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Brokenwood has donated $25,000 to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Research because of a personal connection to the disease, with three staff being diagnosed with MS.

“We chose to work with the researchers and scientists at HMRI as they’re not only local, they’re also globally recognised leaders in their field. We believe that by donating, we can assist the HMRI team to continue to work on ways to unlock the cause of MS and work towards a cure" - Geoff Krieger, Brokenwood CEO. 

The funds will go towards research being conducted by Professor Jeannette Lechner-Scott, a specialist MS neurologist based at John Hunter Hospital and HMRI.

About HMRI

One person, one family, one community at a time, the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) fights the illnesses affecting lives throughout the world.

What began in 1998 as a bold vision to improve community wellbeing in the Hunter Region of NSW has today evolved into a world-leading comprehensive medical research institute with 1600 medical researchers, students, and support staff striving to prevent, treat and defeat a multitude of serious illnesses. HMRI’s researcher work across nineteen HMRI Research Programs to prevent, cure and treat a diverse range of serious illnesses by translating research findings made in the laboratory into real health treatments and preventative strategies.

Internationally-recognised research outcomes are being achieved in respiratory diseases, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, mental health, nutrition, pregnancy, fertility, immunology and more. Collaborations are being conducted with institutes and hospitals on all points of the globe.

HMRI provides vital funding and state of the art facilities to fuel research, but the heart and soul of the Institute are people – the researchers, the generous donors and supporters, the committed volunteers, and the patients who participate in trials and ultimately benefit from the research results.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

MS is the most common acquired chronic neurological disease affecting young adults, often diagnosed between the ages of 20 to 40 and, in Australia, affects three times more women than men. As yet, there is no cure.

There is no known single cause of MS, but many genetic and environmental factors have been shown to contribute to its development. In MS, the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the fatty material – called myelin – around the nerves. This results in a range of symptoms, but no two people experience MS in the same way.

Fraiah's Story


Meet Fraiah McDonald, Marketing Assistant at Brokenwood, 33-year-old mother of two girls, and woman living with MS. She’s been working here for the past 13 years while also dealing with the devastating diagnosis that she received when she was just 24 years old.

Fraiah says she first realised something was wrong when she kept getting pins and needles in her hips when she sat down.

“I went to see my GP and he sent me to get a scan of my lower spine. They didn’t find anything but over the next six weeks, it got worse. I ended up meeting my GP at the local hospital and being sent to John Hunter Hospital where I was diagnosed with MS that same day,” says Fraiah.

Since then, Fraiah has been dealing with a varied range of treatment options and has had to make adjustments as needed. She has switched to six monthly infusions of a drug called Ocrevus. She has also participated in two Hunter Medical Research Institute clinical trials since her diagnosis  – one exploring MRI techniques and one exploring the effects of vitamin D. 

“I don’t want it [MS] to control my life. I want to be as well as I can be for as long as I can be” says Fraiah.

Fraiah credits the support of her specialist MS neurologist, HMRI’s Professor Jeannette Lechner-Scott, and her Brokenwood family as being the things that make a major difference to her ability to cope.

How you can help

Make a donation to help this worthy cause. Or contact Rebekah Wilson at HMRI on (02) 4042 0711 or to learn more. 

Read the full media release here