Neuroscientist wins of innovation award

Neuroscientist Richard Faull, a world-leading expert on brain diseases, has been named the Supreme Winner of the 2010 World Class New Zealand Awards.

The annual awards, presented at a ceremony in Auckland tonight, celebrate New Zealand innovators and entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions to the country's growth and development.

Professor Faull, an Auckland University researcher, has spent 35 years researching neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

His research was the first to find evidence that diseased human brains could repair themselves by generating new brain cells.

Prof Faull is director of the Centre for Brain Research and founder of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand Human Brain Bank, which provides tissue samples for brain research programmes.

This year's event was the first time a Friend of New Zealand award was presented, to New York-based investor and philanthropist Julian Robertson.

Winners in the seven other categories were Orion Health founder Ian McCrae, engineer Sir Ron Carter, neuroscientist Dr Kerry Spackman, Amira Pharmaceuticals founder Dr Jilly Evans, Gallagher Group director Bill Gallagher, Digital Library Research Group head Professor Ian Witten, and the New York-based president of Time Warner Global Media Group, Mark D'Arcy.

The awards were presented by Kea New Zealand, a group cofounded by Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

"It's important we recognise and celebrate successful New Zealanders," Sir Stephen said.

"It's exciting to see the awards continuing to grow and we've only just touched on the number of talented New Zealanders out there."

Kea seeks to connect New Zealand with the rest of the world by building a network of expatriates and supporters who take an active interest in the future of the country.