Neurological Foundation - Chair of Neurosurgery

Research Scientist advocates Neurological Foundation Chair

January 2012

A South Otago-born research scientist working with cloned sheep is following the developments of the Neurological Foundation chair campaign from his Auckland University lab.

Dr Russell Snell – whose father, Rodney Snell, was the first principal at Telford Farm Training Institute near Balclutha – said the promise of a chair to complete the neurological unit in Dunedin would benefit the southern district for its research potential as well as for its surgical capabilities.

A graduate of Otago University, Dr Russell became one of the first researchers to discover the gene that causes Huntington's Disease during his graduate work at the University of Wales college of medicine in Cardiff in 1993.

Since then, his work in mainly neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's has aimed to create models to better understand how the genes behind the illnesses are inherited.

The work has been possible because of access to tissue from the New Zealand Neurological Foundation's human brain bank in Auckland – and the addition of a flock of sheep to the research project. The sheep have had the human Huntington's Disease gene injected into their embryos.

The point of the project was to study the traces of the beginning of the disease.