Clinical Academic Fellowship Announced for MND Research

MND Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist Office have appointed a three-year Clinical Academic Fellow to investigate potential causes of, and therapies for, motor neuron disease (MND).

Kristine Roberts, from NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen, will undertake a PhD focussed on seeking new biomarkers of MND which could be used to detect the disease early, ideally before symptoms present. The ambition of the project is to create a test for routine samples, such as blood or small tissue biopsies, without the need for invasive brain or cerebral spinal fluid sampling.

The project is also interested in investigating whether these same biomarkers could be targeted with therapeutics to slow or prevent the disease, with a particular interest in the role the immune system is playing. Testing for immune cell markers and targeting these markers has proven effective in cancer research, with many current cancer therapies functioning by reactivating the immune system to fight cancer cells.

MND Scotland and the Chief Scientist Office are each contributing £125,000 with the aim of building research capacity in the area of MND in the Scottish NHS.

This announcement will bring the total investment from MND Scotland since 2015, across three partnership fellowships over nine years, to £344,000, co-funded with the Scottish Government providing an additional £296,000 across the three fellowships over the same period.

This three-year Clinical Academic Fellowship started in April 2024.

Kristine Roberts said: “To my knowledge, this is a completely novel approach to identifying new therapeutic targets and biomarkers for MND and, if successful, provides a treatment strategy that could be beneficial for disease prevention as well as treatment of people with advanced symptoms.

“The support from MND Scotland and the Chief Scientist Office via this Clinical Academic Fellowship has made it possible for me to start my own research career whilst maintaining my clinical laboratory role, an opportunity that is difficult to come by and one I am extremely grateful for.

“It is particularly encouraging to see funding bodies, such as MND Scotland and the Chief Scientist Office, broadening funding opportunities to include clinical scientists. The knowledge and laboratory skills that clinical scientists are equipped with is invaluable and essential to progression of medical research.”

MND Scotland funds research into all aspects of motor neuron disease (MND), from understanding the mechanisms underlying MND and identifying new targets for therapies to improving standards of care.

Dr Jane Haley, Director of Research at MND Scotland, said: “A warm welcome to Kristine as she joins the MND Scotland community of researchers.

“With this joint funding, we are taking a further step towards understanding the causes of MND and the search for effective treatments.

“We are proud of our ongoing partnership with the Scottish Government. This is our third joint funded fellowship and will further build MND research capacity within the NHS in Scotland.”

The Scottish Government’s Chief Scientist for Health, Anna Dominiczak, said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with MND Scotland to deliver another Clinical Academic Fellowship to support research into this devastating condition.

“The research that Kristine Roberts will undertake will help to progress ways of detecting the disease early as well as contribute to building our clinical research capacity in this area in Scotland.”



Latest news

Sign up
for newsletter

Get the latest news and events straight to your inbox

Step 1 of 2


You can help create a world without MND