For researchers

As a researcher you can help us create a world without motor neuron disease (MND) and improve the lives of those living with the illness today.

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Research applications

We welcome research applications that address issues related to:

  • Improve standards of care for people affected by MND
  • Enable a pipeline for taking potential treatments into people, including clinical trials
  • Understand the mechanisms underlying MND and identify new targets for therapies

Hear about our funding calls

If you are a researcher and want to hear about our latest funding calls and research news, you can sign up to our researcher’s newsletter or if you would like to discuss a research proposal please email us.

Our funding schemes

Applications for our PhD Studentships and Clinical Fellowships are now open.

For more information and to apply, please click on the relevant scheme below.

By funding clinical trials we aim to discover effective treatments and a possible cure for MND.

Next call: expressions of interest will be considered on an ongoing basis. Please email research@mndscotland.org.uk for more information.

Our Research Project grants are for scientific, clinical, and social research into MND, and are designed to generate a strong evidence base.

Individuals can apply for funding not exceeding £75,000 per annum and £225,000 in total.

Next call: TBC

 

Our PhD studentships are intended to encourage graduates to embark on a research career within the area of motor neuron disease. Applications are welcome from all areas of MND-relevant research.

Click here to see guidance from previous funding calls.

Next call: anticipated to open Summer 2024

Our clinical fellowship is designed to encourage clinicians to undertake academic research in MND, provide training in clinical and/or laboratory techniques and leading to a higher degree – usually a PhD.

Next call: TBC

Joint-funded by MND Scotland and the Scottish Government, with an annual £25,000 investment from each, these scholarships are for projects directly relevant to the care or management of people with MND.

Next call: TBC

*The Clinical Fellowship is co-funded by the Chief Scientist Office.

**The Gordon Aikman Scholarship is co-funded by the Scottish Government and is administered by The University of Edinburgh.

Research strategy

We are committed to making time count for people affected by MND. Our 2022 – 2025 research strategy sets out how we plan to do this.

Latest research news

MND Scotland Trustee, Professor Richard Ribchester on the progress of MND research

To mark National Research Appreciation Day, our trustee, Professor Richard Ribchester, shares his thoughts on the progress and future of motor neuron disease (MND) research. 

New research project could improve MND diagnosis, monitoring and research

The new research project, run by Professor Roger Whittaker, a consultant clinical neurophysiologist at the University of Newcastle, will investigate whether it is possible to lay the foundations for a non-invasive investigation using standard hospital MRI scanners.

The grant review process; perspective of an Early Career Researcher

Dr Hannah Smith, a postdoctoral motor neuron disease (MND) researcher at the University of Edinburgh, has been an observatory, non-voting member involved in MND Scotland’s grant reviews since January 2024.

Our scientific advisory panel

Our Scientific Advisory Panel is responsible for peer review and setting MND Scotland’s research strategy, amongst other responsibilities.

Richard Ribchester

Co-chair, Scientific Advisory Panel

Richard Ribchester is an Emeritus Professor of Cellular Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. He has a long-standing research interest in MND and founded the Edinburgh Motor Neuron Disease (EdMoND) research group in 2006, which later led to the establishment of the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research.

Prof. Julia Edgar

Co-chair, Scientific Advisory Panel

Professor Edgar is a Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow, with an interest in myelinated axons. Julia has received numerous awards from the MS Society and Medical Research Council.

Dr Danielle Leighton

Committee Member

Dr Leighton is a clinical lecturer at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Glasgow. Danielle qualified in medicine from the University of Glasgow where she also gained a BSc in Psychological Medicine. In 2015, she undertook a PhD looking at the clinical characteristics and underlying genetic makeup of people with MND in Scotland.

Colin Jones

Lay Member

Colin has had a lifelong interest in aviation. He served in the Royal Air Force for 13 years, achieving his childhood ambition, before spending 30 years operating civilian helicopters. He retired in 2016 when he was diagnosed with MND. Colin brings his experience of living with MND to our research grant funding decisions.

