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CBR News. August 2018
Newsletter of the Centre for Brain Research

From the Director

It’s been a busy few months for the CBR. In early July we hosted the North Island Brain Bee here in Auckland. The event was a great success, thanks to our staff and volunteers. The students who attended really enjoyed their day – the quiz, the lab tours meeting scientists and the interaction with CBR people. Brain Bee is a flagship outreach event for CBR and provides a great opportunity to showcase what we do and the research facilities in the CBR. Previous winners, Stefan Ivanov, Matthew Fulton and Nicholas Kondal attended this year’s event and it was wonderful to see them promoting neuroscience to their peers.

Brain Day took place at the end of July. This event is made possible through a great partnership between CBR, the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand and Brain Research New Zealand (BRNZ). I talked to lots of people on the day who expressed appreciation for being part of the event. Visitors were excited to hear about the great research going on and children loved the activities. One of the special features of the day is the opportunity it provides for community and support organisations to meet, talk and pursue new opportunities to help and support people with brain disorders. Thank you to our Committee, volunteers and participants for helping make another great event

Both events provide a great opportunity for us to share our successes, thank our donors and supporters and engage with the community.

Thank you to everyone at CBR for your dedicated support.

Richard signature

Sir Richard Faull
Distinguished Professor of The University of Auckland 

We hope you enjoy receiving this newsletter to help keep you up-to-date with what is going on around the Centre for Brain Research. If you have items you’d like to submit for future issues please email:

Brain Bee 2018 LC2

Brain Bee 2018

On Thursday 5 July we hosted over 160 high school students from around the North Island who took part in the 2018 NZ Brain Bee North Island finals.

Sophia Ye from ACG Parnell College came first in the individual category with Menaal Mehamood from Westlake Boys High School and Kaia Tupu-South from Westlake Girls High School coming a close second and third. In the team category Diocesan came first with ACG Parnell College second and Westlake Boys High in third place.

A large group of students from Northland attended this year's Brain Bee through the Moko Foundation (watch the story on Māori TV).

The final awards were presented by CBR Director, Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull. Read more

Brain Day 2018-18

Brain Day

Brain Day 2018 – The Amazing Brain: Research, Community and Care – was held on Saturday 21 July at the Sir Owen G Glenn Building.  We promoted brain science to the public with three panel discussions featuring the themes of dementia, traumatic brain injury and the brain and machine as well as talks by community groups, a Community Expo, interactive science and games and activities for all ages. Read more



At the start of July we said farewell to Professor Michelle Glass who has moved to the University of Otago as Head of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Professor Glass spent 18 years at the University of Auckland. For the last six years she was head of the Department of Pharmacology and was appointed Professor of Pharmacology in 2017.



We recently welcomed Dr Rachael Taylor as our 2018 Aotearoa Fellow. Rachael is an audiologist and neuroscientist with both clinical and research qualifications and interests. She completed a Masters of Audiology in Auckland in 2001 and then worked at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London. She returned to New Zealand in 2016 after completing a PhD in vestibular physiology at the University of Sydney.

Rachael’s research will investigate the possible causes and mechanisms underlying dizziness and imbalance following mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) or concussion.

New Research Advisory Committee Members

Thank you to everyone who voted in the RAC election. The RAC plays a vital role in the future research direction and development of the CBR and the expertise and involvement of Committee members is greatly appreciated. The full Committee is listed below:

Professor Steven Dakin (Chair) FMHS
Professor Russell Snell (Deputy Chair) FoS
Dr Richard Roxburgh ADHB
Dr Fabiana Kubke FMHS
Dr Andrea Kwakowsky FMHS
Associate Professor Henry Waldvogel FMHS
Dr Samantha Holdsworth (new RAC member) FMHS
Dr Margaret Dudley (new RAC member) FoS
Dr Gary Cheung (new RAC member) FMHS/ADHB

wendy fleming


Wendy Fleming
Our congratulations to CBR Advisor Board Member Wendy Fleming, for being made a Royal Society Te Apārangi Companion (CRSNZ) for her contributions to the promotion of dementia research in New Zealand. Read more.

