Justin Yerbury Chair in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Justin’s legacy

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Justin's story

In 1994, Justin Yerbury’s uncle, and then his cousin, developed Motor Neurone Disease (MND). A few years later Justin lost his grandmother, mother and aunt, to the very same disease in a matter of weeks.

It was his family’s history with this disease that inspired Justin to radically change the course of his career – from basketballer to medical scientist.

Justin was already leading a research team beginning to understand more about MND, when he was diagnosed with it in 2016. By 2018, Justin was rendered immobile, only able to communicate via eye/computer recognition. Despite his deteriorating health, Justin and his team made an extraordinary impact in a short time. Their research has driven fundamental new understandings of MND and treatments for the disease.

Justin was the embodiment of courage, commitment and hope. He authored and co-authored scientific papers, guided and supervised PhD students, spoke at events and lectures, advocated for people living with disability and received prestigious awards and accolades. His contributions to the international scientific community, the University of Wollongong (UOW) and local Wollongong community were nothing short of extraordinary. 

Help us continue Justin's legacy

Justin's research

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a devastating disease where the nerves that control movement are attacked leading to loss of muscle control, muscle atrophy and invariably death.

Nearly 2,100 Australians live with MND. Justin himself defied the odds after his MND diagnosis in 2016. Survival time is usually only 1-2 years... but he lived for another seven.

While the precise mechanism causing cellular dysfunction in the affected motor neurons remains unknown, Justin's research has radically shifted the understanding of the mechanism of protein aggregation into deposits and cellular dysfunction in MND. His findings have been accepted by leaders in the fields of biochemistry, cell biology and neuroscience.

Justin's discoveries have led to preclinical testing of therapeutic strategies, development of therapeutic antibodies and genetic tests for MND. The potential benefit of this work for families affected by MND is significant.

Help drive the research forward

What is the Justin Yerbury Chair?

In recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the fight against MND, UOW has established the Justin Yerbury Chair in Neurodegenerative Diseases. 

The research leadership position will be dedicated to understanding and treating MND and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s. The appointed person will be responsible for attracting funding, engaging with policy-makers and mentoring young researchers. 

Help us finish the work Justin started

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Yes! I want to finish the compassionate pioneering work that Justin started… and help find a cure for MND!

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