Alan Ogg

Lay Member

Alan’s career has been in the world of education, starting in teaching, then acting as an HM Inspector of Education and independent consultant and evaluator in the UK and UAE. Alan’s wife, Liz, was diagnosed with MND in 2013 and died in 2016 after a brave struggle. He brings his experience of caring for and losing a loved one to our research grant funding decisions. 

Dr Hannah Smith

Early Career Researcher Member

Dr Smith is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh investigating the differences in protein synthesis between healthy and MND motor neurons. Her Neuroscience PhD focused on motor neuron development and the neuron-muscle connection.

Dr Arpan Mehta

Committee Member

Dr Mehta is a practising academic neurologist with a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. Arpan is joining the University of Dundee in 2024 where he will be using human induced pluripotent stem cells to understand the role of protein kinases in MND pathophysiology.

Debbie Atkins

Committee Member

Debbie, who lost her mother to MND, brings significant experience having successfully delivered strategic and operational marketing, communications, and brand management for a range of leading organisations.

Andrew Bethell

Committee Member

Andrew is an MND Clinical Nurse Specialist for NHS Highland, caring for people with MND and co-ordinating community and health services for families affected in the area.

Dr Ian Morrison

Committee Member

Dr Morrison is a Consultant Neurologist in NHS Tayside and an Honorary Reader at the University of Dundee. He is Clinical Lead for MND in Tayside and a Principal Investigator for the clinical drug trial, MND-SMART.

Prof. Simon Parson

Committee Member

Professor Parson’s research is focused on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Simon has a PhD in developmental neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh, and was appointed Chair in Anatomy at the University of Aberdeen and Regius Professor of Anatomy.

Dr. Judith Sleeman

Committee Member

Dr. Sleeman has a background in cell biology and cellular and molecular pathology. She is a lecturer at the University of St Andrews where she is investigating whether protein changes are causing cellular damage in MND.

Dr. Mandy Jackson

Committee Member

Dr. Jackson’s lab at the University of Edinburgh focuses on a group of inherited diseases (spinocerebellar ataxias) where patients lose the ability to coordinate their movement due to changes to and death of cells.

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Our policies

If your research will require input from people affected by MND, your research funding application needs to be accompanied by a completed ‘Involving people in research’ form. 

Download Form

This allows MND Scotland to assess what you need and decide whether we are able to provide the support you require. If your application is successful MND Scotland will automatically provide you with the assistance and advice your need to deliver your project.

Only where there is no alternative and where the outcomes of the research will be of benefit to those affected by MND, will MND Scotland provide funds which involves the use of animals. Those institutions that are supported by a grant from ourselves must demonstrate that they are adhering to the 3Rs principles of Reduction, Replacement, Refinement. We support the AMRC principles on the use of animals in research as outlined in this statement.

Unlike other funding bodies, we do not mandate that outputs must be published open access. In the case of publication in scientific journals, due effort should be made to ensure outputs are open access. You can budget for the publication of open-access journal articles in your application form. MND Scotland Grant Holders are entitled to publish in AMRC Open Research.

Along with 150 research funding charities in the UK, MND Scotland is a member of the AMRC. This means that we adhere to their recommendations and guidelines. It also means that, if you receive an award from us, your institute may be able to claim a contribution towards the indirect costs of your research.

Our Conflict-of-Interest policy ensures that MND Scotland staff, SAP members and expert reviewers are acting in the best interest of MND Scotland and in accordance with Association of Medical Research Charity guidelines. The policy outlines the steps taken to make certain our funding process is fair and unbiased for all grant applicants.

As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities we support the AMRC position statement on the importance of involvement in medical research.

online peer support

Frequently asked questions for applicants

Principal Investigators/Grant Holders must be based at a UK HE institution or Hospital. You must also have a contract that exceeds the end date of the project for which you are applying for funding (unless you are applying for a fellowship, in which case your institution must agree to host you for the duration of the award). Please see specific funding call information on the MND Scotland website for any additional eligibility requirements

MND Scotland award research funding via open competition funding calls. We will only accept applications to our funding schemes when a call is live and inviting applications. For more information, please see here. You can also sign up to our newsletter here or follow us on social media to ensure you are the first to know when one of our funding schemes is open.

