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November is My Legacy Month

October 20th, 2021

November is a good time to make your will and consider leaving a legacy gift to a cause you care about.

My Legacy was established in 2006 by a small group of Irish charities who knew at first hand the great impact a legacy gift can have on the work of a charity. They also realised that, unlike other countries, many Irish people do not make a will despite how important a life document it is. Since then, My Legacy has grown to an umbrella group of 77 Irish charities who work together to promote the great importance of making a will and to ask people to consider leaving a legacy gift to a favourite charity, once family and friends have been taken care of and all other important personal decisions have been made.

November welcomes the annual Autumn awareness campaign, My Legacy Month, a good time to take that first step in writing your will by making an appointment with a solicitor. My Legacy is grateful for the support of hundreds of solicitor firms all around the country who can offer expert guidance and advice about making or amending a will at any time of the year.

It is usually a much more straightforward and cost effective process than you might think; it will only take about an hour or so of your time. Your solicitor will discuss what is necessary for drawing up this important personal document when you make your appointment.

Once family and friends have been looked after and all other important personal decisions have been made, deciding to leave a legacy gift to a charity like the IMNDA is a wonderful way to support a favourite cause in the future. Large or small, every legacy is a generous gift of hope and trust for the future.

The IMNDA has gratefully received over half a million euros from gifts in people’s Will’s; an incredible amount of money which has made a huge impact to families dealing with MND. If you would like to find out more information please visit here 

Thank you for considering leaving a gift to the IMNDA.

 

 

 


Halloween Fancy Dress Disco

October 19th, 2021

Don’t miss this Spootacular event at the beautiful Clonacody House Hotel in Fethard, Co Tipperary in aid of the IMNDA and Focus Ireland. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here


Virtual AGM & Conference 2021 – Presentations

October 14th, 2021

The Virtual AGM & Conference took place this year on Thursday 30th September. We had a wonderful turnout as 171 attendees at the AGM & Conference Event on Zoom
For those of you who missed the event or would just like to refresh on the topics that were discussed, the presentations are available to download here.
We would especially like to thank Prof Orla Hardiman, Dr Ailin O’Dea, Dr Niall Pender, Ciara Fitzsimons Speech & Language Therapist, CRC & Lesley Doyle Speech & Language Therapist, Beaumont Hospital for all your contributions and making the event so interesting!

 

 

 

 

 

Prof Orla Hardiman Presentation

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Niall Pender Presentation

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Ailin O’Dea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ciara Fitzsimons & Lesley Doyle Speech & Language Presentations

 

 

 


Healing Whispers

October 4th, 2021

Healing Whispers is a little book of calming affirmations combined with soothing photography all rolled up in one bite size package of happiness and peace…

On Sunday 3rd October, Lisa Doyle, Niamh Ryan and Liz Phelan launched their very special photography book ‘Healing Whispers’ and calendar in aid of IMNDA at Bloom HQ in Mountrath, Co Laois.  These beautiful items can be bought online at https://healingwhispers.ie or in the following shops: Crafts By Edwina & Phelans Mountrath, Nook & Cranny and Allbooks & News Portlaoise.

This book was the brainchild of Liz Phelan. It is something that she has wanted to do for so long, so when the stars aligned and she met Lisa & Niamh, it all fell into place. Each lady brought their own set of skills to the table, Liz – affirmations, Lisa – photography, and Niamh – graphic design. And added to that mix was the need to help a very worthy cause – Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, in the name of a very special lady – Aine Purcell. Aine sadly passed away on 4th May 2021 from MND.

They would like to thank their sponsors, without whom this book would not have been possible. Thanks also, to Aine’s family, for allowing them to dedicate this book to Aine, and to use some of her beautiful photographs.

Creators, Liz Phelan, Niamh Ryan and Lisa Doyle at Bloom HQ in Mountrath for the launch of Healing Whispers book and calendar.
Picture: Alf Harvey.

