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New funds to boost research into Motor Neurone Disease

08 August 2007 Research into Motor Neurone Disease was given a massive boost with the announcement that the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association will be working in collaboration with the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the creation of a new Fellowship Programme for clinicians.

The Lady Edith Wolfson Fellowships aim to attract and develop outstanding young clinicians in MND research, in order to create new scientific leaders in the field, increase understanding of the disease and identify promising new treatments.

This collaboration means that additional funding will be made available to tackle this devastating disease which researchers currently know very little about. There is currently no effective treatment, no diagnostic test and no known cure for MND.

In recent years, promoting and strengthening translational research has been a key priority for both the MRC and MND Association, with both organisations keen to turn good science into patient benefit.

Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development at the MND Association said: “A major challenge in medical research is finding ways of translating knowledge of a disease into therapies that can be tested in patients. Good researchers are essential to good research and clinician-scientists are in the best position to move ideas from the lab to the clinic and on to people with MND.”

Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the MRC said: “The MRC is constantly looking for new ways to use its resources, alone or with funding partners, to attract the brightest young clinicians into research. Many of the clinicians we fund work on disorders for which treatments are inadequate or non-existent, and for which there are no known cures. Any doctor finds it devastating to tell a patient that this is the case, but it helps when they can say, “but I’m working on that”.”

The first award under this agreement will be made in February 2008.

Contact:

Mel Barry Communications Manager
01604 611887
mel.barry@mndassociation.org

Notes to editors

Translational medicine is the term suggested to describe the process from basic research findings to clinical studies in humans.

The MND Association will be contributing £1 million pound which was donated in memory of Lady Edith Wolfson who died of MND.

Awards under this scheme are available at three levels:

Clinical Research Training Fellowships: this award provides up to three years support for clinically qualified professionals to undertake research training. The scheme is designed to accommodate the dual clinical-research training career path by allowing Fellows to spend 20 per cent of their time on NHS sessions. The cost of each Clinical Research Training Fellowship will be met by 50 per cent funding from both the MRC and MND Association.

Clinical Scientist Fellowships: this award is a post-doctoral Fellowship providing up to four years support for laboratory-based studies. The cost of each Clinical Scientist Fellowship will be met by 75 per cent funding from the MRC and 25 per cent funding from MND Association.

Senior Clinical Fellowships: this award provides up to five years support to clinical researchers of exceptional ability. Applicants are expected to be proven independent researchers in a field of investigation relevant to MND, to be well-qualified for academic research and to demonstrate promise as future research leaders. The cost will be met by 85 per cent funding from the MRC and 15 per cent from the MND Association.

The MND Association’s Research Strategy is in alignment with the MRC’s agenda which is to support the translation of the UK’s world-leading genetic and molecular science platform into innovative approaches to prevention, diagnosis and therapy. The MND Association aims to support a targeted preclinical research programme which facilitates the development of a sustainable translational research pipeline through to clinical trials.

The Medical Research Council is dedicated to improving human health through excellent science. It invests on behalf of the UK taxpayer. Its work ranges from molecular level science to public health research, carried out in universities, hospitals and a network of its own units and institutes. The MRC liaises with the Health Departments, the National Health Service and industry to take account of the public’s needs. The results have led to some of the most significant discoveries in medical science and benefited the health and wealth of millions of people in the UK and around the world. www.mrc.ac.uk