Centre for Brain Research

Human Neurodegeneration Lab

Working together to improve lives

Human Neurodegeneration lab

Studying live human brain cells

The human neurodegeneration lab is run by Professor Mike Dragunow who is a Neuropharmacologist and Neuroscientist.

The lab's research focuses on molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration and repair, and on developing novel treatments for brain diseases using adult human brain material, tissue microarray, primary adult human brain cell cultures, molecular pharmacology, high throughput devices and high-content analysis.

These combined research tools are being used to study the causes of brain disorders such as Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Motor Neuron Disease, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s and to test and develop new treatment strategies. They also study the causes and treatment of brain tumours.

The mechanistic focus of their studies is to elucidate the role of blood supply (including a leaky blood-brain barrier) and inflammation in brain disorders by growing human brain cells, using them to both study these processes and test new treatments.

Most recently, the team has been able to grow adult human neurons from neurosurgical donors, which holds great promise for understanding and treating human brain disorders.

Mike directs the Hugh Green Biobank, the tissue microarray and high content screening facility, and Neurovalida, a commercial platform. Most recently, working with neurosurgeons Ed Mee and Patrick Schweder from Auckland Hospital, and Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull, Director of the CBR, they have established the CBR Neurosurgical Research Unit, which Mike now directs. They will soon appoint the inaugural Douglas Research Fellow to conduct neurosurgical research



  • Understand the causes of brain disorders and brain tumours using adult human brain and human brain cells.
  • Test novel therapies for brain disorders – focusing on enhancing capillary function and reducing brain inflammation - using patient derived human brain cells. 
  • Develop novel methods to study the human brain and human brain cells
  • Develop therapies for brain tumours


Research Technicians

  • Miranda Aalderink
  • Sheryl Feng
  • Christa MacDonald

Research Fellows











  • Dr Thomas Park 
  • Dr Emma Scotter 
  • Dr Deidre Jansson 
  • Dr Kevin Lee
  • Dr Malvindar Singh-Bains
  • Dr Nasim Mehrabi
  • Dr Jane Wu
  • Dr Catherine Morgan
  • Dr Louise Stubbing
  • Dr Yewon Jung
  • Dr Leon Smyth 


PhD Students

  • Clinton Turner
  • Charlotte Dunne
  • Jena Macapagal
  • Serey Naidoo
  • Micah Daniel Austria
  • Molly Swanson
  • Taylor Stevenson
  • Fengzhe Liu
  • Yi-han Wu
  • Adelie Tan (2019)
  • Zoe Woolf (2019)

Neurosurgeon collaborations

  • Mr Edward Mee
  • Mr Patrick Schweder
  • Mr Peter Heppner
  • Mr Jason Correia



This team has received funding from the following entities:



For a full list of publications, please visit Professor Michael Dragunow's profile here


Thomas Park2