Opportunities

This page is designed to help researchers and people looking for research opportunities find each other. We want to make it easier for people to make MND their area of focus and hope that the advancements that come out of these projects will make a positive difference to the MND community.

If you have a vacancy or are looking for a specific opportunity please contact us.

FightMND - 2019 Research Grants

The Foundation has gathered leading MND researchers, neurologists, and experienced clinical trials physicians from Australia and abroad to lead our drug development program and research grant process, and to help facilitate the roll out clinical trials in Australian MND clinics.

Research Grant Criteria

Researchers working in areas relevant to improving the translation of/or progressing the development of potential therapies for Motor Neuron Disease (MND) are invited to apply for funding to support research projects commencing in 2019.

We are pleased to announce a call for the following FightMND Research Grants.

 1. CLINICAL TRIAL GRANTS

These grants support Phase II/III clinical trials of novel, high-potential treatments for MND/ALS within the Australian Clinical Trials Consortium.

Click here to download a copy of the Clinical Trial Grants Criteria

These grants are awarded with an offer of AUD $500,000 – $1,000,000 (Phase II trial) up to $1,500,000 (Phase III trial) with a project performance of up to 3 years.

 Eligibility: Applications are open to MND/ALS researchers globally. Australian trial sites mandatory.

 KEY DATES

·         Applications Open: November 1st 2018

·         Letter of Intent due: January 19th 2019

·         Submit Letter of Intent to: research@fightmnd.org.au

·         Invitation to submit full application: 9th February 2019

·         Full application due: April 1st 2019

·         Recipients Announced: Late June 2019

2. DRUG DEVELOPMENT GRANTS

These grants support the preclinical research, development and assessment of therapeutics for MND/ALS through to (and including) completion of Phase I clinical trials.

Click here to download a copy of the Drug Development Criteria

These grants are each awarded with an offer of up to AUD $1,000,000 in support available for 3-year projects (Projects with a period of performance of less than 3-years will also be considered).

·         Eligibility: Applications are open to MND/ALS researchers globally.

·         Applications Open: November 1st 2018

·         Letter of Intent due: January 19th 2019

·         Submit Letter of Intent to: research@fightmnd.org.au

·         Invitation to submit full application: 9th February 2019

·         Full application due: April 1st 2019

·         Recipients Announced: Late June 2019

 3. IMPACT GRANTS

IMPACT (IMProving and ACcelerating Translation) Grants support projects focused on one or more of the following key issues contributing to the lack of translation of effective treatments through to clinical trial for MND/ALS

i. Disease heterogeneity

ii. Lack of relevant preclinical models

iii. A lack of reliable disease biomarkers

iv. The challenge of drug delivery into the brain

v. A lack of effective targeted gene therapies

vi. The untapped potential of stem cell therapy

Click here to download a copy of the IMPACT Grant Criteria

These grants are for support of 2-year projects up to the value of AUD $250,000. Proposals for both discovery and translational research stages will be considered.

Eligibility: Applications are invited for research based in institutions within Australia. Investigators at all academic levels are eligible to submit applications.

KEY DATES

·         Applications Open: November 1st 2018

·         Full application due: April 1st 2019

·         Recipients Announced: Late June 2019

 Please see individual grant application guidelines for further information or for further enquiries,

please contact Dr Bec Sheean, FightMND Research Manager, research@fightmnd.org.au

ALS Research Forum - Funding Opportunities

The ALS Research Forum has a comprehensive list of funding opportunities available.
Definitely worth a look.

POSTGRAD STUDENT | University of Auckland | Do blood sera from people with Motor Neuron Disease harbour blood-brain barrier leakage factors or neurovascular toxins?

Project Code: 10437873
Faculty: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Department: Pharmacology
Main Supervisor: Dr Emma Scotter
Application open date: 11 Oct 2018
Application deadline: 11 Jan 2019
Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International

Introduction

Motor neuron disease (MND) is a fatal and incurable movement disorder affecting ~1 in 15,000 New Zealanders. MND is a neurodegenerative disorder predominantly affecting the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord. This project will use the incredible resources of living human brain cells, and serum from the blood of people living with MND and controls. The student will compare the neuroinflammatory profiles of the sera themselves, and the cells exposed to MND patient versus control sera.

The student will be based at the Centre for Brain Research at Grafton Campus. The Centre for Brain Research embraces a unique model of neuroscience that fosters collaboration. Scientists, doctors and students work together at every level; from the laboratory to the clinic to whaanau and the community, enabling us to provide novel insights on how the brain stimulates, controls and interacts with the rest of the body.

This pilot project is part of a larger program of research and there is potential for a successful candidate to continue onto a Masters or PhD project. 

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

We are looking for a high achieving, hard working and collegial student for this exciting project. Please apply directly to Emma Scotter: emma.scotter@auckland.ac.nz

Objective

We have collected blood sera from a pilot cohort of controls and people living with motor neuron disease. This project seeks to test whether these blood sera show evidence of neuroinflammatory processes or blood-brain barrier leakage. Sera will also be applied to live human brain pericytes in order to assess whether the degeneration of pericytes in MND relates to their exposure to serum with toxic properties. This work complements a wider program of work investigating blood-brain and blood-spinal cord barrier leakage in motor neuron disease using a range of human tissues.

