Lecture Library

Treatment milestones - Dr Alan Stanley

Dive into the forefront of medical innovation with Consultant Neurologist Dr Alan Stanley. Join us as Dr Stanley shares recent groundbreaking changes in treating motor neuron disease (MND), including explanations of the promise held by man-made antibodies, genetic therapies, and cutting-edge devices like brain-computer interfaces. Hear how patients could benefit from exciting new treatment options. Secure your seat for an enlightening evening exploring the future of neurological care.

“In Conversation with Sir Richard Faull,” a truly special evening in the hometown of an extraordinary scientist. Listen as Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull unveils the ‘inchstones’ — adding up to neurological research milestones — that have paved his remarkable career. We’re excited to bring you this intimate discussion with a living legend. Secure your spot now for an evening of inspiration, wisdom, and unforgettable stories!

Fresh Parkinson's research

What are the genetic risk factors in Parkinson’s disease? What part does epigenetics play? What can blood biomarkers tell us? How many people are affected, and what are their main concerns?

Join the Neurological Foundation and Christchurch-based brain researcher Dr Toni Pitcher as she discusses her fascinating insights into Parkinson’s disease. Learn how her important work is shining a light on the 12,000 New Zealanders living with the disease, and helping us find ways to move forward in a positive way.

On the verge of a breakthrough?

Alzheimer’s disease treatment is one of neurology’s greatest challenges. Although researchers have been working hard for over 30 years on drug treatments, they’ve only been able to address the symptoms. Now, new therapies are being developed that have potential to directly attack the disease’s causes. Are we on the verge of a breakthrough?

Reducing damage from brain tumour radiation therapy, with Dr Thomas Park

Brain tumours can be devastating. Due to their potentially aggressive nature, treatment often requires surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This often comes at a significant cost to patient health, with up to 50% of patients developing radiation-induced injury to their brain. Dr Thomas Park is a Senior Research Fellow at the Neurosurgery Research Unit at the Centre for Brain Research. He and his research team are working to reveal new information about this collateral damage.

The Science of Concussion, with Dr Josh McGeown and Dr Helen Murray

Dr Josh McGeown and Dr Helen Murray are passionate about both sport and neuroscience. Watch them at this event as they discuss their fascinating research into head injury in contact sport.With an introduction by Distinguished Professor, Sir Richard Faull.

Reducing damage from brain tumour radiation therapy
Dr Thomas Park - 7th November 2023

Our digital discovery event series brings you world-class research, straight from the lab to your lounge! Join us for this event with Dr Thomas Park, a Senior Research Fellow in the Neurosurgery Research Unit at the Centre for Brain Research. 

From the inner ear to your brain
Zay Melville - Hamilton, August 2023

Good balance is something most of us take for granted. But what about those of us with neurological conditions that impact our balance? What part is played by hearing, and what can be done to manage people's symptoms? Check out this event where we travelled to the mighty Waikato to hear from clinical audiologist and Neurological Foundation O'Brien Fellow Zay Melville who is researching how the balance system is affected by neurological conditions.

A brain in your gut?
Dr Elodie Kip - August 2023

Our digital discovery event series brings you world-class research, straight from the lab to your lounge! Join us for this event with Dr Elodie Kip, an Assistant Research Fellow in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago, to learn about the gut-brain axis and its implication in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

A History of Pacific Voyaging and Parkinson's disease
Dr Christina Buchanan - July 2023

Our July Digital Discovery event took us on a journey through the Pacific nations; unravelling the correlation between a single gene variant (PINK1) and the occurrence of Early Onset Parkinson's disease (EOPD) in Pacific peoples. Check it out today!

It's not all in your head - Parkinson's
Dr Sophie Farrow - June 2023

Another fascinating Digital Discovery event, Dr Sophie Farrow takes us on a journey through the human genome, understanding the science of gene variants and the incredible technology being used to better understand the role genetics play in complex neurological disease like Parkinson's.

Can we predict the future? Exploring stroke recovery
Olivia Norrie - May 2023

Our first Digital Discovery event for 2023! We were joined by Olivia Norrie, Senior Physiotherapist at Auckland Hospital who discussed her work on the PREP 2 algorithm for predicting stroke recovery outcomes in patients. Check out the recording and hear about what she discovered and what it meant for patients and their families. 

