Dr. Galen Wright among recipients of donor-funded grants
Powering up the computer. Checking emails. Pouring a second—or fourth— cup of coffee. Dr. Galen Wright’s work day begins just like many of ours. What many of our nine-to-fives do not entail, however, is working to improve the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Huntington disease.
Dr. Wright’s study, titled: “Fine-mapping of neurodegenerative disorder genomic risk loci for the prioritization of novel drug targets”, received a $70,000 grant from the HSC Foundation. Dr. Wright will use genetics to better understand these complex disorders. By studying genes, Dr. Wright aims to discover what would ultimately improve drug treatment for patients living with these diseases.
“This study has important implications for our aging population, and this essential funding provides a means for me to grow my research group and apply for future funding, thereby maximizing the impact of this grant,” says Dr. Wright. “This is the first grant I have received as an independent investigator, and I am very grateful.”
Hailing from Cape Town, Dr. Wright studied in his home country of South Africa until 2014 when he moved to Vancouver to do his postdoctoral fellowship.
“I’ve been interested in genetics since my undergrad days—the brain is fascinating,” says Dr. Wright. “This study is about merging those two passions of mine.”
Dr. Wright and his wife Dr. Britt Drögemöller, who are new assistant professors at the University of Manitoba, found themselves in the unique situation of having to move halfway across the country during the global pandemic. While pandemic restrictions have prevented these nature lovers from discovering some Manitoba sites, it didn’t prevent the newly rooted Winnipeggers from exploring the Whiteshell and enjoying trails in Winnipeg.
Dr. Wright’s grant is one of the five grants that HSC Foundation donors supported in 2020. Aside from improving the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, this year’s grants support improving outcomes for people with tumours, spinal cord injuries, and pregnant women—including a multi-province study to better treat pregnant women who have epilepsy.
Since 1981, HSC Foundation donors have supported more than 400 research projects, equipping thousands of researchers with over 55,000 square feet of dedicated research space filled with cutting-edge technology and equipment. Supporting local and new research helps foster a strong health research community in Manitoba and is key to improving care for patients.
To support the research of innovators like Dr. Wright, please consider making a gift here.
By Natasha Havrilenko