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Generous donation to support Motor Neuron Disease research

Professor Sue Fletcher with Assunta Meleca
Professor Sue Fletcher (left) with Assunta Meleca (right)

Murdoch University’s efforts to understand the causes and develop treatments for Motor Neuron Disease (MND) have received a significant funding boost. The Racing for MNDi Foundation has donated $75,333 to support the salary of an independent researcher throughout 2020. This donation brings their total donations to Murdoch University in support of MND research to an astounding $510,333.

The Racing for MNDi Foundation works to raise the profile of MND in Australia and seek treatments through genetic based medical research.

MND is a progressive, degenerative disorder of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. It results in weakness and wasting of muscles causing the person to lose the ability to communicate while their intellect and senses remain intact. The average life expectancy for someone with MND is 2.5 years after diagnosis.

The collaborative MND research program is overseen by Professor Sue Fletcher, Senior Principal Research Fellow at Murdoch University.

“The funding from the Racing for MNDi Foundation underpins an interinstitutional MND collaboration of researchers and clinicians in Perth. We are delighted to be welcoming an experienced MND researcher to our team and are deeply grateful to the Racing for MNDi Foundation for making this strategic appointment possible, and for their ongoing support for our work,” she said.

Racing for MNDi Foundation founder Assunta Meleca’s fight against MND began after witnessing multiple family members struggle with the disease. She has lost six family members to MND including her grandparents, father, uncle, sister and her cousin.

The inherited form of MND is found in up to 20 per cent of people diagnosed with the disease, and Meleca says the key driver for establishing the Racing for MNDi Foundation was to ensure that as many families as possible did not have to experience the pain hers has.

“Racing for MNDi is excited about our recent Gift Agreement made for part of the salary of a Postdoctoral Scientist, in support of MND research being undertaken at Murdoch University,” she said.

“Headed by Prof Sue Fletcher, the researchers work innovatively, taking a collaborative approach, so as not to replicate what already exists. This affirms our confidence that our funds are being well spent in the race to find treatments for such a complex disease; and even more so, we are optimistic that our contributions are helping make scientific progress that may not have otherwise been possible.”

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