Steyn Group - Heterogeneity in neurodegenerative disease

The Heterogeneity in Neurodegenerative Disease Research Group at SBMS aims to improve our understanding of factors that contribute to variability in neurodegeneration, with the aim of using this knowledge to improve quality of life and survival for all people that receive a diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease. Our group has a specific focus on Motor Neuron Disease (MND). We conduct observational and interventional studies across the clinical and pre-clinical settings.

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is a group of complex and heterogeneous neurodegenerative syndromes. Across these syndromes, the presentation and spread of disease through motor neurons in the brain (i.e. upper motor neurons), brainstem, and spinal cord (i.e. lower motor neurons) largely contribute to the presentation of different disease subtypes. Identification and differentiation of MND disease subtypes is very important, as people living with different types of MND have a very different course of disease. For example, the majority of people diagnosed with MND receive a final diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); a disease that is characterised by the involvement of upper AND lower motor neurons and a rapid disease course that results in an average life expectancy of 3-5 years after symptom onset. ALS is very different to other, rarer forms of MND, where disease progression can be slower, and survival is longer.

The Heterogeneity in Neurodegenerative Disease group at SBMS is led by Dr Frederik (Derik) Steyn. We collaborate widely with researchers across UQ, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and the Wesley Hospital. We work very closely with people living with MND, their families, caregivers and friends. Patient-directed clinical research is based at Herston campus, while our pre-clinical studies are done at the St Lucia campus of UQ.

Group Head


PhD students

  • Jeryn Chang
  • Cory Holdom
  • Hao Wang
  • Lauren Buckett
  • Melinder Gill
  • Sally Neville
  • Stephanie Howe



As scientists, we are obligated to share our research discoveries and to contribute to the communities we serve, and we are actively involved in events that are aimed at raising funding and awareness for MND.

We work closely with the MND and Me Foundation and with the State MND Associations that form part of MND Australia. We are passionate about our community, and we are proud and humbled to serve the wider MND community. We also thank the community for the continued support, through their provision of funding (and including support from FightMND). 

Through the MND and Me Foundation, we host regular Patient Information sessions to keep the national community of patients informed about our research. These Information sessions are also a platform that we use to update patients about how they can be involved in research.

Our research information sessions can be found on the links below:

If you or a loved one received a diagnosis of MND, and if you would like to get involved in our research studies (yes, people without a diagnosis of MND can participate), or simply want to know more, please contact Dr Frederik Steyn at

Dr Frederik Steyn is a network member of the MND Collective at UQ.