Our Directorate


Distinguished Professor Richard Faull



Neurodegenerative diseases of the human brain

Professor Richard LM Faull has directed and developed the Centre for Brain Research since its inception in 2009. He has built one of the world’s pre-eminent neuroscience research centres.

He has had extensive leadership and management experience at the University of Auckland. Working as the Head of Department of Anatomy with Radiology between 1988-2000; as Council Member 2001-2009 and numerous senior academic committees.

During his 37 years at the University he has established an international reputation for his research studies on the normal and diseased human brain (Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy) and has established a Human Brain Bank with the generous support of families to promote worldwide research on human brain diseases. His research group and international collaborators are developing innovative approaches to treat Huntington’s disease using a transgenic sheep model of the disease.

His contributions to research on the human brain have been recognized by appointments as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (1998) and an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (2005). He was awarded: the Liley Medal by the Health Research Council of New Zealand in 2005; New Zealand’s highest scientific award, the Rutherford Medal, in 2007 by the Royal Society of New Zealand for outstanding contributions in science; and, received the Supreme Award in the 2010 World Class New Zealand Awards. He was appointed Distinguished Professor at the University of Auckland in 2012, the 2013 Sir Paul Reeves Lecturer and awarded a 2016 Hood Fellowship.  

Professor Faull has made major leadership contributions to international neuroscience societies and scientific advisory organisations. He has attracted and managed external research funding of over $30 million and been continuously funded by the MRC/HRC for 44 years. He has attracted philanthropic funding of over $14 million and established the internationally recognised NZ Neurological Foundation Human Brain Bank. As a patron and sponsor he has had major involvement in a wide range of community organisations associated with supporting patients with neurological disorders.





Professor Wickliffe Abraham



Synaptic plasticity, metaplasticity and the neural mechanisms of memory and Alzheimer’s disease.


Professor Wickliffe Abraham was the founding Director of the other of New Zealand’s two pre-eminent neuroscience clusters in New Zealand: the Brain Health Research Centre at the University of Otago. Professor Abraham has been continuously funded by the MRC/HRC for 30 years. During this time he has served as Director of HRC Programme grants for 16 years (1994-2004, 2010-2015); spanning seven departments and two academic Divisions. 


Professor Abraham has attracted and managed research grants totalling more than $24 million, including multiple HRC and Marsden grants, a Human Frontiers grant and a subcontract to an NIH Javits award. He has extensive leadership experience, having served as the Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Otago (2003-2005), and as a founding member (since 1983) and then Chair for 11 years of the Australasian Winter Conference on Brain Research, New Zealand’s national brain research conference. 


In addition to his duties as BRNZ’s Co-Director, he teaches at the University of Otago and is a Principal Investigator with many decades of expertise in the areas of the neural mechanisms of learning, nervous system plasticity, metaplasticity (for which he coined the term and is a pioneer) and the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease.  



Professor Alan Barber

Directorate: Clinical engagement


Neurology with special interest in stroke.

Professor Alan Barber is a Clinical Neurologist and the Director of the Stroke Unit at Auckland City Hospital.

Prof Barber is also the Deputy Director of the Centre for Brain Research, with responsibility for clinical relationships, the Director of the Stroke Research Clinic and heads the Neurology Research Group.

He is a named investigator on grants totalling $13M in the last 6 years and, in 2014, completed terms as Secretary of the Australia and New Zealand Association of Neurologists and Chair of the Neurology Specialty Training Committee, which oversees the training of all Australasian adult and paediatric neurologists. 

Prof Barber is a Committee member on numerous New Zealand and Australian committees involved in training and the disciplines of neurology and stroke medicine.

He has been pivotal to community engagement in his roles as the inaugural Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Professor of Clinical Neurology and Honorary Medical Advisor to the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand.



