Founding Director of the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) and Distinguished Professor of Anatomy at the University of Auckland, BMedSc, MBChB, PhD, DSc, FRSNZ, KNZM (Ngāti Rahiri and Te Ātiawa)

Sir Richard is New Zealand’s pre-eminent neuroscientist. His work has been widely recognised internationally and his many awards include New Zealand’s highest scientific award, the Royal Society Rutherford Medal. Sir Richard set up the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at the University of Auckland, which supports 84 research groups with over 450 people studying the brain from different perspectives. The Centre also collaborates with over 25 different groups around the world. One his major breakthrough’s was the discovery of stem cells in the human brain, which led to the knowledge that the adult human brain can regrow brain cells.

Sir Richard established a Human Brain Bank, which is acknowledged as a world-class scientific resource for brain research, and is one of the best brain banks in the world because of the high research quality of the tissue and the knowledge of the symptom profile for each donor brain. The donated brain tissue allows researchers to seek insights into a range of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, motor neurone disease, epilepsy and schizophrenia. One of the strengths of the CBR is research that includes close partnerships with clinicians, families and the community. There is a flow of information between the families that donate brains for research and the scientists and doctors, which aids the discovery process. In line with the strong links between science and community, Sir Richard has also initiated the Brain Day, an annual event that invites the community to learn more about neurodegenerative diseases, and provides a range of activities for all ages. Many of the young students who take part in this event have gone on to study neurosciences. Links between the work at CBR and Mātai will help break new ground in brain injury research.