Professor Bronwen Jane Connor

BsC, PhD

Biography

Bronwen Connor is a professor in Pharmacology and head of the Neural Reprogramming and Repair Lab at the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland. Her specific interest is in the development of novel protective or regenerative strategies to treat neurological disease.

Bronwen is a graduate of the University of Auckland, graduating with a BSc in Pharmacology and Physiology in 1994 and a PhD in Neuropharmacology in 1997. She spent 3 years as a post-doctoral fellow at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA. There she undertook ground-breaking research demonstrating the potential use of gene therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Bronwen returned to an academic position at the University of Auckland, Department of Pharmacology in 2000. She has worked on a number of strategies for the treatment of neurological disorders including gene therapy for Huntington’s disease, the development of stem cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, and the identification of novel agents for the treatment of depression. She has also investigated the use of the anti-psychotic agent clozapine for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Bronwen’s current research focuses on “reprogramming” human skin cells to human brain stem cells which allows her to generate and study live human brain cells, something researchers have previously been unable to do. This allows her research team to investigate the cause and progression of neurodevelopmental and neurological disorders by reprogramming skin cells from patients with these disorders. This cutting-edge technology will enable her team to identify and test new drugs as well as use a patient’s own reprogrammed brain cells for cell replacement therapy. 

In 2018 Bronwen was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to the treatment of neurological disease.

Teaching | Current

MEDSCI 305: Systems Pharmacology

MEDSCI 717: Advanced Neuroscience; Neuropharmacology

MEDSCi 740: Stem cell biology and transgenics

Postgraduate supervision

PhD students supervised:

Nicole Edwards 

Amy McCaughey-Chapman  2018

Rebecca Playne 2017

Amelia van Slooten 2014

Kathryn Jones 2012

Jane Evans 2012

Renee Gordon 2009

Elena Vazey 2009

Andrew Tatterfield 2009

Adrian Kells 2007

Rebecca Henry 2007

Kevin Chen 2007

 

Distinctions/Honours

2018 Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for contribution to the treatment of neurological disease. 

2013 NEXT magazine New Zealand Woman of the Year; Health and Science

Areas of expertise

Neuropharmacology

Neural stem cells

Gene therapy

Direct cell reprogramming

Parkinson's disease

Huntington's disease

Depression

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Robichon, K., Patel, V., Connor, B., & La Flamme, A. C. (2020). Clozapine reduces infiltration into the CNS by targeting migration in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Journal of neuroinflammation, 17 (1)10.1186/s12974-020-01733-4
  • Templeton, N., Kivell, B., McCaughey-Chapman, A., Connor, B., & La Flamme, A. C. (2019). Clozapine administration enhanced functional recovery after cuprizone demyelination. PloS one, 14 (5)10.1371/journal.pone.0216113
  • Connor, B., Firmin, E., McCaughey-Chapman, A., Monk, R., Lee, K., Liot, S., ... Jones, K. (2018). Conversion of adult human fibroblasts into neural precursor cells using chemically modified mRNA. HELIYON, 4 (11)10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00918
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46148
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kevin Lee, Kathryn Jones
  • Connor, B. (2018). Concise review: The use of stem cells for understanding and treating Huntington's disease. Stem Cells, 36 (2), 146-160. 10.1002/stem.2747
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44620
  • Playne, R., Jones, K. S., & Connor, B. (2018). Generation of dopamine neuronal-like cells from induced neural precursors derived from adult human cells by non-viral expression of lineage factors. Journal of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, 14 (1), P34-P44. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/50323
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kathryn Jones
  • Boix, J., von Hieber, D., & Connor, B. (2018). Gait Analysis for Early Detection of Motor Symptoms in the 6-OHDA Rat Model of Parkinson's Disease. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 1210.3389/fnbeh.2018.00039
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42296
  • Playne, R., & Connor, B. (2017). Understanding Parkinson's disease through the use of cell reprogramming. Stem Cell Reviews and Reports, 13 (2), 151-169. 10.1007/s12015-017-9717-5
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/41415
  • Zareie, P., Connor, B., & La Flamme, A. C. (2017). Amelioration of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis by clozapine is not associated with defective CD4 T cell responses. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 14 (1).10.1186/s12974-017-0842-5
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/42153

Identifiers

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 502 - Bldg 502
Level 5, Room 501D
85 PARK RD
GRAFTON
AUCKLAND 1023
New Zealand

Web links