Professor Justin Yerbury

IHMRI MND researcher bound for Perth after months of planning

Molecular biologist Professor Justin Yerbury from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and UOW’s school of chemistry and molecular bioscience will travel to Perth this week.

It will be his first flight since undergoing a tracheostomy in January 2018.

“It has taken months of planning to get approval to fly with the medical equipment I need to keep me alive,” Professor Yerbury said.

“My wheelchair won’t fit on board the plane so I will be hoisted into a seat with my breathing apparatus and a support worker nearby.” 

“We’ve made two trips to the airport to run through the logistics of the  procedure,” he added.

Professor Yerbury is flying to Perth to present at the 30th International Symposium on ALS/MND.

“I’ve been invited to present on my research on the balance of protein homeostasis and its implications for ALS/MND,” Professor Yerbury said.

He goes on to explain:

“A protein is a molecular machine that is made from the instructions stored in your DNA.”

“These molecular machines do vital work in all parts of your body, and include things like haemoglobin to transport oxygen, enzymes to digest food, and collagen to provide physical structure.”

“There are around 20,000 different possible proteins and there are almost as many individual protein molecules in an average human body as there are stars in the universe.”

“The job of keeping all these protein molecules in balance is a gigantic task, and sometimes, it can be too much for a cell to deal with.”

“We are just beginning to understand the complexities of maintaining the balance of proteins in a motor neuron that can be 1 metre in length.”

In April 2017 Professor Yerbury travelled to the UK and met with the world famous physicist Stephen Hawking.

The pair discussed living with the disease and Justin shared his research into potential effective treatments for MND.

Stephen Hawking died in 2018, fifty years after being diagnosed with the disease.

Professor Yerbury will fly to Perth on Thursday 28 November.

Read more here

Professor Justin Yerbury wins MND research grant for 2019

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867


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