Dr Emma Scotter

BSc (Hons), PhD (Pharmacology)


Dr. Scotter is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow and head of the Motor Neuron Disease Lab at the Centre for Brain Research, working with Professors Mike Dragunow and Richard Faull. 

Her team researches various aspects of Motor Neuron Disease, using model systems ranging from cell lines and primary cells grown from post-mortem brain and spinal cord, to those tissues themselves. Of particular interest to Dr. Scotter and her group are cells of the blood-brain barrier, and their ability to deal with proteins which take on aberrant structures (oligomers and aggregates). Dr. Scotter studies the pathways by which cells recognise and respond to these aberrantly structured proteins. These include the ubiquitin-proteasome system and selective macroautophagy. Enhancing the ability of these systems to clear toxic proteins which accumulate in neurodegenerative disease has great therapeutic potential. 

Dr. Scotter is a University of Auckland graduate (BSc (Hons) and PhD (Pharmacology)). She was awarded a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship in 2010 to work at King's College London. She remained at King's College for four years, investigating misfolded proteins in motor neuron disease. She returned to the University of Auckland in early 2014.

Dr. Scotter was recently awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to support her vision of growing a national Motor Neuron Disease Research programme. She also received Marsden FastStart funding to investigate protein waste clearance in Motor Neuron Disease.

More information on the Motor Neuron Disease Research lab headed by Dr. Scotter can be found here

Research | Current

  • Screening for novel compounds which promote misfolded protein clearance (collaboration with Professors Mike Dragunow and Margaret Brimble)
  • Characterising primary brain cells grown from the post-mortem brains of patients with motor neuron disease (collaboration with Professor Mike Dragunow)

Teaching | Current

MEDSCI717- Advanced Neuroscience: Neuropharmacology

MEDSCI307- Neuropharmacology

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome enquiries from prospective Honours, Masters and PhD students.

Areas of expertise

Cellular modelling of neurodegeneration

Protein quality control and degradation pathways

Motor Neuron Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Frontotemporal dementia, TDP-43 proteinopathies


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)