801 University Street, north of Pine Avenue West, on the McGill University campus opposite the former Royal Victoria Hospital.

Montreal is served by highway Routes 10, 15, 20 and 40, and by Greyhound Bus, ViaRail and the P-E-Trudeau airport. In the city, bus and metro service is provided by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM).

Wheelchair access

A wheelchair accessible entrance is on University Street north of the main entrance. Another wheelchair accessible entrance is in the loading area behind the building: to enter the loading area, turn into the driveway south of the main entrance. Please note, there is no parking in the loading area.


Parking near the MNI is sometimes difficult. There are parking meters on University Street and a parking lot north of the main entrance. To enter the lot, turn right into the driveway toward Molson Stadium.

Information about parking fees

Taxi Stand

There is a taxi stand on University Street across from the main entrance. You may call a cab from the free taxi phone in the main lobby near the Security Desk.

Access by Public Transportation (STM website)


There are four bus stops within walking distance:

  • Bus 144 stops at Pine Avenue and University Street
  • Bus 356 stops at Sherbrooke Street and University Street (Nightbus)
  • Bus 107 stops at Pine Avenue and Docteur Penfield
  • Bus 24 stops at Sherbrooke Street and University Street


Take the Metro Green Line to the McGill station. Walk north on University Street and cross Pine Avenue. The main entrance is on the right, past the flags.

Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre

  • Enter main lobby turn left and go down the hallway to the end.
  • Turn right and go down the second hallway until you see another hallway on the left.
  • This hallway leads to the Jeanne Timmins Foyer.
  • On your right are the Jeanne Timmins Amphitheatre entrance doors.


McGill University has an agreement for special rates with several downtown hotels.

Follow this link to view options: https://www.mcgill.ca/accommodations/mohp

Organizing Committee

Mathieu Blais

Nicolas Dupré

Chantal Gobeil

Sonia Gobeil

François Gros-Louis

Massimo Pandolfo

Deborah Rashcovsky

Alanna Watt



Logo for Ataxia Charlevoix Saguenay Foundation

Logo for Neuro

Logo for Universite Laval

Logo for CHU Quebec

Logo for McGill Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

The Neuro logo McGill logoMcGill University Health Centre logoKillam Laureates


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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