Dream money for neuroscience research

Generous donors have kick-started two exciting new neuroscience projects in the Centre for Brain Research.

The first donation will enable our NeuroDiscovery Unit (formerly called the Integrative Neuroscience Facilities) to appoint a new Technical Manager in 2013. The generous support of $100,000 comes from Dame Jenny Gibbs, a CBR Ambassador and long-time friend of the University of Auckland. Funding has also been boosted by a donation of $50,000 from an anonymous donor via our website.

CBR Director Professor Richard Faull says, “I call this dream money, as it gets these imaginative blue sky projects off the ground. We are just so grateful for this generous support to help fight neurological disease.”

The NeuroDiscovery Unit is led by Associate Professors Bronwen Connor and Nigel Birch and undertakes pre-clinical neuroscience research. The technical manager will organise and run the unit to enable collaboration across the CBR.

A grant of $50,000 from the Freemasons of New Zealand has also supported an imaginative new initiative for Alzheimer’s research led by Professor Russell Snell. This will bring a group of international experts together to plan a worldwide collaborative research programme for the development of a transgenic sheep model for Alzheimer’s disease. This research will be driven from the CBR and involve leading geneticists and Alzheimer’s researchers from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Million dollar donation for New Zealand’s first Biobank for brain research

A million dollar donation has enabled The University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research to establish the country’s first Biobank for brain disease.

 The generous gift from the Hugh Green Charitable Trust will fund the vital development and operational expenses of the new Biobank, which will house human cells and tissues from patients with brain disorders for expanded lab-based research into brain disease. While there are cancer tissue banks, this will be the first brain-oriented Biobank in the country.

 Centre Director Professor Richard Faull is delighted at what this donation will mean for the University.

 “The Biobank will be an incredible resource for our scientists and clinicians and will hopefully enable the discovery of new methods of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of brain disorders,” said Professor Faull.

The cell and tissue resources will be available for research right across the Centre and will complement the Human Brain Bank resources. The Biobank will be the stimulus for promoting new research collaborations between CBR clinicians and neuroscientists following patients through the course of their disease.


“The Biobank will enable the neuroscientists in the Centre to identify markers of disease progression and directly test the effectiveness and safety of potential new treatments,” said Professor Mike Dragunow who will lead the Biobank.

 Trust spokesman John Green is extremely excited about the opportunity to become involved with Professor Faull and The Centre for Brain Research.


“We believe medical research related to the brain has the potential to help solve the mysteries of so many medical conditions which affect people every day. We have confidence that the team led by Professor Faull are the right people for us to invest in and we welcome an ongoing relationship towards finding answers and improving the lives of those who are affected by a neurological disease,” said Mr Green.


The funding will be spread over five years and will also support the soon-to-be launched Brain Recovery Clinic at the University’s Tamaki Campus.

 This is the second major donation for the Centre for Brain Research since its launch in November 2009. Earlier this year, the Centre received nearly a million dollars from the Aotearoa Foundation for new Post-Doctoral Fellowships.

 Professor Faull is overwhelmed by the support the Centre has garnered in its first year of operation.


“The generous backing we have seen proves to me how highly esteemed our scientists and clinicians are and how important it is for the country to have a top-class facility dedicated to making breakthroughs in the field of brain research,” said Professor Faull.