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Contact Details

+64 3 479 4960
Department of Anatomy
BPhEd MSc PhD(Otago)
Research summary
Brain changes associated with Parkinson's disease and chronic pain


  • ANAT335 Neurobiology
  • NEUR452 Neurodegenerative disorders


  • HUBS191 (musculoskeletal)
  • ANAT241 (musculoskeletal)
  • ELM2 (musculoskeletal)
  • Director Māori, Ageing Well National Science Challenge
  • Māori Advisory Board for Brain Research New Zealand – Roro Rangahau Aotearoa Centre of Research Excellence
  • Secretary of the International Basal Ganglia Society Council


Professor Parr-Brownlie has internationally recognised expertise in understanding how activity in the motor thalamus, motor cortex and basal ganglia control normal movements and is altered in Parkinson's disease. Her team use a combination of optogenetic stimulation, electrophysiological recordings, electron and confocal microscopy to investigate brain function and structure. They have applied optogenetic stimulation to determine if there are better places and ways to stimulate the brain to improve movements in models of Parkinson's disease.

She has been an invited speaker at prestigious conferences in the United States, such as Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia) and Gordon Research Conferences. Professor Parr-Brownlie has extended her research programme to (1) examine anatomical and physiological changes in the brain associated with chronic pain and (2) investigate Māori community perspectives of neurosurgical approaches to treat neurological disorders and traumatic brain injury.

Current staff in the laboratory are Dr Elodie Kip (ARF), Conor Underwood (PRF) and Mariana Te Pou (ARF). Current postgraduate students are Alexander Woolrych (PhD) and Lily Bentall (Hons).

Parr-Brownlie lab team photo

Additional details

Dr Parr-Brownlie is Ngāti Maniapoto and Te Arawa.

Current funding includes Health Research Council of New Zealand, Brain Research New Zealand, and Marsden Fund. Other previous funding includes Neurological Foundation of New Zealand.

Lab staff alumni are:

  • Dr Clementine Bosch-Bouju, postdoctoral fellow
  • Dr Lisa Smith, postdoctoral fellow
  • Dr Rachel Sizemore, postdoctoral fellow
  • Dr Sonja Seeger-Armbruster, postdoctoral fellow
  • Julia Prier, ARF
  • Roseanna Smither, ARF
  • Stella Cameron, ARF
  • Niamh Cameron, ARF

Lab postgraduate alumni are:

  • Dr Sophie Barnett (PhD)
  • Dr Ashik Banstola (PhD)
  • Dr Stella Cameron (PhD)
  • Nikki Guy (MMedSc)
  • James Miller (MSc and Hons)
  • Shane Little (MSc and PGDipSc)
  • Abby Johnson (Hons)
  • Niamh Cameron (PGDipSc)


Parr-Brownlie, L. (2023, November-December). Weaving equity and innovation into Parkinson's research. Plenary presentation at the 10th Asia Pacific International Congress of Anatomists (APICA) and the 20th Australian & New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists (ANZACA) Conference: Reconnect, Ka Mua, Ka Muri, Dunedin, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Kukutai, T., Parr-Brownlie, L., & Pitama, S. (2023). A bridge between: Te Ao Māori and Te Ara Paerangi. New Zealand Science Review, 78(1-2). doi: 10.26686/ Journal - Research Article

Parr-Brownlie, L. (2023, March). Weaving equity and innovation into Parkinson’s research. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Inaugural Professorial Lecture]. Other Research Output

Seo, S., Parr-Brownlie, L., Bilkey, D., Hughes, S., & Oorschot, D. (2023, June). Opposite changes in midbrain dopamine microcircuitry in the repeated hypoxic rat model of ADHD-like hyperactivity/impulsivity versus the maternal immune activation rat model of schizophrenia: Potential bases for new therapies. Poster session presented at the International Basal Ganglia Society (IBAGS) XIV Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden. Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

Bentall, L., & Parr-Brownlie, L. (2023, June). Changes in SNpr activity underlying dyskinesia in PD model rats. Poster session presented at the International Basal Ganglia Society (IBAGS) XIV Meeting, Stockholm, Sweden. Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

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