ACORD Fellows met in Edinburgh on 21 June 2023 during the ACORD Collaboration Annual meeting. The Fellows made the most of this opportunity to share their work and discuss ideas and there were some great presentations. Those visiting the city also took a tour of the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic and attended a group dinner. Thank you to those in Edinburgh for hosting such an enjoyable and memorable day.


One of our ACORD Fellows, the brilliant Dr Arpan Mehta, gave a wonderful update on MND SMART at the British Neuroscience Association 'International Festival of Neuroscience' in Brighton on Sunday 23 April: 'MND SMART - delivering innovation from bench to bedside'.  Congratulations Arpan!


The MRC CTU ACORD Fellows Academy held a meeting in London on Wednesday 22 March 2023. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Fellows to share their work, reflect on progress made and discuss challenges.



The national ACORD collaboration was formed in 2021 to encourage and support the development, running and reporting of national large scale phase III Multi-arm, Multi-stage Platform Trials (with their associated scientific and infrastructure projects) in four major neurodegenerative diseases:

  • Motor neuron disease (MND)
  • Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s Disease (PD) 
  • Dementia

By 2022 the collaboration reached the stage: (i) where a number of interventions have emerged for evaluation in pivotal phase III trials; (ii) a trial in MND was ongoing; (iii) a trial in Progressive MS had gained funding was planning to be launched; (iii) a trial in Parkinson’s disease was at planning stages, and (iv) a trial for the treatment of symptoms in Dementia had been submitted for funding.

Founding partners Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, Queen Square Institute of Neurology at UCL and the University of Edinburgh are overseeing work in the first three of these diseases, specifically the MND-SMART, the OCTOPUS trial in Progressive multiple sclerosis and the ACT-PD project laying the foundations for a large platform trial in Parkinson’s disease.

Academic partners in the ACORD enterprise include The University of Plymouth, The University of Warwick, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College, and The UK Dementia Research Institute.


The ACORD Fellows Academy

The ACORD Fellows Academy was launched in August 2022 to provide bespoke mentorship, training, and support to early career researchers affiliated to the collaboration’s major studies. There are currently 18 fellows ranging from academic Foundation doctors in the early stages of doctoral programmes to post CCT/early consultant grade postdoctoral researchers and doctoral and post-doctoral non-clinical fellows affiliated to academic centres across the United Kingdom, linked to these trials including for example  drug discovery programmes, novel biomarker discovery/validation, complex trial design methodology, digital/technology driven initiatives, co-production with patients, and delivery of new trials.

Terms of Reference

Fellows can join the academy if they satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Potentially future leaders/champions of clinical trials for neurodegenerative disorders

  2. Early career clinical and non-clinical researchers affiliated to ACORD's foundational and affiliated institutes (including UCL, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, University of Plymouth, Oxford University, King’s College London), and/or supervised by a senior ACORD investigator or associated with trials in the ACORD portfolio (both within the UK and Internationally*)
  3. Involved in researching/delivering areas associated with MAMS platform trials in one of the 4 targeted neurodegenerative disease areas including novel trial design methodology, drug selection, biomarker discovery, digital/other outcome measures within the ACORD portfolio of trials**

*International fellows can join meetings hybrid/online.  To be offered honorary contract with MRC CTU and can attend in person if in London

**Individuals linked to groups running trials which are not part of the ACORD family are not permitted to join.


Benefits of the Academy

The Academy is chaired by Professor Suvankar Pal (University of Edinburgh) and Professor James Carpenter (MRC CTU at UCL). Fellows meet in-person 6 monthly enabling them to share their progress and collaborate in a structured setting. Fellows are awarded an honorary contract at the MRC CTU at UCL and use of office and meeting room space to support/foster working along with an opportunity to meet with senior investigators in the ACORD team to discuss their research proposals/progress and receive feedback and support. Fellows join an inter-disciplinary community of clinical neurosciences and cross disease researchers (including oncology, infectious diseases) for virtual and in-person discussion and have access to advanced training opportunities including invitation to disease specific meetings (including NeuStats), and relevant seminars/meetings at the MRC CTU.