Centre for Brain Research

Human Neurodegeneration Lab

Working together to improve lives

Mike, Patrick and Richard

Studying live human brain cells

The human neurodegeneration lab is run by Professor Mike Dragunow who is a Neuropharmacologist & 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 have also developed a more recent strong interest in 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.

View Professor Dragunow's profile at the School of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences here


Team members











Dr Thomas Park – Research fellow

Dr Emma Scotter – Research fellow

Dr Deidre Jansson – Research fellow

Mr Patrick Schweder - Freemasons Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery

Justin Rustenhoven – PhD candidate

Leon Smyth – PhD candidate

Jason Correia – Masters student

Miranda Aalderink - Research technician

Sheryl Feng - Research technician

Inna Semenyajenko - Research technician

Sue-Ling Kim - Research technician


Thomas Park2


  • 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

Areas of interest

  • Molecular and cellular neuroscience
  • Molecular pharmacology
  • High throughput cell and tissue imaging and analysis technologies
  • High content analysis and screening
  • Human cell-based biological models
  • Adult human brain cell culture
  • Adult human brain tissue microarray



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