Brain Awareness Month - Eye spy: The role of inflammation in neurodegenerative disease
Dr Lola Mugisho - March 2023

Rounding out our Brain Awareness Month activities, we were joined by Dr Lola Mugisho who is a senior research fellow and the Deputy Director of the Buchanan Ocular Therapeutics Unit at the University of Auckland. Dr Mugisho took us on a decade long journey into eye health and how we can use our eyes as a window to the brain. This talk was a fascinating journey of a researchers work, and covers the exciting development of phase 2 clinical trials for a drug treatment happening right here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Check it out today!

Brain Awareness Month - What's up with your brain - scientifically speaking?
Professor Denise Taylor & Professor Bronwen Connor - March 2023

This very special event saw us joined by two top researchers in the beautiful PWC building in downtown Auckland. Professor Taylor from AUT shared with the audience her research into balance - making sense of it and staying up right at all costs. Whilst Professor Connor took us 'Back to the Future' with a look into the mind-blowing world of cell reprogramming. 

Brain Awareness Month - A night at the movies: Adventures in gene therapy and stem cells.
Professor Stephanie Hughes - March 2023

We were delighted to visit Timaru and bring with us one of University of Otago's top researchers! Professor Hughes took us on a journey, to 'a galaxy far far away' where we explore the opportunities in stem cell research and gene therapies. We also take a look at the story of 'Planet of the Apes' and its ideas.

Brain Awareness Month - Making (& breaking) memories: A decade of insights into brain health
Dr Owen Jones - March 2023

Dr Owen Jones joins us for this discussion about memories - how they are formed, how they are broken and what can be done to preserve and better understand this process in the brain. Co-hosted by U3A Wakatipu, be sure to check out this event for tips on how to have a healthier brain for longer.

Brain Awareness Month - Melanoma on the move: The role of the blood-brain barrier
Dr Akshata Anchan - March 2023

Dr Akshata Anchan joined us from Auckland University's Centre for Brain Research to discuss her work on Melanoma, NZ's third most common cancer in women and men. Dr Anchan specialises in studying cancer cells which migrate to the brain. Her work looks at how and why these cells are able to permeate this protective barrier of our brain. 

Brain Awareness Month - Bright Sparks: New tech bringing fresh hope for spinal cord injuries
Dr Bruce Harland - March 2023

Our first online event for Brain Awareness Month was a fascinating one, looking into the development of an implant that uses electrical pulses to help stimulate the regeneration of cells of an injury site in the spinal cord. Check this one out to have your mind blown by the incredible work being carried out right here in NZ.

Brain Awareness Month - Collisions and concussion: The impacts of impact
Professor Nick Draper, Stefan Henley and Danyon Stitt - March 2023

Kicking off the festivities for Brain Awareness Month we headed to Christchurch for a discussion about concussion in Rugby. Professor Draper and his team have been studying the effects of impacts during NZ's most popular game. Researching strictly in youth teams, Professor Draper and his team shared how they collected their data and some preliminary findings. Be sure to check this one out!

Women in Science - Neonatology, neuroscience and new developments

Distinguished Professor Dame Jane Harding, Dr Sian Williams and Dr Nike Franke - February 2023

Hosted by our Head of Research Dr Sarah Schonberger, and our very first event for 2023, this event kicked off our Women in Science event series for the third exciting year! This event was an enlightening discussion featuring three amazing wāhine working in the field of neuroscience at Auckland University's Liggins Institute.
Check out the video where you'll hear about amazing projects the team are working on to help improve outcomes for premature babies and their whānau. If you're looking for inspiration and advice about a career in neuroscience or any of the health sciences then this video is for you! We hope you enjoy.

Understanding Memory Panel

Professor Cliff Abraham, Associate Professor Stephanie Hughes and Dr Shane Ohline, October 2022

Hosted by our Head of Research Dr Sarah Schonberger, this event featured presentations from three of Otago's leading researchers focussing on Memory. Professor Cliff Abraham, Associate Professor Stephanie Hughes and Dr Shane Ohline discussed their work on memory impairment, neurogenesis and Alzheimer's Disease.