Associate Professor Lynette Tippett

Directorate: Dementia Prevention Research Clinic 

MSc (1st), DipClinPsych, PhD

The clinical and neuropsychological effects of neurological disorders  

Associate Professor Lynette Tippett is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Auckland since 2012. A major focus of her research programme involves clinical and neuropsychological investigations of individuals with neurological disorders, particularly neurodegenerative diseases (Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Motor Neuron Disease and Parkinson’s Disease).

Central to the success of this research are strong multi-disciplinary research teams, linking bench-top neuroscience with clinical science and patients.

In recent years, A Prof Lynette Tippett has been pivotal to the establishment of New Zealand’s first Dementia Prevention Research Clinic located in Auckland. She is the Director of what will become a nation-wide network of clinics and is also the co-director of Auckland clinic along with geriatrician Dr Phil Wood. Following the opening of the first clinic is Auckland, two other clinics are planned for Dunedin and Christchurch.  

The establishment of a Dementia Prevention Research Clinics in association with the Centre for Brain Research and Brain Research New Zealand greatly enhances research into Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias in New Zealand.  


Associate Professor John Reynolds 

Directorate: Leadership development and capability building


The role of neuromodulation and synaptic plasticity mechanisms in brain areas affected by Parkinson’s disease and stroke

John Reynolds is an Associate Professor in Neuroscience in the Department of Anatomy at University of Otago in New Zealand. His research team studies the application of neuroplasticity approaches to Parkinson’s disease and stroke. His interest is in applying the principles of neuromodulation to modify synaptic plasticity and recover function in affected brain areas. John graduated in Medicine in 1994, and then returned to University of Otago after a few years in practice to undertake PhD studies. 

He has received an international Brain Research Young Investigator Award and a National Tertiary Teaching Award, and he currently holds a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society of NZ. He served 5 years as chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Neurological Foundation of NZ and is a member of the Directorate for BRNZ.


Professor Peter Thorne

Directorate: Strategic development 

BSc, DipSci, PhD; CNZM

Diseases of the inner ear and the effects of noise and consequences of aging on the auditory system.

Professor Peter Thorne has a joint appointment in the Section of Audiology and Department of Physiology at the University of Auckland.  He is a Deputy Director of the University’s Centre for Brain Research and is on the Management Directorate of Brain Research New Zealand, a national Centre of Research Excellence.  He completed his PhD at the University of Auckland and post-doctoral studies at the University of Auckland and at the Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan.  His research is in the area of sensory neurobiology particularly inner ear homeostasis and the influence of noise exposure and aging on hearing.  He is the Chairman of the National Foundation for the Deaf and is on the Board of the Deafness Research Foundation. In 2009, he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to audiology and auditory neuroscience.



Dr Hinemoa Elder 

Directorate: Māori Strategy Leader (Kaiwhakahaere Māori)


From  Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi, Dr Hinemoa Elder is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland and Professorial Fellow of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi. She currently holds an Health Research Council of NZ  Eru Pomare Post Doctoral Fellowship implementing her theoretical work in developing a Māori needs assessment tool and approaches to working with whānau experiencing traumatic brain injury. She has many years of experience in the areas of child and adolescent psychiatry, indigenous issues pertaining to mental health and rehabilitation, neuropsychiatry and youth forensic psychiatry.  She is an internationally recognised researcher and author.

Dr Elder has also served on Ministry of Health committees tackling issues of Conduct Disorder and suicide prevention. Dr Elder was a member of the expert advisory group of Blueprint II, which articulated the framework for New Zealand Mental Health service funding for the next 10 years.

She is a deputy psychiatrist member of the NZ Mental Health Review Tribunal and on the list of Specialist Assessors/Medical Consultants for assessment under the Intellectual Disability Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation Act 2003.

She is an invited Research Associate of the Person Centred Research Centre and at the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences at AUT. She is one of the few child and adolescent psychiatrists with experience in working with whanau in the context of traumatic brain injury. This includes questioning in what ways western approaches to research and practice work for Māori and methods are needed to investigate issues that have salience for Māori people.