 


Putting the Patient First: Answering the big questions with patient-derived cell lines

September 30th, 2021

Author: Gráinne Geoghegan

Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin

One of the most frustrating aspects of a diagnosis of Motor Neuron Disease (MND) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is the lack of definitive answers to the big questions. ‘Why did this happen to me?’ ‘Could I have prevented this had I known earlier? ’‘What can be done about it?’. For scientists and clinicians, finding the right answers to these questions can sometimes feel like finding the needle in a haystack. 90% of ALS/MND cases occur sporadically, meaning that there is no clear underlying cause for disease onset, although there are likely a variety of different genetic and environmental risk factors involved (1). So without knowing the answer to ‘why did this happen’, it’s very difficult to develop the treatment options to ‘do something about it’.

Barriers to New Therapies

Research is ongoing to try to more conclusively determine the underlying causes and risk factors for developing ALS/MND in order to improve diagnoses and develop new treatment options. However, a significant stumbling block for new therapies is the lack of accurate disease models available to scientists to test their hypotheses.

A ‘disease model’ is a laboratory representation of some, or most aspects of a particular disease. These models can be anything from special cells in a dish, to animal models like mice, fish, flies and worms whose genome has been altered to express multiple copies of specific genes responsible for some aspects of the disease, or even organotypic cultures, which are pieces of tissue taken from patients or animals and kept alive in nutrient-rich media. Although all of these types of disease models have helped improve our understanding of ALS/MND, it is important to note that even the best model can only mimic certain aspects of the disease, and none can truly encapsulate everything going on at both cellular and behavioural levels.

Moreover, ALS/MND is very difficult to model in a laboratory environment because it is such a complex disease. Great progress has been made in identifying genetic causes for ALS/MND in many different types of animal models like zebrafish, rats and mice, and in cell-based models. However, all of these models have limitations as they are based on manipulating the genome of these animals in order to get them to display symptoms of a disease which they do not get naturally. Furthermore, these models are based on the inherited form of ALS/MND, which only accounts for approximately 10% of cases (1).

Patient-Focused Solutions

To overcome some of these limitations, researchers have developed new, more specific models of ALS/MND based on patients themselves. Using advanced cell reprogramming technologies, scientists can take a small skin biopsy from a patient and grow skin cells called fibroblasts from it in the lab. These cells can then be reprogrammed to become neurons (outlined in Figure 1), or other cell types found in the brain which are also involved in ALS/MND disease progression (2). These unique cells retain the genetic make-up of the patient, making them a highly specialised model that more closely resembles human disease and can mimic both inherited and sporadic forms of ALS/MND. Furthermore, as ageing is the biggest risk factor for all neurodegenerative diseases, advances in this technology has allowed these cells to retain their ageing signature (2). Scientists can then test their hypotheses using this model, which produces more accurate findings.

Figure 1. Overview of how skin biopsy samples are used to make induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which can be used as a valuable drug screening tool.

This technology is based on the ground-breaking development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by Shinya Yamanaka, for which he was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Using this technology, fibroblasts can be genetically reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, which are a type of unspecialised cell capable of giving rise to all the cell types of the body when grown under the right conditions. This pioneering technology overcomes the highly contentious issues surrounding embryonic stem cells in research and allows for the development of patient-specific cell lines (population of cells with the same genetic make-up) from a simple skin biopsy.

Promising Discoveries

iPSC technology was first used to grow iPSC-derived motor neurons from patient samples in 2008 by Dimos and colleagues, and since then, many pioneering discoveries and breakthroughs have been made (3). iPSC-derived motor neurons were used to confirm the importance of other cell types in the brain for disease progression, an important discovery which could lead to the development of new targets for therapy (4). In 2014, three separate studies using iPSC-derived motor neurons identified shared molecular pathways leading to ALS/MND which were common to patients with different genetic backgrounds (5). This means that patients with different genetic mutations known to cause ALS/MND, for example C9orf72 and SOD1, could benefit from similar therapies, if the underlying pathway to disease is the same.

Furthermore, many potential new drug candidates for ALS/MND have been identified using patient-specific, iPSC-derived cells. Three drugs, ropinirole (6), retigabine (7) and bosutinib (8) were identified as potential new therapies for ALS/MND in drug screenings using iPSC-derived motor neurons, all of which were then tested in clinical trials. All three drugs are already approved and used in the treatment of other conditions, namely Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and chronic myeloid leukaemia, respectively. This illustrates that iPSC-derived motor neurons could be used to test drugs which are already approved and repurpose them for the treatment of ALS/MND, dramatically shortening the time it would take for patients to gain access to new therapies.

