Desjardins and The NeuroAs part of The Neuro’s Thinking Ahead Campaign, a $240,000 donation from Desjardins Group, the largest financial cooperative group in Canada, to The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, McGill University has enabled the creation of the Desjardins Outstanding Student Award. Twelve awards of 20 000 $ each will support top-rated graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are advancing research to better understand the nervous system and neurological disorders and aid in developing new therapies.

“This award gives Desjardins an opportunity to support the education and training of the next generation of brilliant neuroscientists seeking answers to neurological diseases and disorders.  We are proud to support The Neuro, and by doing so, we take action in two of our main priorities: education and health”, states Mrs. Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group.

“This award will support some of the most motivated scientists who are provided an exceptional research environment and neuroscience education at The Neuro, says Mr. Jacques Bougie, co-chair of The Neuro’s Thinking Ahead Campaign. “One of the pillars of the campaign has been to invest in people at The Neuro. Having a productive start in the early stage of a student’s career will multiply their potential impact on the future of medical science many times over.”

The Neuro is the largest training centre for neuroscience in Canada, with over 300 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents working in its labs and clinics each year. The number of trainees has increased by 50% in the last 8 years, reflecting its excellent reputation. The Neuro’s multidisciplinary teams generate information fundamental to the full spectrum of neuroscience from cell and molecular biology to brain imaging and cognitive neuroscience.

“Supporting the work of the next generation has always been key to The Neuro’s success and overall mission,” said Dr. Guy Rouleau, Director of The Neuro. “The brightest students bring innovation and fresh ideas to neuroscience research.  Having the necessary funding to support first-rate students is essential to this progress in research and insight into disease and we salute Desjardins for their commitment and generous support.”

The first award recipient is Aaron Johnstone, a top ranked candidate whose academic achievements and early career embody excellence. He holds a Bachelor in Molecular Biology and Genetics and a Masters in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Guelph. Mr. Johnstone is currently enrolled in McGill’s Integrated Program in Neuroscience and is working with renowned scientist Dr. Phil Barker to investigate how protein regulators of apoptosis, a normal cell ‘suicide’ program, may also play important roles in regulating the degeneration of axons and synapses in the normal brain, and also in the major degenerative diseases of the nervous system. Studying these processes will help researchers to better understand the destructive events that occur during neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and enable the development of more effective therapies in the future.

The Neuro
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro, is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. The Neuro is a research and teaching institute of McGill University and forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre.  Neuro researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. For more information, visit
About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada with assets over $200 billion. Drawing on the strength of its caisse network in Québec and Ontario and its subsidiaries across Canada, it offers a full range of financial products and services to its members and clients. Desjardins specializes in Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance, in Property and Casualty Insurance, in Personal Services, in Business and Institutional Services. Best Corporate Citizen in Canada for 2012 and among Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Desjardins is supported by the skills of its 44,942 employees and the commitment of 5,268 elected officers. Desjardins members and the general public are invited to visit Desjardins Group’s education and cooperation program website at
Contact: Anita Kar, Communications Officer, The Neuro, 514 398-3376,

Contact: Francine BlackBurn, Media Relations advisor, Desjardins Group, 514 281-7000 ext. 7544,


September 4, 2013