MND Australia

Daniel McLoone Major Research Initiative

We are excited to announce the recipients of the Daniel McLoone Major Research Initiative jointly funded by MND Research Australia (MNDRA) and FightMND.

This unique research initiative was made possible by an incredibly generous bequest by Daniel McLoone’s family from his estate following his death.  

The grants aim to support an outstanding innovative and collaborative project that has the capacity to make a significant impact on Australian MND research. Due to the incredibly high standard of the applications for this funding, MNDRA has worked with FightMND to double the amount available for this grant program enabling us to jointly fund two projects.

Each project will receive a total of $1M over four years. An innovative aspect of the funding is that each project must support an early-career researcher (ECR) who will play a major role in driving the outcomes of the research. An additional requirement was that the projects must build collaboration across the Australian MND research community, with significant contributions made by researchers outside of the host institution.

The two projects funded are:

Exploring disease heterogeneity across MND clinical phenotypes using a multimodal, multicentre neuroimaging approach

This project is being led by Dr Thanuja Dharmadasa from the University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. 

The clinical variability between patients with MND is well recognised, but we do not understand what drives these differences.  What this can mean for patients is that

 “No one seems to know what comes next and I’ve been a bit distressed…Just the prognosis and how things will progress- and I guess life expectancy is a thing that has been in our mind quite a lot.”  (Quote from a person living with MND).

This long-term study will build an integrative national network to use advanced brain neuroimaging and detailed clinical assessments to follow patients through their disease journey and identify different clinical subgroups. It is hoped this will significantly increase our understanding of disease mechanisms and develop imaging markers that can differentiate the MND subtypes. For people living with MND, this research will lead to better prediction of disease progress and spread, earlier as well as more specific implementation of management and treatment strategies. This knowledge can also inform the future design of clinical trials for the development of targeted treatment strategies.


Australian Preclinical Research ALS (APRALS) Network: a roadmap for effective translation of therapeutics for sporadic MND

This project is being led by Professor Bradley Turner at the University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

This project will launch Australian Preclinical Research ALS (APRALS), a national collaborative network which aims to accelerate development of novel treatment candidates towards clinical trials in MND. The network will bring together distinct and advanced expertise in human stem cell technology and animal models of MND to develop a novel class of powerful DNA designer drugs targeting key aspects of sporadic MND. By targeting these key aspects of sporadic MND, the researchers will significantly improve the ability to translate findings in animal and human models of MND into the clinic. It is hoped APRALS can provide a rich pipeline of promising treatment candidates for clinical trials applicable to the majority of people living with MND.