These developments have also opened the door to the possibility of personalised medicine in ALS/MND. As iPSC-derived motor neurons retain the genetic signature of the donor patient, it’s possible to identify potential new therapies which will be more efficacious for certain subgroups of patients, based on the genes these patients express. Furthermore, it is conceivable that patients could give a skin biopsy sample from which iPSC-derived motor neurons are grown, and are then used to predict that patient’s specific response to treatment. This would help to ensure that the right drug is given to the right patient, not only leading to better treatment outcomes, but also reducing unwanted side effects.

iPSC-derived motor neurons are already helping us to answer some of the big questions in ALS/MND research, from identifying underlying causes and developing new biomarkers, to discovering new therapies. The use of iPSCs has exploded in popularity since their development just 15 years ago for a good reason. Scientists conduct their research to better understand the human body and how to treat it when things go wrong. Therefore, when the patients themselves are put at the forefront of this great effort, more accurate findings and bigger breakthroughs are made.

Our Work in Trinity College Dublin

Professor Orla Hardiman’s group in Trinity College Dublin and Beaumont Hospital is setting up a new biobank of skin cells with funding from FutureNeuro, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological diseases, and in collaboration with researchers in NUIG, RCSI and the University of Sheffield. A small piece of skin, smaller than the top of a pencil (4 mm) is taken from a numbed area on the inner forearm using a circular ‘punch’ blade and heals without a scar. The biopsy is then taken to the lab where researchers grow skin cells from it, which are then ready to be stored in the biobank. This valuable resource will be used to investigate the underlying causes of ALS/MND and to develop and test new treatment options in the future.

We are very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to donate a sample of any kind so far. If you or your family members are interested in donating a sample to the biobank, or would like more information, contact Mark Heverin, Research Manager to Prof. Hardiman (mark.heverin@tcd.ie) or Gráinne Geoghegan, Research Assistant (grainne.geoghegan@tcd.ie).

References and Further Information:

  1. Hardiman O, Al-Chalabi A, Chio A, Corr E, Logroscino G, Robberecht W et al. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nature Reviews Disease Primers. 2017;3(1).
  2. Myszczynska M, Ferraiuolo L. New In Vitro Models to Study Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Brain Pathology. 2016;26(2):258-265.
  3. Dimos J, Rodolfa K, Niakan K, Weisenthal L, Mitsumoto H, Chung W et al. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Generated from Patients with ALS Can Be Differentiated into Motor Neurons. 2008;321(5893):1218-1221.
  4. Meyer K, Ferraiuolo L, Miranda C, Likhite S, McElroy S, Renusch S et al. Direct conversion of patient fibroblasts demonstrates non-cell autonomous toxicity of astrocytes to motor neurons in familial and sporadic ALS. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2013;111(2):829-832.
  5. Matus S, Medinas D, Hetz C. Common Ground: Stem Cell Approaches Find Shared Pathways Underlying ALS. Cell Stem Cell. 2014;14(6):697-699.
  6. Fujimori K, Ishikawa M, Otomo A, Atsuta N, Nakamura R, Akiyama T et al. Modelling sporadic ALS in iPSC-derived motor neurons identifies a potential therapeutic agent. Nature Medicine. 2018;24(10):1579-1589.
  7. Wainger B, Kiskinis E, Mellin C, Wiskow O, Han S, Sandoe J et al. Intrinsic Membrane Hyperexcitability of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patient-Derived Motor Neurons. Cell Reports. 2014;7(1):1-11.
  8. Imamura K, Izumi Y, Watanabe A, Tsukita K, Woltjen K, Yamamoto T et al. The Src/c-Abl pathway is a potential therapeutic target in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Science Translational Medicine. 2017;9(391):eaaf3962.

 

 


How can we identify environmental risk factors for ALS?

September 29th, 2021

Author: Dr James Rooney1,2

1Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin

2Institute and Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany

What are risk factors anyway?

