About Us

Our MISSION is to support the discovery of a cure for rare muscle and nerve diseases that lead to muscle weakness, disability and death.

Our VISION is to be the trusted charity uniquely positioned to distribute targeted financial support to focused research and clinical trials into novel treatments for rare diseases of nerve and muscle.

Our VALUES – the Foundation supports investigations that are:

  • N – novel and needs appropriate
  • E – evidence-based and expertise-driven
  • R – researcher-led and patient – centric
  • V – visionary and collaborative
  • E – ethical and inclusive

Nerve Connection Foundation was established in 2021 to raise funds for critical research and clinical trials into devastating nerve and muscle diseases for which there are no cures or effective therapiesMembers of the community would be familiar with motor neurone disease (MND) however it is only one of a bundle of similarly devastating diseases, known collectively as the orphan diseases. 

Funding is injected directly into investigations targeting rare diseases that lead to muscle weakness, disability and death.  The end game is the discovery of effective therapies that ultimately lead to a cure.

Dr Robert Henderson is the instigator of the Foundation. He is a Brisbane neurologist with over 25 years’ experience in his chosen field and a special interest in the orphan diseases, in particular MND.

Time in Northern America early in Rob’s career saw him working alongside brilliant minds – mentors who  gave him the strongly held belief that diseases of the brain and nerves were medicine’s last frontier. Two decades later that frontier has been crossed, and these once mysterious illnesses are far better understood. 

But there is still much to be done.  Nerve Connection Foundation is supporting the investigations of the next generation of brilliant minds as they work towards a cure. 

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The Orphan Diseases

The relatively small group of rare diseases that cause enormous problems for sufferers, their families and communities include:

  • motor neuron diesase (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Pompe disease
  • spinal muscular atrophy
  • inclusion body myopathy
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • mytotonic dystrophy
  • many forms of muscular dystrophy

Find out more about the research and clinical trials supported by the Foundation.

Strong connections between healthy nerves are vital.  Likewise connections with the wonderful supporters of this Foundation.

Nerve Connection Foundation is governed by volunteers, each with a specific area of expertise, ranging from neurology and research to finance, law, media and communications. This keeps compliance costs to a minimum, which means more targeted spending on research into novel therapies for these devastating diseases.

The Nerve Connection Foundation Board

The People Behind the Nerve Connection Foundation

Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO

Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO

Patron

Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO is a Queensland lawyer, academic and human rights advocate.  She holds degrees in Arts and Law from The University of Queensland and was admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1965.  Dame Quentin has held many positions of service, including Director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Queensland and the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner.  In 2003 Dame Quentin was appointed Governor of Queensland, and later became the first female Governor-General of Australia, a role which she held from 2008 – 2014.  A life of service has seen Dame Quentin awarded many honours, including Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Companion of the Order of Australia and most notably Dame of the Order of Australia in 2014.  Nerve Connection Foundation appreciates greatly the support of this accomplished woman and wonderful Australian.

Associate Professor Robert Henderson MBBS (Hons), PhD, FRACP

Associate Professor Robert Henderson MBBS (Hons), PhD, FRACP

Director and Advisory Board Chair

A graduate of The University of Queensland, Dr Henderson undertook his neurology traineeship at the RBWH. After attaining his fellowship in Neurology from the Royal Australian College of Physicians, he continued his studies at the Robart’s Research Institute in Canada and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, USA, becoming a Senior Neurophysiology Fellow.

He is a member of the Australian Medical Association, the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists, and Co-Director of the RBWH Motor Neurone Disease Multi-Disciplinary Clinic.

Rob is very involved in clinical neuromuscular research, and the driving force behind the establishment of Nerve Connection Foundation.  Rob’s passion for research and results makes him an excellent chair of the advisory board.  His expertise, connections and dedication are an asset to the Foundation and its aims.

Wendy Blucher LLB, GAICD, AGIA

Wendy Blucher LLB, GAICD, AGIA

Managing Director and Company Secretary, Advisory Board Member

Wendy Blucher was appointed managing director of Nerve Connection Foundation in 2024.  She holds a Bachelor of Laws and is admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Courts of Queensland and Victoria and the High Court of Australia.  She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an Associate of the Governance Institute of Australia.

