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No local scientists applied for ALS funding


Summertime 2014, your Facebook feed was likely flooded with friends and family dousing themselves with ice water, or maybe you took the plunge yourself, all in aid of research.

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The IceBucket challenge generated a lot of participation, and raised plenty of money for ALS Canada — none of which will be coming to N.L. research, because no one from this province applied for funds.

The viral campaign by ALS Canada, which stands for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of Canada, raised millions, and last week some $15 million was announced in “historic” research grants to institutions across the country.

But Newfoundland and Labrador’s Memorial University wasn’t one of them. No grants were awarded in Saskatchewan, either.

There is a good explanation why those two provinces didn’t get grants to study the disease, however.

“The reason Saskatchewan and Newfoundland are not represented is because no one from these two provinces submitted an application in 2015 to any of the competitions in the ALS Canada Research Program,” said ALS director of research David Taylor in an email to The Telegram.

The campaign put the society on the social media map and was wildly popular.

"Never before have we had the financial resources to be able to fund multi-collaborative research projects across leading academic institutions to the extent we can today, it is because of the generosity of Canadians who embraced the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the investment from the federal government’s Canada Brain Research Fund through Brain Canada,” said Tammy Moore, CEO of the ALS Society of Canada in a news release announcing the grants this week.

Taylor said he hopes there will be more interest from Newfoundland and Saskatchewan researchers in the future.

When asked, MUN was unable to identify anyone there who is exclusively researching ALS, though one researcher’s work may be related.

There are about 3,000 Canadians living with ALS, a rapid neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the famous 1920s and ’30s New York Yankees baseball player who died from the disease at age 37.

Grants that the society hopes will produce groundbreaking advances in treating the condition, are detailed at http://als.ca/en/news/awareness/als-canada-research-program-announcements

Some $4.4 million of the ice bucket funds also went to help people living with the disease across the country.

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