Visits to the NZ Brain Research Institute and BrainTree Wellness Centre in Christchurch

February 17, 2023

On February 10, our CEO Daniel was able to visit Professor Tim Anderson at the New Zealand Brain Research Institute, as well as the BrainTree Wellness Centre, a fabulous purpose-built community resource benefitting people living with neurological conditions.

The New Zealand Brain Research Institute started life as the Van der Veer Institute for Parkinson’s and Brain Research, being named after a Christchurch businessman and Parkinson’s sufferer whose bequest enabled the institute’s creation. It was later renamed in 2011.The NZBRI has a large and active Parkinson’s disease research group led by neurologist Professor Tim Anderson and neuropsychologist Professor John Dalrymple-Alford. The group works closely with ~320 local people with Parkinson’s disease to better understand the progression of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease and to establish which factors can help predict its emergence.This meeting was a great opportunity for Daniel and Professor Anderson to discuss the state of Parkinson’s research globally, and locally, as well as the potential to collaborate on clinical trials in the future. We are very grateful to Professor Anderson for making the time.

Later the same day, Daniel popped by The BrainTree Wellness Centre, a purpose-built facility in Christchurch focused on delivering a total wellness approach to people living in the community with neurological conditions. With seminar rooms, a gym and studio and social areas/café, this centre, which opened in July 2022, is a fabulous community resource that benefits not only local people with Parkinson’s disease, but also those suffering from multiple sclerosis and dementia. Proceeds from the café go back into supporting the centre’s operation.Daniel was visiting on a day when a former colleague, Dr Christina Buchanan, genetic counsellor and neurogeneticist (ADHB) was giving a talk on her recent research findings of a novel PINK1 gene mutation linked to early-onset Parkinson’s in Polynesian populations. It was humbling and inspiring to sit in a seminar room with almost fifty Parkinson’s sufferers and their partners as they listened closely to Christina, shared details of their own lived experience of research, and asked some fantastic questions.We would like to congratulate Christina on her fascinating work, which was published in the journal Movement Disorders in 2021`, and to thank Ty Scott, Engagement Co-ordinator for Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Canterbury, for the tour of the centre.

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