Centre for Brain Research

Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility

Working together to improve lives

SCIRF team

Principal Investigator - Dr Simon O'Carroll

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.

Dr Simon O’Carroll is the Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility and a Principal Investigator at the Centre for Brain Research. Simon's research interests involve understanding the mechanisms of damage involved in spinal cord injury and developing therapeutic interventions such as those that modulate neuroinflammation and scar formation following injury

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 seventh year, the SCIRF 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.

To view Simon's academic profile at the School of Medical Sciences, please click here.



Team members









Professor Emeritus Louise Nicholson
Though now retired, Louise founded the Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility and upon departure, presented the unit with the largest single gift ever donated to the University by a retiring staff member. Her increadible donation of one million dollars will enable further research into finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Sam Parittotokkaporn – Research Fellow

Jarred Griffin - PhD candidate

Andrea Gu - Masters candidate

Connor Clemett - PhD candidate

Barbara Fackelmeier - Research Technician

Sheryl Tan – Research Assistant

Julia Newland – Msc

Chloe Rayner – Msc

Miran Mkela – Msc

Matt Woodall – Summer student

Sung Min Jun – Summer student 

Thomas Chang – Summer student 



  • Establish expertise in spinal injury models 
  • Maintain an ongoing research programme that further develops and supports international and clinical collaborations
  • Develop ongoing leadership in the area of spinal cord injury research

Areas of interest

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Translational research
  • Peptides
  • Inflammation
  • Viral vectors
  • Neurogenesis
  • Gene Therapy




For a full list of publications, please visit Dr Simon O'Carroll's academic profile here.




Marathon Team 2017 1

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.  



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