Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Researching motor neurone disease: highlight notice

Apply for funding to research motor neurone disease (MND).

You can get funding through any:

  • grants from MRC research boards or panels
  • MRC fellowships

You should apply through the existing funding opportunity that is most relevant to your science area and career stage.

We will usually fund up to 80% of your project’s full economic cost.

Who can apply

You must meet the criteria for the specific funding opportunity you are applying to.

To get advice on suitable funding opportunities, contact

What we're looking for

MRC in partnership with NIHR are seeking to encourage high-quality funding applications in MND to any of our research board or panel grant or fellowship opportunities.

About MND

MND is a devastating neurodegenerative disease, characterised by loss of motor neurone function. In patients suffering with MND, signals from the motor neurones gradually stop reaching the muscles causing them to weaken, stiffen and waste.

MND affects adults of any age but is more likely to affect people over the age of 50.

Currently, there are approximately 5,000 people living with MND in the UK, and the lifetime risk of developing MND is 1 in 300.

The average life expectancy of someone with MND from diagnosis is just 18 months and there is currently no cure. Treatments for MND therefore focus on helping reduce the impact MND has on a person’s daily life.

Research on MND is at an exciting juncture. Significant advances in understanding disease pathogenesis and identifying therapeutic targets are attracting unprecedented interest from industry and a genuine optimism that this disease is tractable.


Through this highlight notice, applicants are invited to submit innovative research proposals to MRC that aim to:

  • improve the mechanistic understanding of MND, including identification and validation of new biomarkers
  • investigate potential new therapeutic avenues

Find out about NIHR’s specific remit requirements.

Through this highlight notice, MRC and NIHR are encouraging applicants to work in partnership across the MND research community and with researchers in other relevant and aligned areas. Applicants will thereby continue to build upon the neurodegenerative research ecosystem.

How to apply

If you are considering submitting an application, please first contact who will advise you on suitable funding opportunities.

Please then follow the application process of the most appropriate opportunity based on the scientific or clinical area of your research and your career stage.

Specifics for applying to this highlight notice

All applicants are requested to reference this highlight notice in their ‘objectives’ and the ‘case for support’.

How we will assess your application

All applications received under this highlight notice will be assessed by the relevant MRC research board or panel through MRC’s standard assessment procedure.

Contact details

Ask about this highlight notice

Natasha Jardine, Programme Manager for Neurodegeneration


Additional info

Summaries of MND/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) funded grants

Brain commands and beyond: decoding inner speech for neural prosthetics

Dr Oiwi Parker Jones, University of Oxford, £1,351,705

This career development award aims to create a neural speech prosthetic to restore communication to patients who are unable to control their vocal articulators due to brain stem stroke or MND.

Interrogation of links between risks and early pathogenesis at single cell resolution in a novel human ALS organoid neuraxis model

Dr Andras Lakatos, University of Cambridge, £2,045,118

This senior clinical fellowship award will use a newly developed model system, created from patient cells, to study the molecular changes in individual cells and understand the initiation and progression of ALS. This may help to identify early markers of ALS which can help to guide treatment.

Small molecule modulators of lncRNA NEAT1_2: a novel approach to enhancing the endogenous neuroprotective response in ALS

Professor John Atack, Cardiff University, £153,440

Funded through the MRC/AstraZeneca Centre for Lead Discovery, this project aims to identify small molecules that bind to the long non-coding RNA NEAT1_2 to stabilise it and increase expression.

NEAT1_2 is essential to paraspeckle formation (protein complexes that perform a neuroprotective function in ALS) therefore these small molecules could increase paraspeckle formation and reduce degeneration of motor neurons in ALS.

Mechanistic studies of ALS-causative mutations and RNP-focused drug discovery using in vitro reconstitution of RNP complexes

Dr Tatyana Shelkovnikova, The University of Sheffield, £374,676

This research grant investigates the link between protein complexes called paraspeckles and ALS.

The RNA that induces formation of these paraspeckles becomes accumulated in ALS motor neurons, therefore the investigators aim to find small molecules that can modulate the complexes, with the potential for such molecules to be used in research and drug discovery.

Structural and functional studies of the VAPB-PTPIP51 ER-mitochondria tethering proteins in neurodegenerative diseases

Professor Christopher Miller, King’s College London, £1,083,310

This research grant investigates the role of GSK3beta and AMP Kinase in regulating binding of VAPB-PTPIP51 to ER-mitochondria and whether disruption of this induces neurodegenerative disease.

Damage to functions regulated by ER-mitochondria signalling, mediated by VAPB-PTPIP51, is a feature of ALS therefore this work could facilitate the design of potential therapeutics.

Synaptic pathology in ALS-FTD

Professor Seth Grant, The University of Edinburgh, £609,489

Funded through the MRC-AMED neurosciences funding opportunity, this collaborative project studies the pathology of synapses in ALS and FTD and aims to correlate this with behavioural phenotypes.

This could aid understanding of the nature of vulnerable and resilient synapses and how molecular perturbations can impact specific synapses, circuits and brain regions.

Energy metabolism in motor neuron diseases

Dr Kiterie Faller, The University of Edinburgh, £1,362,657

This clinician scientist fellowship investigates changes in metabolism in two mouse models of MND in order to identify common changes that could be used as therapeutic targets.

Targets found will be validated in patient samples before selected metabolic pathways are modulated to test whether this can reverse pathological changes.


  • 23 June 2023
    Added project summaries of previously funded grants to the 'Additional info' section.

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