Back in June during FightMNDs Big Freeze football match and charity lunch, I met Matteo Pitteri. Matteo is a first year PHD student at The MND Laboratory, which forms part of The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. We soon became Facebook friends and he invited me to return to Melbourne in August to present to the research team and tell my story.
I met over twenty MND researchers on the day, they each introduced themselves and gave me a bit of insight into the amazing work they do. Other than one young lady whose grandfather had passed away with MND, I was so surprised to learn that the majority of researchers had never actually met someone with MND! So that was my purpose!
Using an amazing AI text-to-speech generator tool, I was able to create a presentation for the researchers using a voiceover and PowerPoint. You can check it out here. This technology gives me the opportunity to present my story in my own words, without sounding too robotic, although occasionally the Aussie pronunciation can be a bit dodgy at times. It’s incredible how human-like this technology sounds and it opens up a lot of opportunities for me to transform my content into audio to reach a wider audience.
But, back to my time in the Lab! It was great to hear about their work first hand and give them a glimpse into my daily life with MND. We then had the opportunity to take a tour of the facilities. The Florey Institute is the fifth largest brain research group in the world, and fittingly the building itself is shaped like a brain! As you’d expect, the lab facilities are world class. There is an entire room designated especially for MND research thanks to the amazing support and funding by FightMND. We saw mouse brains and spines which are used for research purposes and there was one machine alone which cost 7 million dollars! It can automatically test five thousand different medicines to see if a cure can be found. To do this by hand would have taken years.
It was an amazing opportunity to see first hand what is being done to defeat this terrible disease. I boldly suggested to the lab manager, who has worked there twenty years and is very keen to know what I am doing, that together we will find a cure. You never know!
It was an awesome experience and one I will remember forever.