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Kiernan Group - Professor Matthew Kiernan

The Kiernan Group was established in 2001, with research labs based at NeuRA, linked to the Prince of Wales Clinical School UNSW and The Institute of Neurological Sciences, Prince of Wales Hospital. The group works in close collaboration with Prof David Burke at the University of Sydney (combined ARC Discovery grant) and Prof Hugh Bostock FRS at The Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London UK (combined fellowships and program grant collaborations). This 17-strong team of clinicians, scientists, biomedical engineers and research students has a multi-focussed approach to neurological disease. Current projects are directed to:

  • motor neurone disease: establishing the site of onset and mechanisms of progression
  • spinal cord injury: prevention of neurological damage following injury
  • multiple sclerosis, demyelinating neuropathy, neuromuscular disease: delineating mechanisms of fatigue
  • neurotoxicity: prevention of nerve damage associated with chemotherapies used in the treatment of cancer
  • understanding the development of neurological symptoms associated with nerve crush and ischaemia
  • epilepsy and pain-related states: improving the effects of anticonvulsant therapies in treatment

We are also conducting clinical trials aimed at neuroprotective and physical therapies in neurological diseases. Our research is intrinsically linked to the provision of local clinical services, particularly the multidisciplinary motor neurone disease clinic; the hereditary nerve and muscle clinics run through Prince of Wales Hospitals; neurological consultation and clinical neurophysiological investigations. 

Click here to access Prof Matthew Kiernan's research papers:

Senior Principal Research Fellow, NeuRA
Professor of Medicine, UNSW
Consultant Neurologist, Prince of Wales Hospital
T: +612 9382 2438

Matthew Kiernan is a Professor of Neurology at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales and Consultant Neurologist at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney Children’s Hospital. He is also Senior Scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia. His research team’s focus is clinical neurology, in particular disease pathophysiology and treatment strategies of neurological disorders. Currently his team is investigating the mechanisms and the possible prevention of neurodegeneration in motor neurone disease; chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity; stroke; Machado-Joseph disease; spinal muscular atrophy and other inherited neuropathies. His team are also involved in clinical trials investigating potential drug treatments for motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

His team’s research is intrinsically linked to the provision of clinical services, particularly the Multidisciplinary Motor Neurone Disease Clinic; the Hereditary Nerve and Muscle Clinics and diagnostic neurophysiology clinics, all run through Prince of Wales Hospital. Neurological consultation and clinical neurophysiological services are also provided at the Professorial Suite, Prince of Wales Hospital.

Matthew Kiernan is the Vice President of the Australian Brain Foundation, the largest priming institution for neuroscience in Australia and Chairman of the Scientific Committee responsible for distributing funding towards research and medical education for the treatment and prevention of neurological disorders. Matthew is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (BMJ Publishing Group). The journal posts regular free podcasts and Patient Information Sheets.

Clinical assessment of functional disability in Motor Neurone Disease

This project aims to assess the practical impact of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) on both patients and their family members.

Effects of marine neurotoxins on impulse transmission (tetrodotoxin; ciguatera)

The ingestion of marine animals that contain toxic substances can produce neurological symptoms.

Effects of strict K+ restriction and dialysis treatments on neurological function in chronic kidney disease

Neurological complications are a major cause of disability and dramatically impair quality of life in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Establishment of training programs for health care professionals to look after Motor Neurone Disease patients

This project will focus on developing training programs for health care professionals to look after motor neurone disease (MND) patients both in an inpatient setting and during their transition to hom

Mechanisms of Chemotherapy-induced Neurotoxicity

Nerve damage is a very common side effect of many current cancer treatments, limiting the amount of treatment that patients can receive and often resulting in irreversible damage, leaving patients wit

Mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Motor Neurone Disease

Motor Neurone Disease is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease which is universally fatal.

Natural history of axonal ion channel dysfunction in human diabetic neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes resulting in numbness, pain and weakness in the lower limb and significantly increasing the risk of lower limb ulceration and amputation.

