FightMND – the legacy of a brilliant mind

When the brilliant mind of Dr Ian Davis OAM was cruelly afflicted with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), he channelled his energy into driving research into this debilitating disease – and profoundly influenced the way Australia has rallied to fight MND.

The talents of Ian Davis (BMBS(GradEntry) ’06) became obvious as he graduated as Dux of Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at Flinders University in 2006, achieving first class honours and several awards. After undertaking physician training at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, he specialised in Haematology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. But in 2011, at the age of just 33, Ian was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Frustrated by the lack of public awareness and funding into research, he began actively engaging with the media, doing major interviews with The Project, Sixty Minutes, A Current Affair, The Age and Herald Sun newspapers. He helped create a fundraising beer called Cavalier Courage, and filmed a documentary called Legacy – which traced his tandem bike ride with fellow MND sufferer Scott Sullivan along the east coast of Australia, raising awareness and funds for MND research.

Ian established the Cure for MND Foundation in 2014, now called FightMND, which has since raised over $57 million. As FightMND Chairman, Ian guided the funds into innovative and impactful research projects, driving researchers to engage in patient-focused research aimed at discovering new treatments.

This led to many important initiatives, including the FightMND Australian MND Drug Pipeline, a world-first high-throughput Drug Screening platform for MND, the Australian MND Precision Medicine Program and the Ian Davis Flinders University MND Biomarker Facility, named in his honour.

It also paved the way for further successful FightMND awareness and fundraising campaigns – especially the annual Big Freeze event hosted by the AFL at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, driven by former football star and MND sufferer Neale Daniher.

Ian’s tireless lobbying also led to clinical trials for MND in Australia for the first time, and his efforts to drive MND translational and clinical research resulted in Australia being recognised as one of the world’s leading MND research hubs.

Ian passed away from MND in November 2018 and received a posthumous Queens Birthday Award in 2020 for service to people living with Motor Neurone Disease, and to medicine.

Dr Ian Davis OAM received a 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award (posthumous) for his distinguished contribution, commitment and service to people living with motor neurone disease, notably through the establishment of FightMND, which has improved the MND research landscape within Australia.

If you would like to support life-changing MND research at Flinders University please contact Bonnie Allmond +61 8 7421 9995 or

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Alumni Awards to recognise Flinders University graduates who are making a difference in their field, to the community or to the University. Nominate now

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