Heading home to talk Huntington's Disease
18 October 2019
Sir Richard Faull, Director of the Centre for Brain Research, headed back to Taranaki to talk about Huntington's Disease.
Forty years ago, as a lifelong student of medicine, Richard Faull was just stepping out into the world and completing the last year of his postdoctoral Harkness Fellowship research studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research studies were so exciting and since he needed more time to complete his projects, Sir Richard (then just plain old Dr Richard Faull) wrote home to his parents of his quest to stay longer and the need for more funds.
At this time, Sir Richard wasn’t yet aware of just how deep his Māori roots were in the Waitara region, but of course, Mum and Dad were well known and well aware. News came back to Richard that he had been gifted a $1000 grant from the Taranaki Māori Trust Board.
"I was very humbled by this wonderful and generous support," said Sir Richard.
"I resolved to ensure that on my return I would seek opportunities to show my appreciation by helping the people of Taranaki and Te Atiawa who are touched by brain disease."
I resolved to ensure that on my return I would seek opportunities to show my appreciation by helping the people of Taranaki and Te Atiawa who are touched by brain disease.
Over the weekend, on a visit home to the Owae Marae it was declared that this $1000 was a great investment. Sir Richard takes every opportunity to share all knowledge and learning from the Centre for Brain Research with those who matter most, the people affected by brain disease.
One such community is his own Te Atiawa Iwi in Taranaki who generously supported him all those years ago. Through the years, Sir Richard regularly returns to Taranaki and has been learning more about his whakapapa and re-engaging with his extended Taranaki whanau, where he is most at home. He travels back regularly to meet, share and repay the generosity they extended nearly 50years ago.
Through his connections at the marae he has met with a number of whanau who have Huntington’s Disease in their genes. This particular trip home to Taranaki Sir Richard was accompanied by Dr Waiora Port (Co-chair of BRNZ Māori Advisory Board; Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa) and Jo Dysart, Manager of Huntington’s Auckland for a hui to share the latest research and news of an international trial underway that aims to inhibit the progression of symptoms in Huntington's Disease patients.
Scientists working together with whānau can create the most marvellous contributions to life, which is the most important thing in the world.
“This is an exciting development. For the first time we are able to offer some real hope to people and whanau who are touched by Huntington’s Disease. The trial has a long way to go but it is an exciting opportunity to give hope for the very first time.”
Sir Richard is cautiously optimistic about the current trial and pleased that Aotearoa New Zealand is participating in this international trial.
“You should look after yourself. Science is helping enormously with Huntington’s disease. Scientists working together with whānau can create the most marvellous contributions to life, which is the most important thing in the world.”