Understanding the causes and consequences of metabolic dysfunction in motor neuron disease (MND)

The Ngo group is interested in understanding how metabolic homeostasis at the systemic and cellular level can impact upon neurodegenerative processes. The group's Metabolic Exploration in Neurodegenerative Disease (MEND) research program centres on Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a fatal neurological condition in which the average life expectancy is 27 months following diagnosis. In MND, the irreversible degeneration of neurones in the central nervous system leads to progressive paralysis and eventually, death. There is no effective treatment for MND, and hence no cure. The group is using mouse models of MND, and human myosatellite cell-derived muscle fibres and human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurones to not only understand the mechanistic nature of MND, but to also conduct pre-clinical testing of potential therapeutic compounds. The combined use of mouse and human-derived models are integral to our goal of translating research findings into clinical trials for MND.

A/Prof Shyuan Ngo completed her undergraduate and PhD training at UQ. After completing her PhD in 2009, she took up a postdoctoral position at UQCCR to introduce a translational edge to her research program. In 2012, she was awarded a Bill Gole Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia (MNDRIA) and returned to the School of Biomedical Sciences with this fellowship to continue her research program in motor neuron disease (MND). In 2015, Dr Ngo was awarded the Scott Sullivan MND Research Fellowship. In this position, she conducts research between the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ, and the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and the Wesley Hospital to address how changes in energy metabolism affects the course of MND, whilst working to develop therapies for MND.

A/Prof Ngo's primary research focus is to understand the causes and consequences of metabolic dysfunction in MND. She is particularly interested in identifying which metabolic pathways are disrupted in MND/ALS and how targeting these pathways might correct for defective energy balance, and prolong survival.


Dr Ngo collaborates with international researchers and neurologists in Paris, Strasbourg, Utrecht, and London, and with a strong clinical team at the Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital and Wesley Hospital with the broader goal of translating basic research to the clinic. In collaboration with researchers in China and Australia, she is also interested in investigating how induced pluripotent stem cells may be used as a therapeutic avenue in MND.



Industry engagement

Aeterna Zentaris (AEZS)


For a full list of publications, please click here.


  • 2022-2024: Steyn, Ngo. Aeterna Zentaris (AEZS)
  • 2022: Steyn, Ngo, Teifel. MNDRA NTI MND Research Grant ($99,976)
  • 2021-2023: Turner, Vucic, Kiernan, Ngo, Spedding, Loeffler. FightMND Clinical Trials Grant ($2,000,000)
  • 2021: Ngo, Steyn, Shaker, Ng, Nguyen. MNDRA Charcot Award, funded by the NTI MND Research Grant – awarded to the highest-ranking Innovator Grant submitted to MNDRA in 2020 ($100,000)
  • 2021: Steyn, Ngo, Minchin, van Eijk, Henderson, Wray, McCombe, van den Berg. MNDRA MonSTaR MND Research Grant ($100,000)
  • 2021: Steyn, Henderson, McCombe, Ngo, Minchin. RBWH Foundation Research Grant ($49,170)
  • 2020-22: Ngo, Steyn, Noakes. National Health and Medical Research Council Ideas Grant ($696,210)
  • 2020-22 : Ngo, Wang, Steyn, Walker, Garton. MNDRA Betty Laidlaw MND Research Prize ($249,720)
  • 2020-22: Ngo, Henderson, van den Berg, Al-Chalabi, Steyn, van Eijk, Loeffler. FightMND Drug Development Grant ($718,125)
  • 2020-22: Steyn, Ngo, Henderson, van den Berg, van Eijk. FightMND IMProving and Accelerating Translation (IMPACT) Grant ($249,931)
  • 2020: Steyn, Ngo, Noakes, Gordon. MNDRA Fat Rabbit MND Research Grant ($100,000)
  • 2020 : Ngo, Henderson, McCombe, Steyn, Gordon. RBWH Foundation Research Grant ($39,964)
  • 2019 : Wolvetang, Mar, Ngo. UQ Genome Innovation Hub Project ($50,000)
  • 2018-19: Steyn, Guo, Henderson, McCombe, Ngo. Wesley Medical Research Grant ($84,120)
  • 2018: Ngo, Steyn, Powell. MNDRA MonSTaR MND Research Grant ($99,960)
  • 2018 : Steyn, Ngo, Chachay. MNDRA Marie McGrath MND Research Grant ($99,453)