Centre for Brain Research

Motor Neuron Disease Research Lab

Working together to improve lives


Principal Investigator - Dr Emma Scotter

Dr. Scotter is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow at the Centre for Brain Research. She completed her PhD in 2009 and worked in the UK until 2013. She returned as an Aotearoa Fellow working with Professor Mike Dragunow to establish a team dedicated to motor neuron disease research.

Through interactions with the Hugh Green Human BioBank and the NZ Neurological Foundation Douglas Human Brain Bank, Dr. Scotter’s lab uses primary human brain cells and human brain tissue to study motor neuron disease, focussing on TDP-43 proteinopathy and the role of non-neuronal cells. 



Team Members










Professor Mike Dragunow, AI                          

Molecular mechanisms of human brain neurodegeneration

Dr. Deidre MacVeigh, Postdoctoral fellow

Drug discovery and mechanisms of blood-brain-barrier dysfunction

Andrew Siemens, Technician

Research support and characterisation of C9ORF72-positive human brain cells

Sarah Waters, Honours student

Mapping blood-brain-barrier leakage in motor neuron disease

Jayne McLean, Manager of the New Zealand Motor Neurone Disease Research Network


  • Explore interactions between genetic causes and protein pathology in motor neuron disease
  • Examine the role of cell waste disposal systems in motor neuron disease
  • Understand the role of non-neuronal cells and the blood-brain-barrier in motor neuron degeneration

Areas of interest

  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Cellular modelling of neurodegenerative disease
  • Protein structure and quality control
  • RNA processing
  • Neuropathology
  • High content imaging and analysis


This team has received funding from the following entities;



For a full list of publications visit Dr Emma Scotter's profile.