Baraa Abuharbid | McCall MacBain Foundation Kupe Leadership Scholar

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours)

Despite breakthroughs in various facets of health increasing human life expectancy, one important factor hindering further progress is the health of our brains. Neurological disorders are the leading cause of physical and cognitive disability worldwide, limiting the potential of our newfound longevity.

The burden of these disorders is exacerbated by their growing prevalence and the inadequacy of our systems in detecting them at treatable stages, causing them to worsen overtime. Growing up in Palestine, I witnessed the profound impact these disorders can have on individuals and their families if left untreated.

As a result, my research focuses on exploring the possibility of identifying a clinically significant biomarker for Parkinson’s Disease, with the aim of diagnosing and identifying high risk patients sooner. This would enable us to utilize existing therapeutic drugs to prevent further disease progression.

Sponsor: McCall MacBain Foundation

Mentor: Professor Sir Ashley Bloomfield, KNZM

Professor Sir Ashley Bloomfield KNZM, a NZ public health official. He served as the chief executive of the Ministry of Health and the country's Director-General of Health from 2018 to 2022. He was the public-facing health specialist liaising with the media during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand on behalf of the government, from the first press conference on 27 January 2020. In the 2023 New Year Honours, Bloomfield was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to public health. He joined the University of Auckland in 2023 as a Professor in the School of Public Health and Director of the Public Policy Impact Institute (PPII).