Dr Molly Elizabeth Victoria Swanson

BSc(Hons), PhD (Anatomy)

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Research Fellow


I am a post-doctoral research fellow in the Motor Neuron Disease (MND) lab at the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland.

My research focuses on understanding how the immune cells of the brain, called microglia, change in neurodegenerative diseases. Microglia normally function to help the brain heal from damage and/or disease. There is increasing evidence that microglia become dysfunctional in neurodegenerative diseases, which can be toxic to neurons thereby contributing to disease. Because of their potential to both help and harm the brain throughout disease, understanding how they change in disease is key to developing potential therapies.

My current project investigates how microglia are altered in MND. I utilise post-mortem human brain tissue to identify microglia and develop novel automated analysis pipelines to quantify microglial changes and relate these changes to anatomy and pathological hallmarks. Such research will contribute to our understanding of how microglia contribute to MND at different stages of disease.

Postgraduate supervision


Ms Laura Nementzik, Biomedical Science Honours student (Co-supervisor)

I welcome enquiries from prospective Honours and Masters students.

Areas of expertise

  • Microglia in post-mortem human brain tissue
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Novel automated image analysis pipelines
  • Neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s disease and Motor Neuron Disease) 

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 501 - Bldg 501
Level 5, Room 503
New Zealand

Web links