BRNZ researchers at the University of Otago gain over $6m in funding for stroke and Parkinson’s research

23 September 2016

Brain Research New Zealand Principal Investigators and researchers at the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy have enjoyed major success with the funding of four projects by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE). Dr Andrew Clarkson and Associate Professor John Reynolds are Principle Investigators in their Smart Ideas project and Research Programme grants respectively. 

Associate Professor John Reynolds

BRNZ_john reynolds

Targeting Drug Delivery within the brain - Building a system for human application - Research Programme - $4,859,256 over four years

“This programme will stimulate a high-profit, technology-based medical device and consumables industry in New Zealand for the treatment of brain disorders. The technology will incorporate a delivery system for brain chemicals together with a controller that will manage timing and dose. Drug delivery will mimic natural release of neurochemicals in the brain, reducing side effects and improving treatment efficacy.


The new technology will enable smart, non-invasive drug delivery that will revolutionise the treatment of disorders with underlying neurochemical imbalances. The team wish to expand their device concept into a drug delivery platform that will first be applied to better treat Parkinson’s disease (PD), preventing, and in theory reversing, current treatment-induced side effects in humans. The technology could also target chemotherapy to brain cancers and arrest epileptic seizures at the site of origin.”

Dr Andrew Clarkson

BRNZ_Andrew Clarkson otago

Engaging the brain to restore stroke function - Smart Ideas Project - $1 million over three years

“Stroke is the leading cause of lasting impairment and can affect anyone at any time. Until recently the brain was thought not to recover following a stroke. However, we have previously shown that if the right treatment is given at the right time following a stroke, significant improvements in motor and cognitive function can be achieved.

This three year Smart Idea project, under the leadership of a stroke biologist at the University of Otago (Dunedin), brings together leading experts in chemistry from the Ferrier Research Institute (Victoria University of Wellington) and KODE Biotech (Auckland University of Technology), and biomaterials experts at the University of Otago (Christchurch).


Their common goal is to develop novel treatments to improve function following brain injury. This research builds on our team's ability to greatly simplify the synthesis of novel compounds capable of targeting any part of the brain extracellular matrix; the glue that holds all brain cells in place, vital to brain health.


The team will use an iterative, smart design approach to develop and test a range of potential drugs to help patients recover from stroke.

Such novel compounds have wide-ranging potential as they have the ability to modulate many biological and physiological processes in the brain. So beyond holding great promise for treatment of stroke, in the future they may aid in improving outcomes for numerous other neurological conditions.”