Cameco Multiple Sclerosis Neuroscience Research Centre

The CMSNRC operates under the auspices of the University of Saskatchewan. Basic biomedical research is carried out in at the central laboratory facility in Saskatoon City Hospital and other laboratories of the Principal Investigators on the University of Saskatchewan main campus, while clinical research occurs principally in the MS Clinic space in Saskatoon City Hospital, in close proximity to the central research laboratory.

Our facility houses state-of-art research equipment acquired through the initial Quest for a Cure funds, continuing support by generous donors and Cameco and, most recently, because of a Canadian Foundation for Innovation award to Dr. Bogdan Popescu, our Canada Research Chair in biomedical MS research. This equipment enables us to carry out cell and tissue based biological research using tissue culture, protein biochemistry, molecular biology, histology and computer-assisted microscopy approaches. In addition, Dr. Michael C. Levin, the inaugural Saskatchewan Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Research Chair, has his research team here, who perform cutting-edge research on the role of RNA binding proteins in the pathogenesis of MS.

Our most recent acquisitions include a LI-COR Odyssey Infrared Imager to analyze proteins with high sensitivity and a cryostat to cut frozen tissue sections. We have also purchased a fluorescence microscope with ability to grab sequential photos and three-dimensionally reconstruct cells we examine, and a vibratome that allows us to cut thick uniform slices of non frozen experimental tissues. The 2012 Canadian Foundation for Innovation award to Dr. Popescu, leveraged in part by a generous donation by Cameco, allowed the establishment of a cutting edge neuropathology suite. The Cameco Neuropathology Suite helps accommodate the infrastructure research needs of Dr. Popescu and bolster those of other CMSNRC PIs and will propel us onto center stage with respect to neuropathological analysis. It also allows Dr. Popescu to conduct simultaneous analysis of tissue sections with his collaborators at the Mayo Clinic collaborators.

The equipment housed in the Cameco Neuropathology Suite helps shed new light on the pathogenesis of MS and involvement of metals in MS. The high quality microscope with an associated scanner permits ultra-high resolution photographing of large human biopsy and autopsy tissue sections, efficient histopathological and immunohistochemical characterization of early and late MS lesions from brain biopsies, acute and chronic autopsies, and animal models. These tools allow accurate classification of tissue samples into distinct MS patterns by careful examination of the severity and quality of white matter lesion, nature of the inflammatory response and extent of tissue damage and repair. All this gives insight into how MS progresses and if therapeutic interventions have been successful. Used in parallel with the Canadian Light Source synchrotron imaging, the infrastructure helps us investigate dysregulation of proteins involved in metal metabolism in metal-associated human MS patterns and appropriate animal models. Another extraordinary tool is the laser microdissection microscope that allows Dr. Popescu to isolate individual cell types and intracellular organelles within MS pathological samples, so that he can perform extensive molecular and protein analysis from limited biopsy materials. Finally, the neuropathology suite includes a tabletop scanning electron microscope allowing for high resolution of cellular components such as the protective myelin sheath that is damaged during MS attacks.

Our infrastructure is accessible by all PIs, who expedite research and conduct detailed studies to determine how cells of the nervous system perform their normal function, and how they respond to disease or damage. We hope an understanding of the cellular mechanisms and interactions which govern normal function of the nervous system, and its reaction to disease or injury, will lead to development of new clinical intervention strategies.

The CMSNRC also supports clinical research projects carried out in the beautiful and spacious MS Clinic at Saskatoon City Hospital or in the newly opened clinical trials facility at Saskatoon City Hospital called the Saskatoon Centre for PatientOriented Research (SCPOR), which serves patients from all over northern Saskatchewan. Here, MS patients in rehabilitation are evaluated to determine how well they respond to currently available or emerging new drugs and new nonpharmacological therapies. Results from studies of patients in Saskatoon are integrated with the results of parallel studies in other centers across Canada.


The Cameco MS Neuroscience Research Centre has many University of Saskatchewan affiliates.

Dr. Larry Brawley, College of Kinesiology

Dr. Joseph Buttigeig, Dept. of Biology (University of Regina)

Dr. Jeff Dong, Dept. of Biochemistry, Microbiology & Immunology

Dr. Sarah Donkers, School of Rehabilitation Science

Dr. Charity Evans, College of Pharmacy & Nutrition

Dr. John Gordon, College of Medicine (Respirology)

Dr. Walter Hader, College of Medicine (Saskatoon Rehabilitation Centre) (Emeritus)

Dr. Bernhard Juurlink, College of Medicine (Anatomy and Cell Biology) (Emeritus)

Dr. Katherine Knox, College of Medicine (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation)

Dr. Anand Krishnan, College of Medicine (Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology)

Dr. Robert LaPrairie, College of Pharmacy & Nutrition

Dr. Michael Levin, College of Medicine (Neurology and Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology)

Dr. Adel Mohamed, College of Medicine (Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology)

Dr. Gillian Muir, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Helen Nichol, College of Medicine (Anatomy and Cell Biology) (Emerita)

Dr. Jonathan Norton, College of Medicine (Neurosurgery)

Dr. Phyllis Paterson, College of Pharmacy & Nutrition (Emerita)

Dr. Bogdan Popescu, College of Medicine (Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology)

Dr. Valerie Verge, College of Medicine (Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology)

Dr. Jim Xiang, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency