Brain researcher Professor Richard Faull 'humbled' by New Year Honour

Advances in medical research aren't achieved by one person alone but by a whole team, says a prominent scientist being made a Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand.

Distinguished Professor Richard Faull has established an international reputation for his groundbreaking research into the normal and diseased human brain, as well as into Huntington's, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease.

He is "humbled and overwhelmed" to be recognised in the New Year Honour list, but says he hasn't achieved the success alone.

"It's really important to realise that the recognition is not just for me, it's actually for the brain researchers across the country and the way we work together as a team, that is absolutely critical."

In 2009 Prof Faull established and was appointed inaugural director of the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) to promote new treatments and facilitate research interactions between brain research groups.

The CBR now comprises 70 research groups with more than 450 researchers and students, 40 clinicians and 23 community organisations.

"You stand on the shoulders of giants and every research breakthrough you have is a result of team activity," Prof Faull says.

"We have 71 different research groups contributing, and so all of the various contributions go to make a new research finding, so I share this with all the research groups."

He says his upbringing in the small Taranaki town of Tikorangi was key to his success.

"Coming from a small place means that you appreciate the important things in life like people.

"Mum and dad installed in us that you look after people, and everyone is important, no matter who they are or what they are."

Prof Faull is Patron of Alzheimer's Auckland, the Auckland Huntington's Disease Association, the Alzheimer's New Zealand Charitable Trust and the Motor Neurone Disease Association of New Zealand.

"The golden rule in life is to be true to yourself, be honest, do your very best, and above all, serve the community."

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