Dr Maurice Curtis
Neuroscientist and Senior Lecturer,
Centre for Brain Research,
University of Auckland
Dr Curtis grew up in rural New Zealand before moving to Auckland to study radiography. After completing radiography training he studied for a Masters of Science degree at the University of Auckland focusing on foetal stem cell transplantation for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease. Continuing on from this Dr Curtis completed a PhD in Anatomy and Pharmacology under the guidance of Professor Richard Faull and investigated whether or not the human brain had the capacity to make new brain cells, which is a phenomenon thought not to exist in the brain. The findings from his PhD were groundbreaking since he discovered that in human brains affected by Huntington’s disease there is a massive increase in the amount of new brain cell production - as the brain attempts to repair itself. These studies were published in a number of prominent journals and set the scene for much of the work that followed.
In addition to receiving the University of Auckland’s Best Thesis Award, Dr Curtis was also awarded the Neurological Foundation Philip Wrightson Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on stem cells in the brain at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden with Professor Peter Eriksson. During his work in Sweden, Dr Curtis, together with colleagues in New Zealand including Professor Faull, discovered a long distance migratory pathway that stem cells in the brain migrate through. This has been a discovery of much interest and was reported around the world and published in the prestigious Science journal.
Dr Curtis maintains close ties with the researchers in Sweden and other parts of Europe. He is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy with Radiology at Auckland University where he continues to research brain stem cells, stem cell migration, neurodegenerative diseases and neurorehabilitation. Dr Curtis has recently been awarded the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences prize for early career excellence in teaching.