Our funded research

Our vision is a world without motor neuron disease (MND) and for decades we’ve been investing in cutting-edge research to help ‘make time count’ against MND.

Our funded projects

We’re targeting our investments to find new MND treatments and bring them into clinical trials as quickly and as safely as possible, as well as improving quality of care for people affected by MND. During 2023/24 we have supported:

  • 9 major research projects
  • 4 PhD studentships
  • 1 Clinical Fellowship
  • 2 Gordon Aikman Scholarships
  • The UK’s biggest ever MND clinical trial
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Treatment pipeline
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to take potential treatments into people, including clinical trials

Identifying targets
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for therapies and mechanisms underlying MND

Improving care
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standards for people affected by MND

Our current projects

To find out more, download our PDF with more detail on our research strategy.

Treatment pipeline to take potential therapies into people

£30,598 to Dr Francisco Inesta Vaquera, University of Dundee, to develop a pre-clinical model to understand how the protein TDP-43, which is associated with most forms of MND, damages cells. Co-funded in partnership with Alzheimer Research UK, bringing total investment to £61,196. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information.  

£198,790 to Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi, King’s College London, to investigate whether human endogenous retroviruses are involved in MND pathology and could be a candidate target for therapeutic development. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information.

£141,011 to Professor Robert Layfield, University of Nottingham, to understand how extracellular vesicles might be altered in MND and determine whether they could be used to develop a new biomarker for MND. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£149,607 to Professor Thomas Gillingwater, University of Edinburgh, to understand how and when protein synthesis is disrupted by TDP-43 accumulation in motor neurons. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£75,000 to Dr Jenna Gregory, University of Aberdeen, to understand the role of microglia in neuroinflammation and whether this differs in subgroups of people with MND. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£84,059 to Dr Tatyana Shelkovnikova, University of Sheffield, for creation of a cell model, for use in a therapeutic drug screen, to detect novel molecules that might prevent motor neuron loss by interacting with Stathmin-2. Due to complete in 2025. Click here for more information. 

£86,310 to Professor Kevin Talbot, University of Oxford, to understand the contribution of microglia to motor neuron death in MND. Due to complete in 2026. Click here for more information.

£14,892 to Professor William Stewart, University of Glasgow, to understand whether traumatic brain injury is a risk factor in the development of MND. Co-funded in partnership with MND Association and My Name’s Doddie Foundation, bringing total investment to £44,678. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information

£224,805 to Professor Roger Whittaker, University of Newcastle, to investigate whether MRI scanning of motor units in people with MND can be developed as a diagnostic and progression biomarker for MND. Due to complete in 2027. Click here for more information.

£30,598 to Dr Francisco Inesta Vaquera, University of Dundee, to develop a pre-clinical model to understand how the protein TDP-43, which is associated with most forms of MND, damages cells. Co-funded in partnership with Alzheimer Research UK, bringing total investment to £61,196. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£198,790 to Professor Ammar Al-Chalabi, King’s College London, to investigate whether human endogenous retroviruses are involved in MND pathology and could be a candidate target for therapeutic development. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. £141,011 to Professor Robert Layfield, University of Nottingham, to understand how extracellular vesicles might be altered in MND and determine whether they could be used to develop a new biomarker for MND. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£149,607 to Professor Thomas Gillingwater, University of Edinburgh, to understand how and when protein synthesis is disrupted by TDP-43 accumulation in motor neurons. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£75,000 to Dr Jenna Gregory, University of Aberdeen, to understand the role of microglia in neuroinflammation and whether this differs in subgroups of people with MND. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£84,059 to Dr Tatyana Shelkovnikova, University of Sheffield, for creation of a cell model, for use in a therapeutic drug screen, to detect novel molecules that might prevent motor neuron loss by interacting with Stathmin-2. Due to complete in 2025. Click here for more information. 

£86,310 to Professor Kevin Talbot, University of Oxford, to understand the contribution of microglia to motor neuron death in MND. Due to complete in 2026. Click here for more information. 

£14,892 to Professor William Stewart, University of Glasgow, to understand whether traumatic brain injury is a risk factor in the development of MND. Co-funded in partnership with MND Association and My Name’s Doddie Foundation, bringing total investment to £44,678. Due to complete in 2024. Click here for more information. 

£224,805 to Professor Roger Whittaker, University of Newcastle, to investigate whether MRI scanning of motor units in people with MND can be developed as a diagnostic and progression biomarker for MND. Due to complete in 2027. Click here for more information.

