Freemasons fund new drug discovery programme

A world-leading drug discovery programme is being developed at the Centre for Brain Research, thanks to a donation from the Freemasons of New Zealand.

 The generous gift of $248,000 will enable the development of new drugs for neurodegenerative disorders. The funding brings together an expert scientific team, including medicinal chemists led by Professor Margaret Brimble from the School of Chemical Sciences and neuropharmacologists working in the CBR Biobank.

 New drug compounds will be developed by synthetic chemist DrAmanda Heapy, who has been awarded the Freemasons fellowship for this work. The team has a unique library of 2000 bioactive natural products. These novel compounds will be tested directly on human tissues in the Biobank, to speed up the drug development process.

 Dr Heapy says: “Collaboration is key. With medicinal chemistry we need constant feedback from biologists about what direction to go and we hope to provide a more tailored service to the pharmacologists which will fast track the search for novel compounds. The Centre for Brain Research has the Biobank, facilities and all the procedures set up for us to do this, whilst the chemists have the compound library. Thus, working closely is a huge competitive advantage — having discussions in person and bouncing ideas off one another.

 David Mace is the Chairman of the Freemasons Roskill Foundation, and says: “The Freemasons are delighted to announce the funding of this fellowship to continue the valuable work by New Zealand researchers at the forefront of global investigation.”

A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed by Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon and the Grand Master of the Freemasons on 25th November, to celebrate the ongoing collaboration and support between the Freemasons and University research.

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CBR Aotearoa Fellows Announced

The CBR is pleased to announce the appointment of the two new Aotearoa Foundation Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellows at the Centre for Brain Research. Dr Gjurgjica Badzakova-Trajkov and Dr James Coxon will take up the posts in the near future.

The new fellowships are a generous gift from Julian Robertson’s Aotearoa Foundation in New York. They aim to support development of the Centre’s strategic initiatives, to help foster future research leaders here in New Zealand, and to progress world-class neuroscience research across the Centre for Brain Research. With a large number of excellent candidates, appointing the fellows was an extremely difficult and challenging task for the selection panel.


Dr Gjurgjica Badzakova completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Auckland in 2008, and is completing a Diploma of Clinical Psychology.  She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Corballis in the Department of Psychology.  She will work in the laboratory of Dr Lynette Tippett, along with Dr Suzanne Barker-Collo, Professor Mike Corballis and Professor Rob Kydd. Her project involves using Diffusion Tensor Imaging to examine white matter nerve tracts in patients who have had a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Dr James Coxon was a Bright Futures Doctoral Scholar and completed his PhD in 2007 at the University of Auckland.  He holds a post-doctoral fellowship in the Research Centre for Movement Control and Neuroplasticity at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.  When he returns to New Zealand he will work in the laboratory of Professor Winston Byblow, along with Professor Greg Anson, Dr James Stinear and Dr Nick Gant. His project will use Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to examine whether exercise can protect against neurodegeneration with aging.

We congratulate these two inaugural Aotearoa Fellows and look forward to welcoming them to the CBR.

There is one more Fellowship to appoint in 2012, and further announcements will made early in the year.

CBR postdoctoral fellow opportunities

The Centre for Brain Research is honoured to offer postdoctoral fellowships through the kind support of the Aotearoa Foundation.

These prestigious postdoctoral fellowships are funded by the Aoteoroa Foundation to enable an outstanding emerging scientist to undertake research within the Centre for Brain Research at The University of Auckland. The Aotearoa Foundation is committed to furthering New Zealand research, and offers this generous supprt to the CBR in pursuit of our goals.

We are looking for a candidate who has already shown the potential to be an independent research leader of the highest international calibre. The Aoteoroa Foundation has committed to funding three Postdoctoral Research Fellows, each for three years of duration, with the first appointment in 2011, the second in 2012 and the third in 2013. These are in support of the continued development of the Centre for Brain Research to help meet its goals as a major neuroscience centre in New Zealand, committed to identifying and developing new treatments for neurological conditions.
Read the CBR Vision statement.

The Centre for Brain Research supports basic and clinical scientists who work in a unique partnership with the community to undertake a spectrum of neuroscience research. Each Fellowship is available in any area of neuroscience that aligns with the centre’s central research themes of molecular and cellular neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, cognitive and computational neuroscience, and sensory and motor neuroscience.
Find out more about the CBR research themes.

We are especially seeking applicants whose work will facilitate the centre’s strategic goals to develop interdisciplinary research and core research technologies, such as Integrative Neuroscience Facilities, which will help establish models of human neurological diseases, a Biobank for the direct study of diseased human tissue for drug development and biomarker identification, and the translation of research into the clinic through the Brain Recovery Clinic. Read about our Strategic Plan.

The multidisciplinary nature of the Centre for Brain Research provides an excellent environment for the Fellow to engage with scientists and clinicians in a broad range of disciplines. Active participation in the centre’s scientific and community programmes will be encouraged. Find out more about the CBR events programme.

Project examples

APPLICATIONS

  • The 2010 closing date is 12 December 2010.
  • Applicants should have completed a PhD or equivalent postgraduate research degree (such as MD) within 6 years of applying.
  • For information on how to apply click here