Professor Justin Yerbury in his lab at IHMRI, January 2020

UOW Professor Justin Yerbury AM awarded 2022 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research

UOW Professor Justin Yerbury AM awarded 2022 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research

Award recognises Professor Yerbury's work in Motor Neuron Disease research

University of Wollongong (UOW) molecular biologist Professor Justin Yerbury has been awarded the 2022 UNSW Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

The annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia Davidson congratulated Professor Yerbury on receiving such a prestigious award.

“This award recognises the dedication that Professor Yerbury has committed to Motor Neuron Disease (MND) research and the significant advancements his research has uncovered.”

Professor Yerbury said, “it is a real honour to receive this recognition from the Eureka prizes.”   

“The award, to me, is a recognition of the hard work and sacrifice that my team has made in our quest to improve the lives of Australians living with MND. It is a reflection of the amazing efforts of those that make it all possible, including my wife Rachel, my family, my research team, and all those that have donated to our research.”

MND is a fatal disease that affects nerves called motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, which affects the functioning of the muscles that controls movement. The prevalence of MND internationally is estimated to be between three and seven people per 100,000. The lifetime risk is around 1:400.

Professor Justin Yerbury leads a research program based at UOW's Molecular Horizons Institute and at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute that has challenged prevailing thought about the pathology of Motor Neuron Disease (MND), a degenerative disease with no known cure. His discoveries about its underlying molecular principles, made since he was diagnosed with MND in 2016, are driving a new research focus.

Investigations led by Professor Yerbury have demonstrated that protein deposits found in motor neurons, the hallmark of MND, result from dysfunction in a process known as protein homeostasis. This is a breakthrough discovery that is informing the search for new therapies.

Professor Yerbury’s work has contributed to a paradigm shift in the understanding of the biochemical processes that lead to the loss of motor neurons in MND. This new way of thinking about MND has already led to his laboratory developing new therapeutic targets.

His work has been accessed over 25,000 times and citations continue to rise indicating the growing impact of his research. 

To find out about how you can support Professor Yerbury and his team to make MND a treatable condition, visit the website.