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The Gordon Aikman Award

An annual award to improve the lives of people affected by motor neuron disease.

About the award

Photo of Gordon Aikman

This is an annual award to facilitate initiatives to improve the lives of people affected by motor neuron disease (MND). It is available to clinical researchers and healthcare workers in NHS Scotland or Scottish Higher Education Institutions, for projects directly relevant to the care or management of people with MND.

The Gordon Aikman award is an annual sum of £50,000, which is contributed equally by MND Scotland and the Scottish Government, and is administered by the University of Edinburgh. The award is made in recognition of the outstanding contribution that Gordon Aikman made to improving the clinical care of MND in Scotland and passion for delivering clinical trials. 

This generous award can be made either as a whole or several smaller packages, for proposals of duration 1-2 years. Awards of up to 3 years will be made in exceptional circumstances. It is expected that most awards will be of a value considerably lower than the maximum £50,000.


Suitable topics include, but are not limited to:

  • systematic review
  • research priority setting consensus exercise
  • intervention development
  • feasibility or pilot study
  • implementing and evaluating/monitoring new or innovative care practices
  • implementing at-scale, and monitoring, existing evidence-based care improvement intervention
  • a collaborative visit to an MND care centre outwith Scotland to learn  from others developing or implementing evidence based interventions for improving the care of those living with MND. This must be accompanied with some form of research/evaluation/implementation study as above
  • part support of a PhD studentship (up to £25K)

Basic (lab) science proposals, and applications to attend conferences, will not be considered.

Eligible costs

  • Salary - for example for a part-time research assistant or pro-rata NHS salary up to Agenda for Change Band 7  to enable appointment of a replacement.
  • Research consumables and specialist services
  • Travel, accommodation and subsistence

Directly incurred research costs can be included but no organisational overheads/indirect costs can be claimed.

Reporting requirements

Awardees will be required to submit an interim and final report. They will also be asked to present their work at the MND Scotland AGM and a Euan MacDonald Centre academic afternoon, and otherwise share their findings, learning and best practice with their peers and across Scotland. This is seen as an integral part of the award process.

Eligibility and assessment criteria

Applicants must:

  • be clinicians, allied health professionals, or academic researchers (e.g. social scientists, psychologists or clinical researchers) involved with MND care or research
  • be currently employed in the NHS or other formal/registered care delivery organisation in Scotland, or an HEI in Scotland, and living in Scotland.
  • have prior research experience. Proven successful delivery of high-quality research project(s) will be an advantage, especially in the field of MND research
  • be supported in their application by their manager
  • be able to demonstrate that they have time available for research

The proposal must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • is of relevance to the care/management of people with MND
  • has the potential to make a difference to direct patient care
  • is of significant importance and value to the NHS such that there is the likelihood of on-going NHS support and/or future financial support from external funding bodies
Gordon Aikman visits research labs with Donald MacDonald
Gordon Aikman visits the Euan MacDonald Centre MND research labs with Centre co-founder Donald MacDonald (June 2015)

Previous awards

Previous awards have been made to (i) develop multi-disciplinary working (ii) undertake remote respiratory assessments and (iii) help assess carer burden.

Application procedure

Applications are not currently open.


Applications comprise (i) a completed application form and (ii) 2-page CV of the applicant

Informal enquiries and applications should be sent to Judith Newton.

Applications will be considered by the Award Steering Committee. Projects must start within 12 months of the award being made.

Award Steering Commitee

  • Professor Siddharthan Chandran - Director of the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research & MacDonald Chair of Neurology, University of Edinburgh
  • Judith Newton - National Nursing Lead for MND / Consultant Nurse
  • Dr Rebecca Devon - Science Manager, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Scott Bryson, Chair of the MND Scotland Research Committee
  • John Lee - Professional Advisor for Nursing and Midwifery Education and NMAHP Research

About Gordon Aikman

The late Gordon Aikman was a Scottish political researcher and campaigner. He was Director of Research for the Better Together campaign during the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014. During that campaign he was diagnosed with MND, and he passed away in 2017 at the age of 31.

Soon after his diagnosis, Gordon founded 'Gordon's Fightback', a campaign  to lobby for better care for people with the condition.

A Trustee of MND Scotland and supporter of the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research, Gordon raised over £500,000 to invest in research.

Gordon also continued his campaigning with the Scottish Government, and largely due to his efforts, the NHS took up the funding of the Scottish MND clinical care team, also doubling the number of specialist nurses.

After his diagnosis, Gordon wrote a monthly column in the Sunday Times, and a BBC documentary,  The Fight of Gordon's life was made about him.

Gordon Aikman was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in 2015, and made a moving speech to medical graduates. In 2018, the University renamed the George Square Lecture Theatre as the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre.

Gordon Aikman

Related links

MND Scotland

Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research

MND Scotland and Scottish Government logos