Issue 7| 20 May 2016 |

An exciting fortnight of events and achievements

Professor Richard Faull

Dear Colleagues,

The last two weeks have been very exciting with special events and achievements showcasing the diversity of activities across the Centre for Brain Research.

First, we had a fantastic gala night on Tuesday 10th May at the Auckland Museum for 200 of our donors and supporters who had played a major role in the establishment of the Academic Unit in Neurosurgery. The evening was generously sponsored by Freemasons New Zealand.

As detailed in the Newsletter below, the evening showcased the extraordinary research opportunities which are available through collaboration between neuroscientists at the Centre for Brain Research and neurosurgeons at the Auckland City Hospital which have been greatly facilitated by the appointment of Patrick Schweder as the Freemason’s Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery.

Over the last weekend, neuroscientists and clinicians from across the CBR who specialised in innovative research and clinical studies on Huntington’s disease (HD) contributed to a series of outstanding lectures at the National Huntington’s Disease Conference at the Waipuna Conference Centre.

The weekend conference was an outstanding success and was preceded by HD families visiting the CBR on Friday afternoon for a lecture and a tour of The Neurological Foundation Douglas Human Brain Bank.

One of the many highlights of the conference was the launching of HD Youth Organisation of New Zealand (HDYO-NZ) which has been established to provide support, advocacy and education for young people affected by HD. HDYO-NZ is the dream child of CBR neuroscientists Malvindar Singh-Bains, Nasim Mehrabi and Samantha Murray.

In the words of the team:  “We feel extremely fortunate to be in a position to take our science one step further and support our community. It is very rewarding that as scientists we not only get to research pathways that could lead to new therapies to treat HD, but now we can also engage with young people affected by this disease to support and advocate for them.”

Finally I want to especially acknowledge the huge impact of a very significant paper by Rutherford Discovery Fellow, Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in April 2016  on ‘Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging’.

This paper (as detailed below) is a role model of the great benefits of both direct translational research and reverse translation, from the clinic back to basic science.

As you will see on the Almetric website, Suresh’s paper is in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric and is on track to be one of the most published science stories worldwide in 2016! Congratulations Suresh, that is phenomenal and a great example of the world class research being pursued at the CBR.


Warm regards,


Director, Centre for Brain Research

The University of Auckland


A Voyage into the Brain: An inspiring evening of neurosurgery and research

Mr Ari Bok, Sue Giddens from the Neurological Foundation, Mr Edward Mee, Professor Richard Faull and Mr Patrick Schweder, minutes before the event started.

Last Tuesday evening, the Centre for Brain Research, in collaboration with the Neurological Foundation and the Freemasons, hosted “A Voyage into the Brain: Showcasing the Latest Advances in Neurosurgery and Research” at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

The event was a public celebration of the collaboration between the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland and Auckland District Health Board’s Neurosurgical team.

This vital partnership enables neuroscientists and clinicians to work together to increase knowledge of the human brain and develop new therapies that could improve the quality of life for New Zealanders.

A major step in the development of this collaboration between the CBR and the ADHB was initiated last year with the appointment of neurosurgeon Mr Patrick Schweder as the first “Freemasons Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery”.

“A Voyage into the Brain…” was hosted by Distinguished Professor Richard Faull, Director of the CBR, and featured updates from neurosurgeons in collaboration with the Centre, a Q & A session and the personal journey of Andy McDowell; a young Aucklander who has benefited from the revolutionary procedure of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease.

The event feedback was unanimously positive, as most deemed it a compelling display of discovery, talent, passion, camaraderie and hope.

The evening was attended by our Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, ADHB leaders and neurosurgeons, our Dean of Research, Lady Claire McKinnon, Dame Rosie Horton, Sir Graeme Douglas and Sir John Graham among others.


The CBR acknowledges the support of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand and the Freemasons.


CBR hosts first NZ Music Therapy Week Symposium

One news reporter, Will Hine, interviews a member of our CeleBRation Choir.

New Zealand’s first ever Music Therapy Week is taking place from 21–29 May. The theme of the week is Celebrating Music Therapy.

The focus of these events is to raise awareness of music therapy and highlight all the great work happening around the country.

This inaugural Music Therapy Week is hosted by Music Therapy New Zealand (MThNZ) and facilitated by universities and organisations throughout the country, from Auckland to Christchurch.

