The Krembil Foundation has awarded a $330,000 grant to Derek Wilson, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and director of the Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry (CRMS), for his research project “Understanding the Molecular Origins of Neurodegenerative Disease”.
Wilson’s lab specializes in developing novel mass-spectrometry methods to investigate biomedical problems at a molecular level. The funded project focuses on the causes of Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease affecting an estimated 44 million patients worldwide, and with a global disease burden of over $600 billion.
“Recent studies have indicated the pharmaceutical community is not making the kind of progress it had hoped for with its latest crop of Alzheimer’s drugs,” said Wilson. “This has led a number of researchers to suspect that new research directions need to be investigated to better understand Alzheimer’s and how it originates in the brain at a molecular level. Discoveries at this level enable us to then hunt for new ways of tackling the disease at its root. The chemistry-based, analytical methods we are developing in my lab, and at CRMS more broadly, are uniquely suited to tackling these questions.”
The Krembil Foundation is a charitable family foundation that invests in promising biomedical research in addition to other academic research areas. Its founder Robert Krembil is York graduate (MBA ’71), and the foundation has made a number of investments in the Schulich School of Business for scholarships and also supports Professor Kari Hoffman’s neuroplasticity research in the Faculty of Health. Under the leadership of Mark Krembil (CEO), the Krembil Foundation makes grants in a number of promising areas, seeking out “high-risk, high-reward” initiatives with potential for major impact.
“The Krembil Foundation recognizes Prof. Wilson’s work as addressing a crucial set of questions needed for rational drug design for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases,” said Dr. Kate Williams, the Health Science Grants Manager at the Krembil Foundation. “We see this funding as an excellent opportunity to invest in fundamental scientific discovery in the area of neurodegeneration.”
“Congratulations to Derek on his success, and thanks to the Krembil Foundation for their support,” said Ray Jayawardhana, dean of the Faculty of Science. “I’m delighted that the Krembil Foundation has chosen to support the work of one of our most enterprising and innovative scientists.”
Wilson said he is grateful not only for the foundation’s financial partnership, but also its approach. “They really took the time to understand the research. They have come alongside us in such an incredibly helpful and supportive way.” The Foundation’s commitment to fundamental research is also key. “There is a significant need to fund basic scientific research in Canada,” said Wilson. “It’s heartening to work with people like the Krembils who understand this challenge, and who are ready to do something about it.”
“Only fundamental science can provide the platforms from which new drug discovery programs can be launched. The Krembils understand that like few others do,” said Wilson.