We often hear about certain diseases as being caused by, or resulting from, environmental exposures[1]. The most common and well-established example being that of lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking. Other well-known examples include cirrhosis of the liver caused by excessive alcohol consumption, and skin cancer caused by excessive sun exposure (or UV light more specifically). In scientific research it is typical to refer to the exposure in question as a ‘risk factor’[2]. Researchers will typically say something like: ‘UV light exposure is a risk factor for skin cancer’.

These examples have several features in common:

  1. The effect of cigarette smoke, alcohol, UV light on the lung, liver or skin retrospectively is a strong one. That is – the chances of getting any of these diseases are heavily impacted by the particular exposure associated with each disease.
  2. The diseased organ gets a high dose of the exposure in question – i.e. cigarette smoke is inhaled directly into the lung, the liver breaks down almost all the alcohol in the body, and the skin is directly impacted by UV light.
  3. The diseases in question and also the corresponding exposures are all relatively common within the population.

These features mean that if you are carrying out a study on one of these diseases, and your study includes the risk exposure in question, and assuming the study is otherwise well designed, then there is a reasonably good chance that your study will correctly identify the dangerous exposure for the disease in question!

However, what happens when the effect the exposure has on a disease is not as strong as that of cigarettes on lung cancer, or the organ in question is not directly exposed to possible risky exposures, or the disease, the exposures, or both, are less common than those discussed above? Unfortunately, in this case, finding the risky exposure (or exposures) for the disease in question can become extremely difficult. This is where we find ourselves when trying to identify risk exposures for ALS.

Environmental risk factors for ALS

In terms of the causes of ALS the picture is somewhat complicated. A subset of ALS cases are known to be caused by genetics. The most common of these is called C9orf72[3] and it explains about 10% of cases in Ireland. A large number of other genetic causes have been identified that explain smaller numbers of cases. Recently, highly detailed studies of Irish families showed that there may be inherited risk in up to 50% of ALS cases (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6646974/). So, if that is true, what is causing the other 50% of cases? Well, there are a variety of opinions on this. Some believe that all cases are genetic, but that we have not yet discovered all the causative genes yet. Others believe that is caused by multiple genes acting in concert (i.e. polygenic). Still others believe that a wide range of environmental exposures might be responsible for the unexplained cases. And finally, others believe that genes and environmental exposures acting in combination are the root cause.

In summary -> its complicated! But we won’t let that stop us. Given all the above, if we want to try to identify environmental exposures that might be causing, or contributing to the risk of getting ALS, how would we do it? The first thing we must do is have a way to measure people’s exposures. There are many approaches to this, but some examples include the following strategies:

  • Suppose we want to know whether cigarette smoking causes a disease, how might we do it? Well one approach is to survey people with the disease, and people without the disease on their smoking habits. This works reasonably well, because cigarettes come in fixed packet sizes, and as they are expensive and people need to budget for that, people tend to be quite aware of how much they smoke – although in general people do underestimate this. We know this because another way we can measure people’s cigarette smoking habits is by measuring a chemical in the blood called cotinine that will only be found in smokers and is found in concentrations proportional to the amount of cigarettes smoked. Such a chemical is a biomarker of exposure. So, we have now identified at least two methods of assessing environmental exposures – by survey of people’s consumption habits, and by measurement of biomarkers in the blood (or we could use urine, or hair, or nails – depending on the exposure of interest).
  • However, suppose we wanted to know if exposure to diesel fumes was an important environmental exposure for a disease? People generally have no idea how much diesel fumes they are exposed to, and it is not something you can easily measure in a blood sample. But we do know that people in certain occupations have higher exposure than others. For example: farmers, truck drivers and mechanics will have higher diesel fume exposure on average than people working in an office. This approach has been used extensively in the past for respiratory diseases in particular, and industrial hygienist and epidemiologists have developed job exposure matrices to link many thousands of jobs with various exposures. Therefore, by surveying people’s employment history, they can generate estimates of their exposures to a variety of chemicals or radiation.
  • What about exposures like air pollution? Again, this is something people are generally unaware of on a daily basis (unless air pollution levels are extremely high). Although one can now purchase their own air pollution monitor, and wearable devices are becoming available to measure such things in real time, this doesn’t help us as researchers if we want to know about someone’s exposure 5 or 10 years ago. However, extensive satellite air pollution data is available from NASA (https://airquality.gsfc.nasa.gov), and Copernicus (https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu). Therefore, it is possible to look up a given persons home GPS coordinates and estimate their exposure over a time period to different air pollution measurements (i.e. particulates or various gases).

A number of studies into environmental exposures and risk of ALS have been carried out in Ireland. The EURALS study (2008 to 2012) surveyed ALS patients and age and gender matched healthy volunteers (commonly called ‘controls’ in studies) about their lifetime exposures. This was followed by the EuroMOTOR study (2011 to 2014) which built on the design of EURALS and expanded the survey to include additional possible exposures including a broader medical history and very detailed occupational history. Both studies were carried out across multiple European countries to include as many people as possible. Some of the findings from these studies included:

So given such findings, why do we not tell ALS patients to drink lots of coffee for example? Well, you might have noticed that the findings of EURALS and EuroMOTOR disagree with regard to physical activity. EURALS found that physical activity was not associated with increased risk for ALS, while EuroMOTOR found the opposite. How can this be? There are several possible answers here, including random chance, measurement errors or even differences in study design. Another possibility is that something else might be associated with both exercise and ALS, such as a gene that is associated with being a good athlete and could also be involved in ALS. However, the take home point here is that we cannot rely on a single study to identify a risky exposure, no matter how well designed or how many participants are involved. Because of this, every few years experts perform ‘systematic reviews’ of the research and consider all the papers on a given topic. This should be a highly organised process involving grading each paper by its design, number of participants and so on. Then it is possible to make a more general decision about a risk factor using special statistical methods to combine study results. Currently, the only environmental exposure widely recognised to increase the risk of getting ALS is cigarette smoking, adding to the list of reasons why everyone who smokes should take action to cut down and quit the habit.

The MetALS study

Currently, a study on environmental exposures known as the MetALS study is running in Ireland. This study is designed to further evaluate the role of metals as risk factors for ALS. The metals being studied are: aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium. Some of these metals such as lead and mercury are always considered toxic to humans, while others such as copper and selenium are nutrients that are required by the body in low doses, but also can be dangerous at too high a dose. In MetALS, we are combining a survey approach with the collection of blood and urine samples from volunteer patients and controls. Using these samples, together with samples from German and Italian patients and controls collected by the MND-Net organisation in Germany, and the PARALS register in Turin, we are measuring the concentrations of blood and urine metals, standard hospital blood tests such as liver and kidney function tests, and the measurement of heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins are special proteins that help our cells to cope with stressful events. For a human cell, stressful events can mean many things, but includes exposure to heat (hence the name heat shock proteins), and also chemical exposures to the cell, such as that of toxic metals. The heat shock proteins function to help the cell continue its normal functions in spite of such stresses. We also hope that some of our volunteers will return to give repeated blood samples so that we can determine trends over time of our measurements.

When we have completed all of the measurements, we will use statistical methods to make sense of all this data. We are interested in seeing whether metal or heat shock protein concentrations differ between people with ALS and volunteer controls, to see if there might be associations between metal concentrations and heat shock protein concentrations, and to see if any of these measurements might be correlated with disease progression (measured via the ALSFRS). Right now (September 2021), we are carrying out measurements on samples from the first recruits to our study. However, recruitment of volunteers for MetALS is still ongoing through the ALS clinic at Beaumont Hospital. We are really grateful for the interest of the ALS community in this work, and we would be really happy to hear from any volunteers wishing to take part in the MetALS study, either with or without a diagnosis of ALS.  I hope that this overview has been of interest for the wider ALS community. If you’d like to hear more information about our results so far or taking part in future research, please email me at rooneyj4@tcd.ie or Gráinne Geoghegan at Grainne.Geoghegan@tcd.ie.

I’d like to thank Professor Orla Hardiman and Magdalena Kotalla, MSc, for feedback on this article.