In Auckland, our Centre is collaborating with MThNZ and hosting the first ever Music Therapy Week Symposium on Tuesday 24 May at Tamaki Innovation Centre. This event will also include a recital by the CeleBRation Choir.

Established in 2009 by the Centre for Brain Research, the CeleBRation Choir is a singing group for people living with neurological disease, particularly stroke or Parkinson's, carers and volunteers.

When: Tuesday 24 May, 1-5pm

Where: Tamaki Innovation Campus, 261 Morrin Road, Saint Johns, Auckland. Room 722.201

We invite you to be a part of this exciting day of music therapy by registering your attendance here.

If you’d like to download a copy of the event programme and poster, click on the links below.

***If you'd like to view reporter Will Hine of One News interview CeleBRation Choir members and academics, tune in to One News this Saturday 22 May at 6pm***

Register now for Brain and Mind Asia Pacific Symposium (BMAP)

The University of Auckland and the City of Sails will be the host of this year's BMAP Conference.

Plasticity of the Brain and Mind is this year's Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Conference theme.

Hosted by Associate Professor Maurice Curtis and held in Auckland City Hospital, this year's Brain and Mind Asia Pacific Conference has keynote speakers from centers of research excellence in Europe, the United States and New Zealand.

Brain and Mind Research (BMAP) 2016 will be taking place from 23-25 August.

This year's topics include;

  • Molecular neurobiology
  • Genetics and neuroimaging
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Clinical neuroscience
  • Sensory neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience

Registration and abstract submission are now open. To register and/or submit an abstract click here. Abstract submission will close on Sunday 31 July 2016.

Full registration: $500
Student registration: $250
Day registration: $300
Conference dinner:$100

For additional information on pricing and abstract submission, please contact Mirelle Powell.

Click here to view keynote speakers and access additional information.

BMAP has been timed to allow delegates to also attend two major conferences in the South Island of New Zealand; the Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research (AWCBR) in Queenstown from 26-31 August and New Zealand Medical Sciences Congress (MedSciNZ) in Nelson from 29-31 August.

American neurosurgeons host the next CBR Seminar

Exchange students from the University of Gothenburg, Marcus Svensson and Johan Karlsson, pose with collaborating US neurosurgeon Lisa Feldman after a CBR Seminar.

'Current Controversies in the Management of Brain Arteriovenous Malformations'

Dr Dale Ding (ADHB)

Brain arteriovenous malformations (AVM) are rare and unstable cerebrovascular lesions. We will discuss the current controversies in the management of brain AVMs and explore potential areas for ongoing translational and clinical research efforts.

Dr Dale Ding is a neurosurgeon from Duke University School of Medicine and has been in practice for over five years. Dale has been in New Zealand working for Auckland District Health Board since July 2015.

'Neurological applications of focused ultrasound'

Dr Robert Dallapiazza (ADHB)

This talk will discuss the background and current clinical trials of transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound lesioning in neurosurgery and discuss advances in ultrasound neuromodulation and blood brain barrier opening.

Dr Robert Dallapiazza is a neurosurgeon who received his medical degree from University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and has been in practice for over five years. He is also currently working for Auckland District Health Board.

When: Thursday 26 May, 10.30-11.30am

Where: Earnest and Marion Davis Library , Auckland City Hospital.

Contact information: Email Frankie Favero


The Centre for Brain Research acknowledges the contribution of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand. 

Rutherford Discovery Fellow achieves worldwide recognition

LSD's impact on the brain is revealed in this trail blazing study.

'Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging'

Rutherford Discovery fellow and CBR member Dr Suresh Muthukumaraswamy has been part of a media frenzy, as his highly acclaimed research study into the effects of LSD on the brain has unlocked the potential for the drug in psychological research.

The study’s uniquely comprehensive examination of the LSD state represents an important advance in scientific research with psychedelic drugs at a time of growing interest in their scientific and therapeutic value.

The now published research, explains how the drug breaks down the parts of the brain that usually separate different functions, like vision and movement, creating a more integrated brain. It was also found that in people who are having drug-induced hallucinations that visual cortex is more strongly connected with other parts of the brain.

By breaking down parts of the brain that are usually separate, drugs like LSD may have a therapeutic effect that outlasts the initial euphoria.

This international research study has had Suresh collaborating with scientists in the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil and Canada, and results were published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

PNAS Paper: ’Neural correlates of the LSD experience revealed by multimodal neuroimaging’, Robin L. Carhart-Harris et al. PNAS, April 2016.