It is with great pleasure that the Trustees introduce Dr Andrea Kwakowsky  the recipient of the inaugural Alzheimers New Zealand Charitable Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship – 2020/2021.

Dr. Andrea Kwakowsky is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Brain Research, University of Auckland. Her research aims to understand the underlying pathology of Alzheimers disease and to determine whether manipulation of specific neuronal pathways could be part of an effective treatment.

Optogenetics (light stimulation) is one of the most exciting, “state of the art”  recent new techniques in brain research; it uses light to turn specific neurons on and off. This powerful and novel technique enables Dr. Kwakowsky to modulate and correct abnormal neuronal activity in Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimers New Zealand Charitable Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship will help further research around Alzheimer's disease using this exciting “cutting edge” technology of optogenetics. During the first few months of the fellowship, Dr. Kwakowsky’s team has established an optogenetic stimulation paradigm that can restore cognitive deficits in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model. The focus of the future work will be on the examination of the underlying mechanisms of the beneficial behavioural outcomes of the optogenetic stimulation and refine the stimulation protocol to achieve the maximum possible therapeutic benefit.

The support provided by the Alzheimers New Zealand Charitable Trust will make a significant contribution to Dr. Kwakowsky’s overarching aims of finding treatments and providing support to people with Alzheimer’s disease.