Dr Victor Birger Dieriks

B. Eng, MSc, MBE, MCE, PhD


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease characterised by the presence and accumulation of the aberrant protein alpha-synuclein in a brain region called the substantia nigra. Loss of the dopaminergic neurons in this region leads to the motor symptoms that are often associated with PD such as rigidity and slowness of movement. Although PD is described as a movement disorder, there are many non-motor symptoms associated with the disease that become apparent years to decades before the motor symptoms. One of earliest effects of Parkinson's disease is the loss of smell that occurs in 90-95% of the patients. Understanding these early changes is important as it provides a target for halting the disease in an early stage.

Together with my team, we’re investigating these early changes so we can find ways to delay or stop them before they become a problem. The underlying mechanisms that I focus on are inflammation and transport of toxic alpha synuclein through tunnelling nanotubes. These are small tubes that connect cells and allow for transport without being detected by the immune system.

The lab is uniquely positioned to tap into the resources from both Brain bank and Biobank. Human brains are screened through a range of immunofluorescent staining techniques. This allows us to visualize up to 50 markers in one single section and to clear brains enabling 3D reconstruction. Over the last 10 years we have developed ways to extract different cells from these brains. We routinely grow microglia, astrocytes, pericytes and in some cases neurons each with its own (epi)genetic background and disease history. This unique approach allows to integrate end stage diseased brains with functional analysis on the cells.

I also have an interest in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer, Huntington and Motor neuron Disease due to the overlap in disease mechanisms.

My research is supported by the Neuro Research Charitable Trust, Ian and Sue Parton and the Michael J Fox Foundation.

Research | Current

RNA sequencing of pericyte from healthy and Parkinson diseased brains

Screening for novel Parkinson’s disease specific pathways 

Identifying disease commonalities in olfactory bulbs with Parkinson, Alzheimer, Huntington or Motor Neurons disease

Teaching | Current

MEDSCI744: Project Design in Biomedical Science supervisor

Postgraduate supervision


Taylor Stevenson, PhD student

James Wiseman, PhD student


Completion and previous

Helen Murray, PhD, 2017 Plasticity in the
Human Alzheimer’s Disease Brain 

Kyrah Thumbadoo, Biomed Honours, 2019  

Taylor Stevenson, Biomed Honours, 2017

Blake Highet, Physiology Honours, 2017      

Jan Kraśko, Masters 2011      

Lisa Zhang, Summer Student, 2018/19

Catherine Webb, Summer Student, 2017/18

Blake Highet, Summer Student, 2018           

Taylor Stevenson, Summer Student 2016/17- 2017/18

Eli Shaul, Summer Student, 2016/17

Nicholas Harper, Summer Student, 2013/14

Areas of expertise

Parkinson's disease, neurodegenerative diseases, tunneling nanotubes, olfactory bulb, Huntington's disease

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)


Contact details

Primary office location

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

Web links