The University of Wollongong 2019 Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Research Appeal launches today, Wednesday 4 December, raising funds to support the work of Professor Justin Yerbury and his research group at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI).
Since the start of 2018, more than $180,000 has been donated to help fund Professor Yerbury’s research through a variety of events and community fundraising activities, including last year’s MND Appeal. Donations have come from all over Australia and several overseas countries.
MND causes progressive degeneration of motor neurones in the brain and spinal cord. People with the disease progressively lose the use of their arms and legs, their ability to speak, swallow and breathe.
Approximately 2000 Australians are living with MND. From diagnosis, their life expectancy can be counted in years or even months.
In May 2016, Professor Yerbury was diagnosed with MND. The disease has claimed the lives of his uncle, cousin, grandmother, aunt, mother and sister.
Professor Yerbury now requires an electric wheelchair to get around, needs a ventilator to help him breath, and communicates by lip reading and using voice software coordinated by eye-gaze on his laptop computer. Nonetheless, he continues his world-leading research into neuro-degeneration and MND, searching for a treatment for the, as yet, incurable disease.