[1] In scientific research “environmental exposures” can refer to air pollution, chemical exposures, radiation exposure, or even behavioural qualities such as diet and exercise

[2] Risk factor is a somewhat controversial term in that it can have different meanings in different contexts, however in this article we take it to mean an environmental exposure that can cause a disease. More on this topic can be read here: https://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i6536 

[3] Technically, an expansion of the C9orf72 is responsible. Everyone carries the C9orf72 gene, but in some individuals it is extra-long (hence ‘expansion’), and it is the expansion that is associated with ALS and FTD (fronto-temporal dementia).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 846794


Walk for IMNDA and Offaly Homelessness

September 14th, 2021

You can read the widely acclaimed interview with Paddy by award-wining sportswriter Vincent Hogan  which appeared in the Irish Independent on January 11 here: https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/ive-accepted-it-like-why-not-me-why-should-it-be-somebody-else-offaly-legend-opens-up-on-life-changing-illness-38852475.html
The walk has been inspired by the late Fr Tony Coote’s hugely successful ‘Walk While You Can’ initiative. Fr Coote, who was the parish priest in Mount Merrion, Dublin and an MND sufferer, died in 2019 having raised in excess of €600,000 for MND causes.

Paddy wished to share these words:

“The service that the IMNDA provide is funded completely by public donations and this initiative is an effort on my behalf and that of my team to help provide a greater range of support to approximately 400 people who suffer from the disease in Ireland.

“It is my hope that the monies raised across all our fundraising efforts can help offset the impact of motor neurone disease, while hastening the search for a cure, as well lessening the impact the current homeless crisis has in this country.”


IMNDA Virtual AGM & Conference 2021 – Thursday 30th September 

September 6th, 2021

IMNDA Virtual AGM & Conference 2021 – Thursday 30th September 

We are really looking forward to welcoming you to our Virtual AGM & Conference. Once again this year we will have a host of fantastic speakers.

Please read on for some notes on the event. You will also find log in details below. (more…)


We are Hiring!

September 2nd, 2021

Title of post:               Corporate Fundraising Executive

Organisation:             Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA)

Reporting to:              Fundraising Manager

Contract:                    Permanent

Location: This is an office-based role with hybrid working under consideration.

The office is based at Unit 3, Ground Floor, Marshalsea Court, 22/23 Merchants Quay, D08 N8VC.

Who we are

The Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) supports people living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), their families and carers across Ireland. Vital services include home visits from four specialist MND nurses, funding towards home care hours and the supply of specialised equipment on loan. On average over 80% of the IMNDA’s income comes from fundraising and donations. The Association has grown over recent years, raising more funds and supporting more families.

Role Overview

Reporting to the Fundraising Manager and working as part of a small, dedicated team this is an exciting new role of strategic importance to the development of the IMNDA’s corporate income. The Corporate Fundraising Executive will be directly responsible for developing and implementing the IMNDA’s Corporate Fundraising Programme and building on previous and current corporate support. This role might suit someone at an early stage of their career interested in moving to the voluntary sector with an established charity and wishing to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Deliver ambitious fundraising targets as a key member of the fundraising team.
  • Revive relationships with established corporate donors and manage the cultivation and stewardship of new prospective supporters.
  • Undertake thorough Charity of the Year research, creating a calendar of key dates.
  • Be the main contact for all Corporate fundraising; from company events and donations to CSR applications and pitches.
  • Adapt and deliver all IMNDA annual events and campaigns to a Corporate market.
  • Keep in regular contact with corporate donors to develop strategic partnerships and funding relationships.
  • Work closely with PR/Comms Executive in the compiling of impactful and professional corporate materials in line with the ethos of the IMNDA.
  • Develop and submit persuasive proposals for corporate sponsorship for secure funding towards the IMNDA’s various support services.
  • Compile and share detailed reports regularly with the Fundraising Manager identifying areas for leverage and opportunity.
  • Attend events and conferences to build the IMNDA’s profile within the corporate sector and identify opportunities to present IMNDA’s work to prospective and existing donors.

General:

  • To ensure confidentiality on all matters and information obtained during the course of employment.
  • To present and act in a professional manner at all times.
  • Ensure compliance of charities regulation, data protection acts, governance and best practice.
  • Keep up to date with the current issues and developments in the charity sector.
  • To assume responsibility for his/her own professional development and safe work practice.
  • Establish memberships and liaise with local bodies, agencies and other associations. to ensure industry best practice.
  • Undertake training as necessary.
  • Provide occasional support if another team member in the department has an urgent need.

This job description is not exhaustive. It merely acts as a guide and may be amended to meet the changing requirements of the Association at any time after discussion with the post holder.