Parkinson's Disease and multiple system atrophy with a touch of Covid.

Dr Victor Dieriks, August 2022

Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy are neurological disorders affecting over 10 million people worldwide. In both of these conditions, toxic clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein form in the brain. Previous research suggests that the building blocks of these clumps are the same but that the 3D structure can vary, giving rise to unique alpha-synuclein 'strains'. Dr Dieriks and his team think that these different 'strains' are responsible for the different types of Parkinson's disease and that future treatments will need to be specific for each strain. Dr Dieriks' is investigating this in brain tissue from patients who died with these diseases.

During this event, Dr Dieriks discusses some of the causes of these diseases, his recent findings and how understanding these strains could offer new hope for developing effective treatments.

As an emerging leader in Parkinson's disease research, he focuses on the biology of neurodegeneration with the ultimate goal of finding a therapy that will delay or stop the onset of these chronic conditions.

Treating: Multiple Sclerosis

Professor Anne La Flamme, Wellington, July 2022

Watch our event in Wellington where we heard from Professor Anne La Flamme who discussed the development of disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.

In MS, resulting nerve damage disrupts communication between the brain and the body. Multiple sclerosis causes many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue and impaired coordination. The symptoms, severity and duration can vary from person to person. Some people may be symptom free for most of their lives, while others can have severe, chronic symptoms that never go away. Physiotherapy and medication that suppress the immune system can help with symptoms, and slow disease progression.

During this event, Professor La Flamme covered the idea of re-purposing existing drugs to treat MS along with the advantages and sometimes-unexpected findings. Looking at not only the biology, but the logistical issues faced when developing therapeutics for degenerative diseases such as MS.

Understanding: Brain Cancers

Dr Melanie McConnell in Lower Hutt, July 2022

The brain is a vulnerable organ - to trauma, to damage and to degenerative diseases. However, brain cancers have a reputation for being invulnerable, and hence very difficult to treat.

This event was LIVE in Lower Hutt where Dr Melanie McConnell discussed her research to understand this dichotomy and find the weaknesses in brain cancers that can be exploited for treatment.

The McConnell lab team work to improve the efficacy of treatment, and hence the odds for people diagnosed with brain cancers. They are particularly focused on glioblastoma, the most aggressive brain cancer, and use a range of tools to understand why brain cancer cells don’t die and what can be done about it.

Improving the outcomes of stroke in NZ

Professor Cathy Stinear & Professor Alan Barber, July 2022

Hosted by Neurological Foundation’s Head of Research Dr Sarah Schonberger, this event discussed the impacts and outcomes of stroke research. Professor Cathy Stinear and Professor Alan Barber shared information on stroke treatment in New Zealand, where it’s been, where it is now and where we are going. They covered developments that have changed patient outcomes and how these treatments are being used elsewhere around the world.

Professor Cathy Stinear, University of Auckland, is a clinical neuroscientist at Auckland City Hospital working with patients to promote recovery following stroke. Professor Stinear and her team are striving to improve the rehabilitation outcomes of those affected by stroke across New Zealand. Her work focuses on using biomarkers and prediction tools to tailor rehabilitation for individual patients, maximising their recovery. Professor Stinear is also the Chair of Neurological Foundation’s Governing Council and was Chair of the Neurological Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee from 2015-2019.

Professor Alan Barber, University of Auckland, is also a clinical neurologist and Clinical Lead of the Auckland City Hospital Stroke Service, Taiao Ora. Professor Barber and his team introduced the clot-busting drug alteplase, which became New Zealand’s first-ever acute stroke treatment. In 2011, the team then introduced the revolutionary stroke clot retrieval treatment, where a catheter is used to remove the clots that cause stroke, significantly improving neurological outcomes and saving hundreds of people from a disabled future. Professor Barber is the Chair of Clinical Neurology, funded by the Neurological Foundation to bridge the gap between research and clinical treatments for neurological disorders.

