In September 2013, the University of Auckland in partnership with the Neurological Foundation, launched a campaign for an Academic Appointment in Neurosurgery. The objective was to appoint a top class neurosurgeon with expertise in research. Someone who could provide a bridge and promote novel and imaginative research collaborations, between brain researchers in the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland, along with neurosurgeons in Auckland and Starship Hospitals.
Before starting the search, the Appointments Committee reflected and agreed that the best long term strategy for the development of a world class academic unit of neurosurgery at the University and the ADHB, was to attract a young, vibrant neurosurgeon who would develop a track record of excellence in both brain surgery and research. This person would be chosen based on their demonstrated international potential and leadership qualities. They would grow and develop an exciting collaborative research programme between the CBR, the University and the ADHB. The search process began in June 2014. It was rigorous, comprehensive and worldwide, with strong candidates from around the world.
In the evening of Wednesday 9th of September, we were pleased to announce the successful neurosurgeon to the post of Freemasons Senior Lecturer of Neurosurgery: Dr Patrick Schweder.
Patrick is a graduate of the University of Auckland. He began his training in neurosurgery at Auckland City Hospital. He then pursued advanced training in neurosurgery and research at the Universities of Melbourne, Cambridge and Oxford, and, most recently at St Vincents and the Royal Alfred Hospitals in Sydney.
Patrick has a very impressive list of international referred research publications and has been awarded numerous international research awards from North America and Europe. He has extensive neurosurgical experience from around the world, which covers a broad range of vascular, functional and tumour neurosurgery. Above all, Patrick is passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated to making a difference. Since taking up his appointment 8 weeks ago, he has already engendered a mind-set change in our CBR neuroscience-neurosurgical relationships.
Our PhD students and postdoctoral research fellows have attended Patrick’s neurosurgical operations in the hospital and collected human brain tissue samples with the patients consent for culture and research studies in our CBR laboratories. Patrick participates in our research labs in the University and his presence in our research laboratories has transformed our research environment and excited and inspired our graduate students. Their eyes have been opened wide to the massive opportunities, for advancing the frontiers of brain research to the benefit of everyone in the world.
Our Director, Distinguished Professor Richard Faull, welcomed Patrick as the inaugural Freemason’s Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery on behalf of the Centre for Brain Research. After this, the Vice Chancellor, Neurosurgeon Edward Mee and then Patrick spoke outlining their visions and the research opportunities. In Patrick’s own words, this is his “dream position”.
Professor Faull's speech mentioned and thanked all the donors; The Freemasons, Sir Graham Douglas and Sir David Levene for enthusiastically supporting and enabling our vision.
The total fundraising now stands in excess of $4 million. These contributions, together with the critical support of the ADHB who funded half of the academic neurosurgical post and the foundation support from the University of Auckland and the Robertson Foundation in New York, enabled us to begin the search last year.
We now look forward to the exciting research developments in neuroscience and neurosurgery which will follow from this partnership between neuroscientists and neurosurgeons in the Centre for Brain Research and ADHB. Patrick will present his vision for neurosurgery research at a CBR seminar and at a public lecture later this year.
Below are some selected photos from the exciting evening which was enjoyed by all.