Affiliation(s): Montreal Neurological Institute
Dr. Alyson Fournier began her scientific career with doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr. Lisa McKerracher at the Centre for Research in Neuroscience at McGill University.She then completed a four-year appointment as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Stephen Strittmatter at Yale University.During her training, she published key papers describing neuronal receptor and signaling molecules that mediate responses to proteins that inhibit regeneration in the Central Nervous System.In 2003 she was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital as a Tier II Canada Research Chair. Dr. Fournier was promoted to Full Professor in 2015 and is currently the Associate Director of Academic Affairs at the Montreal Neurological Institute.The main interest of the lab is to define how nerve cells respond to injury at the molecular level to devise strategies to promote neuroprotection and repair.The lab is interested in neuronal responses to acute injuries including spinal cord injury and in neuronal responses to inflammation such as those occurring in Multiple Sclerosis.
How did you become interested in MS research? What inspires you to continue advancing research in this field?
I have had a long-standing interest in understanding why nerve cells in the Central Nervous System are unable to spontaneously repair themselves following injury.CNS inflammation in Multiple Sclerosis leads to a great deal of neuronal damage that contributes to progressive forms of the disease, therefore, this area of research was a natural fit.There is an unmet clinical need for therapies that target progressive forms of Multiple Sclerosis and this is an important motivator for our continuing work.
What do you enjoy most about doing research and what are some of the challenges you face?
I enjoy working with incredibly talented and bright people towards a common goal of trying to better understand neuronal injury and in devising strategies to promote repair.A challenge is that the pace of research is slow while the need for clinical interventions is immediate.
Describe the importance and level of collaboration in your research?
We collaborate extensively in Canada and abroad.Collaboration allows us to expand the types of research questions that we are asking and to use state of the art approaches in our work.
How important is the support from the MS Society in enabling you to conduct research?
The MS Society has played a pivotal role in providing operating funds and fellowship support for our research.With the current shortage of operating money for the Canadian Tri-Council Agencies, the MS Society has ensured that support for Canadian Research in Multiple Sclerosis has been maintained.
If you could ask one question to a person living with MS that would help you design your study, what would it be?
What MS symptom/s are the most debilitating for you?