Professor Dale Martin Receives Grant to Explore New Therapeutic Targets in ALS Research

Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Eight scientists in the NeurdyPhagy lab. They are all posing with their arms crossed. The scientists are wearing white lab coats with blue gloves.

Professor Dale Martin's research lab is a recipient of a $125,000 ALS Canada-Brain Canada 2023 Discovery Grant. This grant program, dedicated to advancing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research, encourages out-of-the-box ideas in the field.  

As an Assistant Professor in Biology, Martin’s research lab (NeurdyPhagy Lab) is dedicated to identifying new therapeutic targets for ALS. ALS is caused by the degeneration of motor neurons, which has been linked to protein mislocalization and aggregation. These neurons have very long extensions known as axons that connect the brain and spinal cord to our muscles. Axons can be meters long, and proteins must travel long distances to mediate their effects, like metabolism or signalling muscles to move. The challenge arises when proteins, intended for specific cellular locations, are misdirected and perform their functions in the wrong location.  

The NeurdyPhagy lab studies a process in protein localization called fatty acylation. This process involves the addition of fat to proteins, which will act like a postal code directing them to the proper location in the cell. Building on the findings of Lucia Liao’s PhD research project, with her project student Yasmeen Alshehabi, the lab pinpointed key proteins involved in ALS that undergo acylation. 

To learn more, please visit Professor Dale Martin receives grant to explore new therapeutic targets in ALS research on Waterloo Science News.