Janice Robertson, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Tier 2, in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), obtained her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at The University of Aberdeen, Scotland and Ph.D. in Alzheimer’s Disease at the Institute of Psychiatry (IOP), Kings College London, UK. She was awarded a Neurotoxicology Training Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust, UK to work with ALS Neurologist Professor Nigel Leigh at the IOP, then a Wellcome Trust International Prize Travelling Fellowship to train in the laboratory of leading ALS researcher, Dr. Jean-Pierre Julien, McGill University. Dr Robertson continued her postdoctoral training at McGill University with joint fellowships from the UK Motor Neurone Disease Association and American ALS Association (ALSA) before taking up her appointment at the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases in 2004, where she attained a Premiers Excellence Award and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair.
Dr. Robertson is recognized globally for her research on the pathomechanisms associated with ALS, using both in vitro and in vivo model systems. In 2005, she initiated an ALS clinical, genetic, CSF and autopsy program with her collaborator Dr. Lorne Zinman, Director of the ALS Clinic, where 200-250 new cases are diagnosed annually, and this has underpinned numerous studies focused on the genetics, neuropathology and mechanism(s) of disease. Dr. Robertson’s major interest is in understanding how the genes linked with ALS cause disease, with a particular focus on superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1), TAR DNA-Binding Protein-43 (TDP-43) and C9orf72. To this end, she has identified a pathologically misfolded form of SOD1 as a therapeutic target for ALS and is currently running an ALSA-funded preclinical immunotherapy trial in canine degenerative myelopathy (caused by mutations in SOD1) with Dr. Joan Coates, University of Missouri. She has recently generated TDP-43 and C9orf72 transgenic mouse models and is part of consortium of neurodegeneration researchers at the University of Toronto developing zebrafish models for drug screening. Recently she was awarded a $1 million operating grant for her work on TDP-43 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.