Maurice Curtis grew up in rural New Zealand before moving to Auckland to study radiography. Continuing on from this Maurice completed a PhD in Anatomy and Pharmacology under the guidance of Prof. Richard Faull and investigated whether the human brain had the capacity to make new brain cells, which is a phenomenon thought not to exist in the brain. The findings from his PhD demonstrated that in human brains affected by Huntington’s disease there is a massive increase in the amount of new brain cell production – as the brain attempts to repair itself. These studies were published in a number of prominent journals and set the scene for much of the work that followed.
In addition to receiving the University of Auckland’s Best Thesis Award, Maurice was also awarded a Wrightson post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand to work on stem cells in the brain at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden with Prof. Peter Eriksson. During his work in Sweden, Maurice, together with colleagues in New Zealand, discovered a long distance migratory pathway that stem cells in the brain migrate through. This has been a discovery of much interest and was reported around the world and published in the prestigious ‘Science’ journal. This discovery also earned him the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Hamilton prize in 2008.
Maurice is currently employed as an Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy with Radiology at Auckland University where he is the deputy director of the human brain bank. He is a very active teacher and researcher focussed on brain stem cells, stem cell migration, neurodegenerative diseases and neurorehabilitation at the recently formed Centre for Brain research at the University of Auckland.