Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility

Working together to improve lives


The Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility (SCIRF), funded by the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust, was established in 2011 by Professor Louise Nicholson, Dr Simon O’Carroll and Professor Colin Green.

Positioned within the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, the SCIRF has the full support of the CBR Director, Distinguished Professor Richard Faull, and has direct access to all of the infrastructural support available within the CBR and the Faculty.

Now in its sixth year, the SCIRF is directed by Dr Simon O’Carroll and has made significant progress on a number of specific research fronts, such as preventing inflammation by Connexin Mimetic Peptide delivery and treatment, gene therapy, scar inhibition. This is exciting world-leading research that is progressing to clinical trials.

One of the primary goals of the facility has been to establish expertise and maintain spinal injury models that can be accessed by researchers working on spinal injury within the CBR here in Auckland and from throughout New Zealand, and to maintain an ongoing research programme and further develop both local and international biomedical and clinical collaborations.


The team

Professor Louise Nicholson is the principal investigator of the Molecular Neuroanatomy Laboratory in the Centre for Brain Research.

She is internationally recognized as an authority on molecular neuroanatomy of the human brain, and has expertise in both cellular neuroanatomy and the molecular measures of neuropathology in both animal models and in human neurodegenerative diseases.

Her research group currently focuses on the role of gap junctions in central nervous system injury, repair and neurodegeneration.

View Professor Louise Nicholson's academic profile here.

Dr Simon O’Carroll is a research fellow in the Centre for Brain Research. He has expertise in the use of animal models for spinal cord injury and will lead the running of the unit.

Dr O’Carroll’s research interests focus on the role of connexins in spinal cord injury, neuroinflammation, neurodegenerative disease and neurogenesis.

View Dr Simon O'Carroll's academic profile here

Professor Colin Green has published widely in the fields of gap junction biology and their roles in development, health and disease and has an established research interest in central nervous system and spinal cord injury.

View Professor Colin Green's academic profile here


AndrewLauPhotography (19 of 35)

The goal: Capacity for the future

Developing young and emerging neuroscientists and growing leadership in the area of spinal cord injury research is an essential goal of the SCIRF so that a culture of collaboration and intellectual stimulation will continue to develop.

We believe significant benefit for the SCIRF and the CBR will arise by fostering the opportunity for collaboration and connection between scientists and clinicians at the District Health Board spinal units in Mangere (Auckland) and Burwood (Christchurch).

Furthermore, by attracting and developing world-class researchers from New Zealand and internationally we will develop future leaders within the field and maintain an international research standing in the area of spinal cord injury and repair.

This drive will support the continued development of the SCIRF and help meet its goals as the only major spinal cord research facility in New Zealand committed to identifying and developing new treatments for spinal cord injury and repair.  


If you'd like to contact the Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility, please email Dr Simon O'Carroll now. 




'One in a Million' campaign to raise funds for SCI research

The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research Trust was founded in 2005 by Catriona Williams. Following a riding accident in 2002, she is now C6/C7 tetraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. A cure for all spinal cord injuries was Catriona's dream – and so CatWalk was born!

Our Centre is extremely grateful for the CatWalk Trust's partnership, as this non-profit actively raises funds to support our Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility (SCIRF).

This year, the Trust has launched the 'One in a Million' campaign, to fund our world-class research, find a cure for SCI and get Kiwi's out of wheelchairs and back on their feet.


To contribute to this inspiring campaign, text WALK to 2448 and be one of the million Kiwi's that will help make paralysis a thing of the past!

Click here to view the campaign on the CatWalk Trust's website.



View our Scientists and 'One in a Million' campaign on Seven Sharp