Nerve excitability in spinal cord injury patients

Nerve excitability testing is being applied to spinal cord injury patients to investigate the complex changes in nerve excitability that occur overtime after the injury.

Neuroprotective strategies for chemotherapy-induced neuropathy

Nerve damage is a very common side effect of many current cancer treatments, limiting the amount of treatment that patients can receive and often resulting in irreversible damage, leaving patients wit

Nocturnal hypoventilation in motor neurone disease

Motor neurone disease (MND) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterised by the progressive weakness of voluntary muscles throughout the body.

Novel assessment of functional adaptation and motor plasticity following stroke

The aims of this project are to assess plasticity of the entire neural axis (central and peripheral motor pathways) and how they interact following a stroke.

Pathophysiology of inherited neuropathies

Nerve excitability testing is being applied to people with various types of inherited neuropathy including Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and myotonic dystrophy.

Pathophysiology of Machado-Joseph Disease

Using the combination of novel peripheral axonal excitability and cortical excitability testing, the assessment of the entire motor neurological axis is possible in people with Machado-Joseph Disease.

Pathophysiology of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Spinal muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disorder characterised by muscle weakness and atrophy due to the degeneration of the motor neurons.

Pathophysiology of uraemic neuropathy

Neurological complications are an almost universal side effect of severe kidney disease.

Quality of life in metabolic neuropathies

This study aims to assess the quality of life of patient’s with metabolic neuropathies such as diabetes.

Site of origin of Motor Neurone Disease

MND is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by the progressive muscular paralysis caused by the deterioration of motor neurones.

Spinal cord injury & related neurological conditions

Nerve excitability testing is being applied to patients with spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions to provide further information about the functionality of nerves.

The Australian Motor Neurone Disease Registry

The Australian Motor Neurone Disease Registry was launched by Professor Matthew Kiernan on Motor Neurone Disease Global Awareness Day, 21 June 2005, at the Annual Conference for Health and Community C

Research team 
Assoc Prof Matthew Kiernan's picture
Professor Matthew Kiernan
Senior Principal Research Fellow, NeuRA
Professor of Medicine, UNSW
T: +612 9382 2438
Dr Steve Vucic (PhD)'s picture
Assoc Professor Steve Vucic
Research Officer
T: +612 9399 1000
Susanna Park's picture
Dr Susanna Park
Research Officer
T: +612 9382 2413
Michael Lee's picture
Dr Michael Lee
Research Officer
T: +612 9382 2438
Michelle Farrar's picture
Dr Michelle Farrar
Consultant Paediatric Neurologist, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick

Latest publications

Vucic S, Stein TD, Hedley-Whyte ET, Reddel SR, Tisch S, Kotschet K, Cros D, Kiernan MC. (2012). FOSMN syndrome: Novel insight into disease pathophysiology Neurology 79(1):73-9.

To better define the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying the development of the novel facial-onset sensory and motor neuronopathy (FOSMN) syndrome and, in particular, to determine whether neurodege

Menezes MP, Waddell LB, Evesson FJ, Cooper S, Webster R, Jones K, Mowat D, Kiernan MC, Johnston HM, Corbett A, Harbord M, North KN, Clarke NF. (2012). Importance and challenge of making an early diagnosis in LMNA-related muscular dystrophy Neurology 78(16):1258-63.

To identify the most useful clinical and histologic markers that facilitate early diagnosis in LMNA-related muscular dystrophy and to assess the usefulness of Western blotting (WB) for lamin A/C.

Farrar MA, Vucic S, Johnston HM, Kiernan MC. (2012). Corticomotoneuronal integrity and adaptation in spinal muscular atrophy Archives of neurology 69(4):467-73.

To gain further insight into disease pathophysiologic process and potential adaptations through investigating whether cortical dysfunction or plasticity is a feature of spinal muscle atrophy (SMA).