Dr Emma Scotter
BSc (Hons), PhD (Pharmacology)
I am the head of the Motor Neuron Disease Lab at the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland.
My team, in collaboration with Professors Mike Dragunow and Richard Faull, researches various aspects of Motor Neuron Disease. Model systems range from cell lines and primary cells grown from post-mortem brain and spinal cord, to those tissues themselves. Of particular interest to me and my group are cells of the blood-brain barrier, and their ability to deal with proteins which take on aberrant structures (oligomers and aggregates). My lab uses molecular pharmacology and molecular biology techniques to study the pathways by which cells recognise and respond to these aberrantly structured proteins. These include the ubiquitin-proteasome system and selective macroautophagy. Pharmacologically or genetically enhancing the ability of these systems to clear toxic proteins which accumulate in neurodegenerative disease has great therapeutic potential.
I am a University of Auckland graduate (BSc (Hons) and PhD (Pharmacology)). I was awarded a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship in 2010 to work at King's College London. I remained at King's College for four years, investigating misfolded proteins in motor neuron disease. I returned to the University of Auckland in early 2014 after being awarded an Aotearoa Fellowship by the Centre for Brain Research.
I was recently awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to support my vision of growing a national Motor Neuron Disease Research programme. I also received Marsden FastStart funding to investigate protein waste clearance in Motor Neuron Disease. My team and I recently established the NZ Motor Neuron Disease Research Network with funding from MND NZ.
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)
- Genetic screening of people living with motor neuron disease (collaboration with Dr. Richard Roxburgh)
Teaching | Current
Current lab members
- Dr. Deidre Macveigh, Postdoctoral Fellow (with Prof. Mike Dragunow)
- Ms Christa MacDonald, Research technician
- Mr Jules Devaux, Research technician
- Ms Charlotte Dunne, PhD student
- Ms Serey Naidoo, PhD student
- Ms Maize Cao, PhD student
- Ms Kyrah Thumbadoo, Pharmacology Honours student
Completions and previous
- Ms Laura Nementzik, Summer student, 2018
- Mr Ji Hun Yoo, Summer student, 2018
- Mr Ben Zhang, Undergraduate research experience, 2018
- Ms Sediqa Amin, BBMedSci Honours student, 2018
- Mr Andrew Siemens, Research technician, 2016-2018
- Ms Maize Cao, Summer student and Science Scholar, 2017
- Ms Sarah Waters, BBMedSci Honours student, 2017
- Ms Kylie Pan, Summer student, 2017
- Mr James Bailey, King's College London medical elective student, 2015
I welcome enquiries from prospective Honours, Masters and PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.
Scotter Lab in the press
- TV3's The Project 2018 on high MND rates in New Zealand
- NZ Herald 2018 "Study reveals shocking death rates for Kiwis with motor neurone disease"
- MND News Spring 2017 "Announcing the MND Research Network" page 3
- MND News Spring 2016 "Research Update" page 5
- NZ Herald 2016 "Research drives demand for donated tissue at Auckland brain bank"
- Te Waha Nui (AUT) 2016 "Walking for those who can't"
- Australasian Neuroscience Society 2015 Interview
- Scoop 2015 "Rutherford Discovery to fund Motor Neurone Disease Research"
- MND News Spring 2014 "Welcome home Dr. Scotter" page 5
- Director, NZ MND Research Network
- Chair, Rare Genetic Brain Diseases satellite conference at Queenstown Research Week and AWCBR 2018
- Steering Commitee Member, NZ MND Patient Registry
- Theme Leadership Group, Brain Research New Zealand Theme 1: Neurodiscovery (Genes, Cells, Networks)
Areas of expertise
- Cellular modelling of neurodegeneration
- Protein quality control and degradation pathways
- Motor Neuron Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; ALS)
- Frontotemporal dementia
- TDP-43 proteinopathies
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Smyth, L. C. D., Rustenhoven, J., Scotter, E. L., Schweder, P., Faull, R. L. M., Park, T. I. H., & Dragunow, M. (2018). Markers for human brain pericytes and smooth muscle cells. Journal of chemical neuroanatomy, 92, 48-60. 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2018.06.001
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Dragunow, Richard Faull, Thomas Park
- Rustenhoven, J., Smith, A. M., Smyth, L. C., Jansson, D., Scotter, E. L., Swanson, M. E. V., ... Handley, R. (2018). PU.1 regulates Alzheimer's disease-associated genes in primary human microglia. Molecular neurodegeneration, 13 (1)10.1186/s13024-018-0277-1
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Dragunow, Pritika Narayan, Maurice Curtis, Richard Faull, Thomas Park, Deidre Jansson, Molly Swanson
- Cao, M. C., Chancellor, A., Charleston, A., Dragunow, M., & Scotter, E. L. (2018). Motor neuron disease mortality rates in New Zealand 1992-2013. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis & frontotemporal degeneration, 19 (3-4), 285-293. 10.1080/21678421.2018.1432660
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Michael Dragunow, Maize Cao
- Rustenhoven, J., Smyth, L. C., Jansson, D., Schweder, P., Aalderink, M., Scotter, E. L., ... Dragunow, M. (2018). Modelling physiological and pathological conditions to study pericyte biology in brain function and dysfunction. BMC neuroscience, 19 (1)10.1186/s12868-018-0405-4
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Richard Faull, Michael Dragunow, Thomas Park, Deidre Jansson
- Smith, B. N., Topp, S. D., Fallini, C., Shibata, H., Chen, H.-J., Troakes, C., ... Soragia-Gkazi, A. (2017). Mutations in the vesicular trafficking protein annexin A11 are associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Science Translational Medicine, 9 (388)10.1126/scitranslmed.aad9157
- Scotter, E. L., Smyth, L., Bailey, J. A. W., Wong, C.-H., de Majo, M., Vance, C. A., ... Charleston, A. (2017). C9ORF72 and UBQLN2 mutations are causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in New Zealand: a genetic and pathologic study using banked human brain tissue. Neurobiology of Aging, 49, 214.e1-214.e5. 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2016.06.019
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Maurice Curtis, Richard Faull, Michael Dragunow, Henry Waldvogel
- Jansson, D., Scotter, E., Rustenhoven, J., Coppieters, N., Smyth, L., Oldfield, R., ... Faull, R. (2016). Interferon-γ blocks signalling through PDGFRβ in human brain pericytes. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 13 (24).10.1186/s12974-016-0722-4
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Richard Faull, Michael Dragunow, Scott Graham, Deidre Jansson
- Chen, H.-J., Mitchell, J. C., Novoselov, S., Miller, J., Nishimura, A. L., Scotter, E. L., ... Shaw, C. E. (2016). The heat shock response plays an important role in TDP-43 clearance: Evidence for dysfunction in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Brain, 139 (5), 1417-1432. 10.1093/brain/aww028