Yes. Some of our research funding schemes are co-funded – this information will be made available in the individual funding calls

While we do not require matching funding to be made available by the applicant’s institution at the time of submission, we welcome any attempt made to augment the project proposal via additional funding sources.

No. As MND Scotland is a charity, indirect costs are not covered by us. Indirect costs include those expenses which are not explicitly associated with a given research project, such as heating and lighting buildings such as libraries, laboratories, etc. We will cover direct costs – such as salary and consumables. In the case of PhD Studentships, we will also cover the cost of stipends at UKRI rates and matriculation fees

A letter of support is needed when a partner is essential for the delivery of the project outlined in your grant application. If your proposed project involves translation to people affected by MND, it will be necessary to demonstrate how the findings from the project will be carried over into practice and letters of support will be essential. You may want to consider involving your partner as a coapplicant. Whether they are a formal co-applicant or a partner, you will need to clearly indicate which elements of your project your partner(s) have agreed to deliver and whether they have the staff and funding in place to do so.

All applications are subjected to a rigorous peer-review process. This involves external peer review by experts and review by our Scientific Advisory Panel, who are also researchers and experts in MND-related fields. Based on these reviews and discussions, the Scientific Advisory Board will recommend projects for funding to the Board of Trustees who make the final decision on which applications we will fund.

Please download (PDF) a copy of our full Research Grant Review Process here. For more information email research@mndscotland.org.uk.

We aim to reach a decision on which grant/s to award in a given funding round 3 months from the closing date. Due to the nature of the peer review process, this may not always be possible. In the event that it will take longer, this will be made known to you.

External peer reviewer feedback will be shared with you but please note that this may not be representative of the Scientific Advisory Panel discussion.

Research ProjectsPhD Studentships
YearNumber of ApplicationsNumber Awarded% of applications awardedNumber of ApplicationsNumber Awarded% of applications awarded
2021173189111
2022N/AN/AN/A11218
202361174125

If your funding application is successful and your research proposal requires input from people affected by MND, MND Scotland will provide you with assistance in developing appropriate materials and engagement plans to ensure your research is as successful as possible. To enable us to assess the level of input required, all funding applications where the proposed research requires input from people affected by MND must complete an additional ‘Involving People in research’ form here.

We support the AMRC principles on the use of animals in research as outlined in this statement. Only where there is no alternative and where the outcomes of the research will be of benefit to those affected by MND, will MND Scotland provide funds which involve the use of animals. Those institutions that are supported by a grant from MND Scotland must demonstrate that they are adhering to the 3Rs principles of Reduction, Replacement, and Refinement.

From 2022, MND Scotland operates a ‘profiled payment’ system whereby the annual budget is delivered in quarterly payments. The amounts to be paid, and the dates on which that takes place, are agreed in advance. Adjustments can be made to this, such as including the consumables budget upfront to allow for necessary large purchases early on in the research.

MND Scotland Grant Holders are expected to promote the dissemination of the results of their research by a) publishing in appropriate scientific journals; b) providing reports to MND Scotland; and c) Knowledge Exchange events.

We encourage MND Scotland funded researchers to publish their findings as open access publications, however, this is not mandated. All MND Scotland Grant Holders are entitled to publish in AMRC Open Research.

We are currently looking into the development of a small budget for Knowledge Exchange activities which our grant holders can access. In the meantime, we are open to suggestions. Throughout the calendar year, MND Scotland will organise their own Knowledge Exchange events and grant holders will be invited to participate. In such cases, expenses will be covered.

No. MND Scotland does not currently use Research Fish.

Hear about our funding calls

If you are a researcher and want to hear about our latest funding calls and research news, you can sign up to researcher’s newsletter or if you would like to discuss a research proposal please email us.

You can help create a world without MND