Bronwen raw

Associate Professor Bronwen Connor
Congratulations to Associate Professor Bronwen Connor on her appointment as a Member of the Order of New Zealand, honoured for services to the treatment of neurological disorders. Read more.

Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble, School of Chemical Sciences

Professor Margaret Brimble
Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble who has achieved another first - as the only New Zealand-based woman scientist elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. Read more.


Neurological Foundation short project grants were recently awarded to two CBR People. Read more.

  • Dr Kevin Lee, Department of Physiology
  • Dr Amy McCaughey-Chapman, Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology


Gavel Club Talk-a-thon - the Gavel Club held a Talk-a-Thon fundraiser at Tamaki campus at the start of June. Club members spent two hours doing what challenges them – talking about a variety of topics. The event was a great success with plans to repeat it in future (photo right).


Cuppa Tea for MND - members of the CBR team got behind Cuppa Tea for MND to raise funds for MND New Zealand (photo left).


CBR in the Media

  • Professor Alan Barber discusses new Pharmac funding. Maori TV
  • Dr Kate Riegle van West’s PhD research into the use of poi. Stuff
  • Professor Alan Barber discuss the life-saving clot retrieval procedure. Stuff
  • Sir Richard Faull, talks to Am Show hosts, about the wonders of the human brain. Newshub
  • Sir Richard Faull, discusses the importance of his Māori heritage to his research. e-tangata
  • Dr Brigid Ryan attends a community hui in Gisborne. Gisborne Herald
  • Students from Northland attend Brain Bee through the Moko Foundation. Māori TV
  • Dr Emma Scotter comments on why Zealand has above average death rates from MND. NZ Herald  The Project
  • Associate Professor Maurice Curtis talks about the study funded by the Health Research Council (HRC). NZ Herald
  • Dr Brigid Ryan discusses the multi-generational study that hopes to pinpoint changes occurring before the onset of clinical dementia. TVNZ 1News
  • Dr David Moreau talks about the MovingCog initiative. Radio NZ
  • Associate Professor Maurice Curtis talks about the future of Parkinson's research. Stuff
  • New MRI method developed by Dr Samatha Holdsworth. FMHS news

Upcoming events and notices

Aug 22 – ‘Walk the Talk’ Catwalk Trust event for participants of the New York and Auckland Marathons who are raising funds for Catwalk for Spinal Cord Research. 501-505, Centre for Brain Research.
Aug 31 – Learning Differences Workshop: ‘How can we promote better learning in the classroom?’ 9.30am-1pm. Speakers: Kate de Groot (Parent and practitioner), Marie Kelly (Educational Psychologist, Kidz Therapy), Emma Ratcliff (Occupational Therapist, Kids Therapy). 
Aug 25-31 – Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research (AWCBR) Queenstown, New Zealand.
Sept 4 – Farewell Symposium for Professor Donna Rose Addis Le Va Fealoa'i - Relational Space. Speakers include Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull, Associate Professor Lynette Tippett and Dr Reece Roberts. RSVP by 28 August  More information

CBR Seminars 
15 August 1-2pm  Professor Karen Zito  Centre for Neuroscience, University of California Davis. Sculpting the nervous system: cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural circuit refinement.
22 August 2-3pm  Dr Asim Beg - Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan Of Mice and Men… and Worms: Regulators of Neuronal Plasticity and Neurodegeneration
CBR Clinical Seminar
23 August 10-11.30am
 Professor Ronald Melki, Université Paris Saclay Institute of Neuroscience  Prion-like propagation of protein assemblies in neurodegenerative diseases. 
Location: CBR Seminar Room, 501-505,  Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

CBR Early Career Researchers Committee
The recently trialed mentoring programme for postdocs/research fellows and students was a success with both mentors and mentees finding it a rewarding experience. We now have a new group of mentors to extend this programme and are calling for students and postdocs/research fellows to take part. Reply to Dr Simon O'Carroll for more information or with a personal statement explaining what you hope to get out of the mentoring programme.