Wendy has 25 years’ experience as a commercial solicitor.  She has worked in private practice and in-house, most recently in the tertiary education and not-for-profit sector.  She was instrumental in establishing Nerve Connection Foundation  and has served on the Queensland Advisory Board of Starlight Children’s Foundation.  In addition to her role as managing director, Wendy contributes significantly to the legal, governance and compliance aspects of the work of Nerve Connection Foundation.

Professor Pamela McCombe MBBS, BSc, FRACP, PhD

Professor Pamela McCombe MBBS, BSc, FRACP, PhD

Director and Advisory Board Member

Dr McCombe graduated in Medicine from The University of Queensland before training as a neurologist at Sydney’s Prince Henry and Prince of Wales Hospitals.  She went on to obtain a PhD from The University of Sydney before gaining extensive experience in Neurophysiology in Cleveland, USA.  Pam is former Head of the Royal Brisbane Clinical School in the School of Medicine and Co-head of the Brain and Mental Health Theme at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research. She currently has research interests in multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and other neuromuscular diseases. 

Pam is the past president of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists.  She is the first female and Queenslander to hold the position.  Pam has also served on the boards of the RACP Foundation, the Brain Foundation, and the ANZAN Research and Education Foundation.

Pam’s dedication to and operational understanding of the study of neurology and clinical trials make her a very welcome contributor to Nerve Connection Foundation.

Michael Williams B.Com, Dip FC, CA

Michael Williams B.Com, Dip FC, CA

Advisory Board Member

Michael has four decades of experience in accounting and finance, including the areas of audit, tax and business services. He is a Director of Hall Chadwick Qld, Chartered Accountants, an independent member of the national Hall Chadwick Group, Australia and New Zealand.  

Michael has previously worked with not-for-profit organisations, has been on Assurance and Audit Committees, and now provides professional advice across a broad range of industries and business structures. His financial acumen, pragmatic approach and commercial nous, are assets well utilised on the advisory board.  Michael also brings a considerate and caring approach to his work with Nerve Connection Foundation.

Kylie Blucher

Kylie Blucher

Advisory Board Member

Kylie Blucher is the Managing Director of Nine Queensland and NBN Television in NSW.  She has spent more than 25 years working in the television and radio industry, and has extensive knowledge of the Australian media landscape.  Kylie contributes immense understanding of marketing, communication and commercial strategy to the advisory board.

Kylie has held several board positions over the past 10 years, including Major Brisbane Festival (Deputy Chair), Surf Lifesaving Queensland Foundation, the Queensland Eye Institute Foundation, Youngcare, the Queensland Performing Arts Trust and currently sits on the Tourism & Events Queensland Board and the Committee for Brisbane.

Kylie brings to the advisory board a wealth of executive and business experience, and a real dedication to assisting others. 

Melissa Watter BA (Journalism & Government)

Melissa Watter BA (Journalism & Government)

Advisory Board Member

Melissa is a highly skilled strategic communications professional, passionate about the power of compelling organisational storytelling.  Her journalism career included working as a senior political reporter, and reporting and producing roles in news and current affairs with the Seven and Ten networks.  In 2000 Melissa co-founded a successful consultancy, Sequel PR, which for over two decades delivered strategic marketing, crisis management, and public awareness communications advice to private and public sector clients nationally.

Melissa has extensive experience working with scientists, clinicians and researchers to translate complex information to a broad audience and is currently the Director of Corporate Affairs and Marketing at the Translational Research Institute Australia.

Melissa is a trusted advisor of Nerve Connection Foundation, contributing enormous communication and commercial expertise to the advisory board.

Dr Helen Brown MB, BCh, BAO, FRACP, MPhil

Dr Helen Brown MB, BCh, BAO, FRACP, MPhil

Vice Patron

Dr Helen Brown graduated in Medicine from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She relocated to Queensland in 2001 and attained her neurology fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. She was awarded a Master of Philosophy from Griffith University in 2011.

Helen is the Deputy Director-General of Clinical Director of Clinical Excellence Queensland.  She is passionate about ongoing education and is the Queensland Chair for the Australian and New Zealand Association for Neurologists Education Committee and a Senior Lecturer with The University of Queensland. 

Helen brings to her role as Vice Patron of Nerve Connection Foundation a drive to re-imagine how neuroscience care is delivered in the future by aligning a research program to a clinical innovation agenda.

Postal Address

c/- Hall Chadwick
GPO Box 389
Brisbane QLD 4001