Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Human Brain Bank


Professor Richard Faull, BMedSc MBChB Otago, PhD DSc, FRSNZ


Dr Maurice Curtis


Dr Henry Waldvogel


Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland

In 1994 the Human Brain Research Group at the University of Auckland headed by Professor Richard Faull was granted funds by the Neurological Foundation to purchase a minus 80 degree chest freezer. This freezer became the foundation of the only human brain bank in New Zealand and set Professor Faull and his team on an extraordinary brain research journey. The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Human Brain Bank is now acknowledged as a world-class scientific resource. It is located in the Centre for Brain Research in the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

The ability to store fresh frozen human brain tissue was a huge advancement in the Department’s research programme and complemented the existing fixed tissue collected over the previous 10 years.

Neurological disease research

The Human Brain Bank now houses one of the most extensive collections of human brain tissue in the southern hemisphere with tissue from nine different neurological diseases and tissue from over 70 normal brains. Research on this tissue provides vital clues about neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease, epilepsy and schizophrenia.

Huntington’s disease is one of the most devastating and tragic neurological diseases. Apart from the effects on the sufferer the disease also impacts on every aspect of family life – there is not only the demand for continuing care and support but also some social isolation associated with a little-understood inherited disorder. There has been little public acknowledgement or support for the needs of the sufferer and caregiver. However both have been extremely supportive of the research undertaken by Professor Faull and his research group. Consequently a close association with the Huntington’s community has been established.

Donated human brain tissue

The bequest of human brain tissue is a very special gift which we treasure and respect, and we view our support of this research as a special partnership with the community.

Tissue from the Human Brain Bank is used by many researchers in the group, resulting in work published in international scientific journals and papers presented at overseas conferences. This work is highly regarded by colleagues working in similar fields. The Human Brain Bank has provided opportunities for valuable international collaborative studies with leading research scientists in England, Switzerland, Sweden, USA and Japan.

The Neurological Foundation is immensely proud of the Human Brain Bank and of the incredible work done by Professor Faull and his team. We also acknowledge the huge generosity of neurological disease sufferers and their families who bequeath their brains to make the research possible. This generosity is reflected in the expansion of the Human Brain Bank which now consists of three minus 80 degree freezers.

The Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Human Brain Bank is run in a disciplined, responsible, and respectful manner, mindful of the circumstances which have led to the tissue being held in the Bank.