Personal Specification

Essential:

  • 3 years relevant experience either gained in the charity sector or in a business development role.
  • Experience of setting and working to budgets, deadlines, targets and plans.
  • Ability to work as both a key member of a team as well as proactively working alone.
  • Flexible especially when having to fulfil an unexpected deadline.
  • Excellent relationship management skills with proven experience in account/ customer/donor management.
  • Proven experience in developing new business.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills – both written and verbal.
  • Strong empathy and compassion.
  • A team player who will always represent the IMNDA with the utmost professionalism.
  • Strong organisational skills and attention to detail and ability to manage multiple projects and demands.
  • Excellent attention to detail.
  • Experience inputting data and generating reports using a CRM.

Desirable:

  • Previous experience working in a not for profit environment.
  • Experience using CRM Salesforce.
  • Experience completing successful grant applications.

Contract

This is a permanent role which includes a 6-month probationary period.

Benefits include:

  • Salary negotiable, depending on experience.
  • 25 days annual leave.
  • Company pension scheme on completion of probationary period.
  • Access to VHI Employee Assistance Programme.
  • Flexible and friendly working environment.

If you would like to be considered for this position, please forward a cover letter stating your suitability, along with your CV to Gemma Watts: gwatts@imnda.ie

Closing date for applications is 5pm on Monday 27th September 2021.

We would advise early application as CVs will be reviewed as received


Fundamental Rights of ALS/MND Community Survey

August 27th, 2021

This is an international survey that is based on the fundamental rights of people with ALS/ MND and it is open for 3 weeks. The ALS/MND Alliance is urging the MND Community to take part in this as soon as possible.

The key objectives of the survey are:

  • Find strengths and weaknesses at a global level and be able to learn from the best and address ways to help associations and regions.
  • Provide data from each country with the opportunity to benchmark and evaluate.
  • Generate further questions and raise topics that require further attention and discussion at roundtables or the annual conference.
  • Highlight the areas the Alliance can prioritize for the creation of resources to help member associations in their advocacy.
  • Provide insight for further focused surveys on specific topics to capture more granular data.

 

The survey is optional and can be accessed here https://survey.alchemer-ca.com/s3/50118484/2021-ALS-MND-Social


2021 Virtual Cooks Medical Womens Mini Marathon

August 17th, 2021

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual Cook Medical Women’s Mini Marathon will now take place as a virtual race for 2021.

This year join in and celebrate the 23rd staging of this iconic event.

A virtual event allows a person to participate wherever and whenever suits them over the 25th and 26th of September 2021.

Having completed the event, each participant will have the option to upload their time to a virtual leader board if they wish. These details will be presented on the event website.

This year’s event will now take place over the last weekend in September, with €10 from each registration being directed to your nominated charity.

All participants will receive a custom quarter zip running top as well as a bespoke medal in the post.

Register Now https://limerickminimarathon.com/ and please remember to nomimate the IMNDA when registering!


24 Hour Football Tournament

July 28th, 2021

Michael McDermott along with Keywords Studios are organising a 24 Hour Football Tournament on 21st August at Nord Anglia International School in Dublin to raise funds and awareness of MND, for more on his event go to here

The organisers of the 24Hour Football Tournament will be streaming the event live on Twitch on the 21st August, where there will be spot prizes up for grabs to those who log in and donate via this platform, more information to follow…


The Ann Gilmour Shield, on 25 July 2021

July 23rd, 2021

The Ann Gilmour Shield, on 25 July 2021
 
The inaugural Ann Gilmour Memorial Shield soccer match will be played between Ardcroney FC and Ballymackey FC on Sunday July 25th in Ardcroney at 2pm.
 
Ann passed away on April 25th in 2016 from Motor Neurons Disease and fought a brave battle against against the illness and was supported all the way by her husband Jamie and her loving family.
 
Jamie has a long association with both soccer clubs having coached and lived in Ardcroney the past 20 years and more recently coached at Ballymackey.
We are hoping to raise much needed funds for The Irish Motor Neurones Disease Association between now and Sunday July 25th.
 
The Event organisers would appreciate every like, share, comment, retweet and off course donation towards The Ann Gilmour Memorial Shield.
 
For  more visit here