To apply or if  you have questions please email Dr Emma Scotter in the first instance.

POSTGRAD STUDENT | University of Auckland | Is ubiquilin 2 a therapeutic drug target in Motor Neuron Disease?

Project Code: 10437852
University:
Auckland
Faculty: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Department: Pharmacology
Main Supervisor: Dr Emma Scotter
Application open date: 11 Oct 2018
Application deadline: 11 Jan 2019
Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents

Introduction

Motor neuron disease (MND) is a fatal and incurable movement disorder affecting approximately 1 in 15,000 New Zealanders. Motor neurons within the brain and spinal cord degenerate, causing progressive loss of movement function. Around 15% of cases are caused by known genetic mutations, including mutations in a gene called UBQLN2.

This study will examine whether specific UBQLN2 gene mutations cause pathology in human brain tissue, and test the role of ubiquilin 2 protein in cells in culture. UBQLN2 gene mutations are an extremely rare cause of MND so the study will use brain tissue generously bequeathed by patients from several different countries.

Accordingly, the study is a collaboration with international experts Prof. Chris Shaw of King’s College London, Prof. Garth Nicholson of the University of Sydney, and Prof. Teepu Siddique of NorthWestern University, USA. The main supervisor for the study is Dr. Emma Scotter. The student will be based at the Centre for Brain Research at Grafton Campus.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

We are looking for a high achieving, hard working and collegial student for this exciting project. Please apply directly to Emma Scotter: emma.scotter@auckland.ac.nz

Objective

To examine the accumulation of protein aggregates in brain tissue bequeathed by people with MND with or without UBQLN2 gene mutations, and in cells grown in culture. The student will use state-of-the-art imaging and automated image analysis techniques.
Skills taught
• Human brain immunohistochemistry
• Mammalian cell culture
• High throughput imaging
• Confocal imaging
• Automated image analysis
• Scientific writing

To apply or if you have questions please email Dr Emma Scotter in the first instance.

POSTGRAD STUDENT | University of Auckland | Do pericytes manifest Motor Neuron Disease phenotypes in situ and in vitro?

Project Code: 10437939
University: 
Auckland
Faculty: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences 
Department: Pharmacology
Main Supervisor: Dr Emma Scotter
Application open date: 11 Oct 2018
Application deadline: 11 Jan 2019
Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents

Introduction

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a fatal and incurable movement disorder affecting approximately 1 in 15,000 New Zealanders. Motor neurons within the brain and spinal cord degenerate, causing progressive loss of movement function.

Approximately 10% of cases are caused by mutations in the C9ORF72 gene. These gene mutations are “repeat expansions” which cause the transcription of toxic RNA and peptides. While abundant in neurons, it is unknown whether these toxic species exist in non-neuronal cell types such as the cells of the blood-brain barrier cells known as pericytes. The blood-brain barrier is know to be dysfunctional in MND, exacerbating the death of motor neurons. If pericytes are intrinsically affected by disease they may be a target for therapeutics to restore blood-brain barrier function and a useful in vitro cell model for drug screening.

The student will be based at the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland. This pilot project is part of a larger program of research and there is potential for a successful candidate to continue into a Masters or PhD project.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

We are looking for a high achieving, hard working and collegial student for this exciting project. Please apply directly to Emma Scotter: emma.scotter@auckland.ac.nz

Objective

This study will examine human brain tissue and living human brain cells (cultured pericytes) from people with C9ORF72 mutations and controls in order to determine whether RNA and peptide elements associated with these gene mutations are present in pericytes.

Skills taught

  • Human brain immunohistochemistry
  • Human brain cell culture
  • In situ hybridisation to detect C9ORF72 mutant RNA aggregates
  • Immunocytochemistry to detect C9ORF72 mutant peptides
  • Automated imaging and image analysis
  • Scientific writing

To apply or if you have questions please email Dr Emma Scotter in the first instance.

POSTGRAD STUDENT | University of Auckland | Building a Brain Machine Interface for song production

Project Code: 10387354
University: Auckland
Faculty: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
Department: Anatomy
Main Supervisor: Dr M Fabiana Kubke
Application open date: 02 Oct 2017
Application deadline:
Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International

Introduction

Brain machine interfaces are used to extract the neural code associated with a behaviour, and use that code to drive a robotic device. In the context of human health, it allows people with motor disabilities to have their brains ‘talk’ directly to a device, such as a prosthetic arm.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

The project involves understanding the models of auditory-vocal learning and vocal production, understanding how vocal motor commands are coded in ‘motor cortex’, how these can be analysed through machine learning algorithms, and animal behaviour analysis. Students with a background in biology, neuroscience, mathematics, engineering or bioengineering are encouraged to apply.

Objective

We are currently trying to exploit this technology to study how auditory and somatosensory information contribute to the production of speech. We are using a song bird as an animal model because the neural substrates and the process of learning song are similar to those of humans. To separate the processes that are involved in the ‘intention’ to sing from the act of singing itself, we are training birds to learn how to ‘sing’ (through a brain machine interface) using an audio speaker rather than through their vocal apparatus.

Information on how to enroll and apply 

Contact the project supervisor

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