£125,000 to Kristine Roberts, from NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen, to seeking new biomarkers of MND which could be used to detect the disease early, ideally before symptoms present. Due to complete in 2027. Click here for more information.

£6,143 to Dr Ian Morrison, NHS Tayside, to study the impact of spiritual care intervention for people affected by MND. Co-funded in partnership with the Scottish Government, bringing the total investment to £12,286. Project completed in 2023. More info 

 

£12,152 to Ms Louise Murrie, NHS Fife, to develop a standardised Advanced Care Planning process for people with MND. Co-funded in partnership with the Scottish Government, bringing the total investment to £24,303. Due to complete in 2023. More info 

 

£77,442 to Dr Eneida Mioshi, University of East Anglia, to understand factors affecting anticipatory grief in carers of people living with MND. Due to complete in 2024. More info 

 

£153,843 to Professor Sharon Abrahams, University of Edinburgh, to investigate the impact of cognitive and behavioural changes in people living with MND on their capacity to make decisions about their care and medical treatment. Due to complete in 2024.  More info 

 

£224,983.00 to Dr Esther Hobson, University of Sheffield, to develop the digital Telehealth in Motor Neuron Disease (TiM) system for assisting patients, carers and clinical staff in improving identification and treatment of problems caused by MND. Due to complete in 2024. More info

 

£75,174.76 to Dr Alisdair McNeill, University of Sheffield, to understand whether relatives of people affected by a heritable form of MND are using the reproductive options available to them and understand the barriers to access. Due to complete in 2026. More info

Together we’re making a difference

Every year our understanding of motor neuron disease gets better. Find out more about the research projects building our understanding of the mechanisms behind MND and the latest research news.

Response to Durham University research into multiple rugby concussions and neurodegenerative diseases

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.

How research is funded

Patient priorities drive and shape charity research so that funding gets directed to where it will make the most difference to people’s lives

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Working together to beat MND

MND Scotland believes that strength is forged through partnership and we are actively engaging with our colleagues in MND charities worldwide, as well as universities, the Scottish Government and funding bodies, to help accelerate MND research.

Two major initiatives are:

UK MND Translational Research Institute

In 2022 we invested £250,000 into an exciting new MND collective partnership to establish the foundations of a UK-wide research institute aimed at speeding up the development of better treatments for people with MND. This £4.25 million initiative is led by the charity LifeArc, in partnership with MND Association, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and MND Scotland, as well as government funders the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

United to End MND

Led by people living with MND, this high-impact campaign brought together MND charities across the UK, including MND Scotland, to campaign for improved investment in MND research from the UK Government. In November 2021 we succeeded in securing a pledge of £50 million over five years. The expectation is that this funding will build on, and further develop, the UK wide MND Research Institute.

Together we’re making a difference

Since 1998 support for MND Scotland has enabled us to fund:

MND-SMART

The UK’s biggest ever MND clinical drug trial was enabled in 2018 following a £1.5 million investment by the MND Scotland. The trial launched in 2020 and, for most people living with MND across Scotland, access to the trial provided the first opportunity for them to be involved in testing potential new treatments for motor neuron disease. 

In 2023 we announced a further £2 million of funding so that MND-SMART can continue to operate for an additional five years, providing a clinical trial infrastructure that is ready to quickly test potential new treatments identified by researchers.

CARE-MND

MND Scotland funding established the first MND patient registry in the world in 1989. Between 2010 and 2019, we invested over £500,000 to develop this into the online CARE-MND nationwide MND register which provides both comprehensive monitoring of patients and a mechanism for people with MND to participate in research. (99% of people with MND in Scotland are registered with CARE-MND) CARE-MND is recognized as a ‘gold-standard’ world-leading, MND patient registry.

Edinburgh Brain and Tissue Bank

Since 2008 MND Scotland has recognised the value to researchers of a dedicated MND brain and tissue ‘bank’, funding the establishment this valuable facility. It is the only brain bank in Scotland and tissue generously donated by people with MND is made available to researchers in the UK, and around the world, who are working towards finding a cure for MND. 

MND Scotland continues to support this MND Brain bank, which is linked to the CARE-MND platform and, as a result, is considered to be a world-leading resource.

For researchers

Are you an MND researcher? You can help us create a world without MND and improve the lives of those living with the illness today.

Find out more about our funding applications and how you can help make time count.

You can help create a world without MND