Dr Victor Birger Dieriks

B. Eng, MSc, MBE, MCE, PhD


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the fastest-growing chronic neurological disorder affecting 10 million people worldwide. Current therapies are symptomatic and do nothing to stop disease progression. We know that alpha-synuclein (α-syn) aggregate formation plays a crucial role in toxicity and progressive neurodegeneration. Still, it does not explain the variability in cell types affected and symptoms observed in PD patients. The recent identification of fibrillar α-syn aggregates with noticeable differences in structural and phenotypic traits led to the hypothesis that different α-syn 3D conformations or ‘strains’ may be in part responsible for the heterogeneous nature of PD. By exposing cells to different α-syn strains, we aim to identify the gene changes and evaluate the role of those genes as potential therapeutic targets for Parkinson’s disease. Ultimately the goal is to reduce the burden of a-syn in the brain.

Together with my team, we’re investigating these early changes in human brain tissue and primary brain cells so we can find ways to delay or stop them before they become a problem. 


I lead the Alpha Synuclein lab, which 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 50 markers in one single section and 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 integrating end-stage diseased brains with functional analysis of the cells.

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

My research is supported by the HRC Hercus, Neurological Foundation, 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 

olfactory bulb and smell

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


Teaching | Current

MEDSCI 300: Analytical Anatomy and Visualisation

MEDSCI 744: Project Design in Biomedical Science supervisor

Postgraduate supervision


Kreesan Reddy, BBiomedSc(Hons), start 2021

Ethan Chen,BBiomedSc(Hons), start 2021

Taylor Stevenson, PhD student, start 2018

James Wiseman, PhD student, start 2020


Completion and previous

Helen Murray, PhD, 2017  

Kyrah Thumbadoo, BBiomedSc(Hons), 2019  

Taylor Stevenson, BBiomedSc(Hons), 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


2020 Neurological Foundation project grant

2020 Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship 

2019  Michael  J Fox Foundation international award; Co-Primary investigator

2018 & 2019  Ian and Sue Parton Parkinson’s Disease Fellowship


Independent chair Doctoral examination committee

University of Auckland Biological Safety Committee


Areas of expertise

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

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.


Contact details

Primary office location

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

Web links