Understanding dementia with Angela Caughey

Angela Caughey, June 2022

There are not many people, without formal medical training, that know as much about dementia as Angela Caughey. Through years of research followed by three books on the subject, Angela has an incredible ‘all-rounded’ knowledge of this devastating disease.

Dementia is a degenerative disease that slowly results in the loss of cognitive functions to the extent that it interferes with daily life. Its prevalence means that it affects more than 70,000 Kiwis. That’s nearly 1.5% of our population. But it also affects many more: the partners of the people with dementia, their children, their siblings, their friends, and so on. During this event, author Angela Caughey will be discussing her latest book A Better Brain for Life, as well as content from her previous dementia-related books, from caring for and communicating with someone who has dementia, to preventing the condition itself.

Angela’s books are available through calicopublishing.co.nz or most major booksellers.

Motor Neuron Disease; Who develops it, why, and what we are doing about it?

Dr Emma Scotter, May 2022

As many as 150 New Zealanders are diagnosed with motor neuron disease (MND) each year. The rate of MND in New Zealand is among the highest in the world, but who develops the disease and why? MND can run in families but is most often diagnosed in people with no family history, who are caught totally unaware. In this talk, I will discuss the factors that increase the risk of developing MND; namely genetics and environmental agents. I will also discuss what we know about MND in New Zealand, based on findings from our national genetics study and our programme of human brain tissue research, and put this into context against international findings. Finally, I will detail how collaboration between our biomedical research team, various clinical teams, and the patient care and advocacy group MND NZ, is enabling the establishment of NZ clinical trials for MND.

Dr Scotter was the recipient of a W & B Miller Doctoral Scholarship in 2005, and a Neurological Foundation travel grant in 2007 and has served on Neurological Foundation Scientific Advisory Committees in 2019 and 2021.

This talk will be of interest to people living with MND, their families and friends, students, clinicians, and anyone who has ever wondered about neurodegeneration or the brain. Bring along your questions and your curiosity!

Understanding sleep dynamics in cognitive decline

Dr Deidre Jansson, April 2022

Sleep is critical for overall health and homeostatic processes in all mammals, however the reasons why sleep is important are incompletely understood. In the past decade, researchers have discovered that sleep promotes the clearance of CSF-derived molecules, acting to cleanse the brain of potentially toxic metabolites. More importantly, studies have shown that this cleansing process is impaired in both age and the setting of Alzheimer’s dementia. Deidre has recently returned from Seattle, Washington where she trained under world-experts in CSF dynamics and clinical dementia to investigate role of both sleep and circadian rhythms in driving disease processes. Deidre will speak about her work in Seattle and how she is applying her findings to understand the relationship between sleep disruption and cognitive decline in the setting of acute critical illness here in NZ.

Controlling our movements with an emotional brain

Dr Rebekah Blakemore, March 2022

There is growing evidence that emotions, stress, and some neurological disorders are intertwined. Dr Blakemore will talk about her current research which focusses on understanding how acute stress can alter normal motor control and exacerbate movement dysfunction in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Understanding the impact of acute stress on movement control may inform development of emotion-movement interventions to improve motor function in people with PD.

Protecting babies' brains for the future

Associate Professor Max Berry, March 2022

Associate Professor Max Berry has dedicated her research and career to safeguarding babies’ brains. As a neonatal intensive care specialist, she asks herself daily how she can safeguard the neurodevelopmental potential and wellbeing of babies throughout New Zealand. In 2018, Dr Berry received a project grant from the Neurological Foundation to investigate a very special treatment called neurosteroid analogue therapy to prevent the many behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders concerned with premature birth. This event will focus on what has already been discovered and what Dr Berry and her team are working towards for future therapies for premature babies.

Epilepsy and the brain

Professor Lynette Sadleir, March 2022

In her clinical role as a paediatric epileptologist, Professor Sadleir diagnoses and manages children with epilepsy. In this talk, Professor Sadleir will discuss how she is helping to identify and refine emerging genetic epilepsy syndromes, and the genetic abnormalities that cause them. The identification of new epilepsy syndromes and genes leads to a deeper understanding of epilepsy with implications for diagnosis, prognosis, and development of new treatments.

