Centre for Brain Research

Human Brain Plasticity and Neurodegenerative Diseases Group

Working together to improve lives


Principal Investigator - Associate Professor Maurice Curtis

Associate Professor Maurice Curtis completed his PhD in 2004 before working in Sweden until 2007. He returned to New Zealand to establish a team focussed on enhancing brain plasticity, researching degenerative brain diseases and identifying the earliest changes that occur in the brain in degenerative diseases.

Maurice is the Deputy Director of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Human Brain Bank and is actively involved in communicating science to the broader community. He also maintains a number of very active collaborations in Sweden, Germany and the USA.

View Maurice's full profile at the School of Anatomy here.



Team Members










Dr Hector Monzo, Postdoctoral fellow

Studying neural plasticity.

Dr Victor Dieriks, Postdoctoral fellow

Studying the early origins of Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Natacha Coppietiers, Postdoctoral fellow

Developing assays for drug screening.

Dr Sheryl Tan, Postdoctoral fellow

Studying the structure and workings of

the olfactory system in normal and Parkinson’s


Marika Eszes, Human Brain Bank Manager

Technical and logistical expertise in the brain

bequeathal process.

Kristina Hubbard, Research technician 

Technical oversight for the Faull and Curtis


Bonnie Gardner, PhD student

Studying metals in the brain in Parkinson’s


Lakshini Mendis, PhD student

Studying lipid changes in the hippocampus

in Alzheimer’s disease.

Helen Murray, PhD student

Studying brain plasticity in Alzheimer’s disease

with a focus on the hippocampus.

Mandana Ghodratipour, PhD student

Studying lipid changes in the caudate

nucleus and subventricular zone in

Huntington’s disease.

Molly Swanson, Biomedical Honours student

Studying exercise induced neurogenesis in

sheep brains.

Stephanie Khuu, Physiology Honours student

Testing novel potential drugs for activity for

application in Parkinson’s disease.




  • Enhance brain plasticity.
  • Understand how neurodegeneration affects the brain in different disorder.
  • Discover the earliest changes that occur in the brain in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Areas of interest

  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Brain plasticity
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Stem cells



For a full list of publications, visit the School of Anatomy with Radiology.