John Grill in NeuRA foyer

Major dementia and brain research funding platform launched

Dementia and brain research received a major funding boost with the announcement of the NeuRA Discovery Fund, which aims to attract and support the best and brightest emerging leaders in the field of neuroscience to new and ongoing projects at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).

The announcement coincides with the confirmation of John Grill AO, as the incoming Chairman of the Board at NeuRA. Mr Grill, the former Chief Executive, and now Chairman, of energy and resource services company WorleyParsons, has been a long-time supporter of brain research. “Philanthropy, in support of bold plans such as the NeuRA Discovery Fund, is a key way to ensure the boundaries of science continue to be expanded,” says Mr Grill.

“The NeuRA Discovery Fund will ensure we attract the brightest minds in neuroscience research from Australia and around the globe and guide them to outcomes that benefit the nearly 400,000 Australians currently living with dementia.”

“The needs of an ageing population demand that we improve our understanding and treatment of dementia,” says NeuRA Executive Director and CEO Prof Peter Schofield.

The NeuRA Discovery Fund will provide fellowships to fund senior researchers and their team over a 5-year cycle, with further extensions available. Gifts, grants and donations will be sourced to support this vital work into Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and debilitating brain diseases such as Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, Motor neurone disease and Bipolar disorder.

“Over the next decade we will focus on solving the two primary issues faced by anyone with dementia: receiving a timely, accurate diagnosis and ensuring that the treatment is tailored to their specific needs,” says Prof Schofield.

“Most of the people impacted by early onset dementias are still working, raising families and leading busy lives. We want to find the ways that will allow them to continue on these paths for as long as possible. NeuRA is incredibly well-placed to see these goals come to fruition.”

Prof Schofield said that, “John Grill not only has a vision for what NeuRA can achieve, he has the intelligence, experience and drive to ensure that NeuRA remains at the forefront of health and medical research.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to make full use of his entrepreneurial gifts and have no doubt he’ll inspire many individuals and corporates to get involved.”

Mr Grill has been a Director of the NeuRA Board for six years and became Deputy Chairman in 2014. He takes over from Paul Brassil, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, who chaired the Board for 12 years.

After graduating in science and engineering from the University of Sydney, Mr Grill co-founded WorleyParsons and was its Chief Executive for 38 years.

“I have been deeply impressed by the audacious scale of the plans NeuRA has for generating novel ways to detect dementia in its earliest stages and finding treatments that can stave off its deleterious effects, or prevent it altogether,” says Grill.

Mr Grill announced a significant personal gift to launch the NeuRA Discovery Fund, taking his personal support of NeuRA to $5m. “In launching the NeuRA Discovery Fund today, we are demonstrating a vision and a commitment to attract the best research talent possible, in order to conquer and cure dementias and other diseases of the brain and nervous system, which represent the largest health threat we face in the 21st century. In achieving this, we will greatly enhance the quality of life of future generations.”

To Donate to the NeuRA Discovery Fund click here