Professor Sadleir has been funded by the Neurological Foundation to research epilepsy in Māori Children, and to compare the causes and comorbidities in Māori children with epilepsy to non-Māori children with epilepsy.

Developing new treatments for glioblastoma

PhD Student Elizabeth Cooper, March 2022

During this talk, Elizabeth will discuss her research into better understanding and treating the aggressive brain cancer known as glioblastoma. Elizabeth has the unique privilege of being able to use cells grown from brain tumours donated by patients through the Hugh Green Biobank. Working with medicinal chemists at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, her work uses fluorescent dyes combined with existing targeted chemotherapies to better understand and hopefully improve their blood-brain barrier uptake and tumour specificity, two key issues that challenge the use of these drugs for brain tumours.

Building blocks of the brain: Insights into how the brain functions

Dr Karl Iremonger, March 2022


Our brains control everything about us - our movements, our emotions, and our memories. These complex behaviours are generated by the coordinated action of billions of individual brain cells called neurons. Each neuron functions like a tiny computer relaying information from one part of the brain to another. When these neurons fail to function properly, this results in devastating neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or depression. Because we don’t know enough about how brain cells work, when they malfunction, the clinical treatments are often poor or ineffective.

Dr Iremonger will discuss research that is shedding new light on how healthy brain cells function. This basic biomedical research is leading to a more complete understanding of how the brain works and is in turn the development of new drug targets and treatments for neurological disorders.

The role for the immune system in neurodevelopment

Dr Hannah Jones, February 2022

Dr Hannah Jones is a consultant paediatric neurologist at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland and a Neurological Foundation Senior Clinical Research Fellow. She has a special interest in neuroimmunology and movement disorders and recently completed her PhD at the University of Sydney investigating an association between Maternal Autoimmunity and Inflammation in Childhood Tic Disorders and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Women in Science; featuring Professor Bronwen Connor

February 2022

The Women in Science series is an opportunity to learn more about the brains behind leading research happening right now in New Zealand. Hear from researchers just starting their career and what led them to neuroscience, to seasoned scientists and clinicians working on ground-breaking research that is changing the lives of Kiwis everywhere.

These events celebrate the wonderful women who are making an incredible difference in neuroscience. They will focus on their careers, experience, passion for neuroscience and a little bit about their research

Women in Science; featuring Dr Louise Bicknell

February 2022

The Women in Science series is an opportunity to learn more about the brains behind leading research happening right now in New Zealand. Hear from researchers just starting their career and what led them to neuroscience, to seasoned scientists and clinicians working on ground-breaking research that is changing the lives of Kiwis everywhere.

These events celebrate the wonderful women who are making an incredible difference in neuroscience. They will focus on their careers, experience, passion for neuroscience and a little bit about their research

Digital Discovery: Tinnitus and the brain

Associate Professor Yiwen Zheng, October 2021

From ringing ears, to ringing brains: Tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ears, is a debilitating condition affecting the quality of life for many individuals. Tinnitus is also a risk factor in many occupational environments where effective auditory function is needed. With the increasing prevalence of tinnitus due to an increase in the elderly population as well as risky music-listening behaviours in the younger generation, future increases in tinnitus-related unemployment and tinnitus-related accidents in the workplace are likely. This could have a significant negative economic burden on both New Zealand and the healthcare system. Unfortunately, no effective treatment for tinnitus is currently available. This is mainly due to a lack of understanding of where and how this phantom sensory perception is generated and perceived. This talk will explore the involvement of different brain structures in tinnitus and the potential to identify biomarkers for tinnitus in order to develop personalised treatment.

Digital Discovery: Multiple Sclerosis and the brain

Professor Anne La Flamme, October 2021

Professor Anne La Flamme is a senior immunologist at the Malaghan Institute at Victoria University of Wellington, where she leads the multiple sclerosis (MS) research programme. Her research focusses on optimising current treatments and finding new drugs to improve the lives of people living with MS. Anne's extensive research career has spanned the University of Washington, Cornell University, and the Whitehead Biomedical Research Institute. Anne will be speaking about her research into MS, particularly around promoting remyelination with the drug nalfurafine which is commonly used to treat itching in patients with kidney failure.

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