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Drugs and how they can enhance recovery, a focus for new lecturer

Monday, 4 April 2016

Ailsa McGregor_232
Senior Lecturer at New Zealand's National School of Pharmacy, Alisa McGregor.

New senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy, Ailsa McGregor, is looking forward to continuing her successful research and teaching career in the south.

In a similar role at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research and School of Pharmacy, Dr McGregor has devoted the past three years to investigating whether the use of nicotinic agonists, like varenicline, can help improve the cognitive and psychiatric symptoms suffered by patients with Huntington’s disease.

While the clinical trial in patients with Huntington’s disease continues in Auckland, she hopes to begin a similar project looking at whether those drugs can also enhance recovery following stroke.

Research on stroke recovery is still experimental and not as well developed as the work that has been carried out on Huntington’s disease, she says. “I hope to build up a network of researchers and get that buy-in from the clinicians in the hospital to support the transition of our ideas through the lab to the clinic.”

Dr McGregor spent several years working in the pharmaceutical industry, prior to moving into academia.

In her previous roles as a research scientist with Novartis Pharma AG in Switzerland and as a senior research fellow at the Fujisawa Institute of Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh, she established and managed several key research projects focused on central nervous system disorders such as stroke and vascular dementia.

In 2004 she moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi-born husband, Bruce Russell, to take up a position as research fellow at the University of Auckland’s department of pharmacology.

Six years later she was appointed a senior lecturer in pharmacotherapy and principal investigator for the Centre for Brain Research, establishing her own research group and investigating neurodegenerative diseases, neuroprotection and regeneration.

Dr McGregor says it has been a positive move for her and her family shifting to Dunedin.“We have made a great move in terms of family life and work life – everyone just seems really keen to talk about ideas and potential projects.” Dr Russell has also taken up a role at the school as associate professor in clinical pharmacy.

Article written by Liane Topham-Kindly for Pharmacy Today, April 2016.