Wojciech Ambroziak

PhD Candidate
Centre for Brain Research
Department of Physiology


PhD Candidate
Centre for Brain Research
Department of Physiology

Science on the Brain

Wojciech arrived at the University of Auckland in 2014 from Warsaw, Poland to complete a PhD in neuroscience.

Having obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology at the University of Warsaw, Poland and the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, Wojciech became interested in genetics and completed a Master’s Degree at the University of Warsaw.

At the time, the field of human genetics was just beginning to take-off and it was an exciting new venture for Wojciech. Soon after, the human genome was decoded and this provided an understanding of the scope and breadth of genes.

“I always knew I wanted to be a scientist because I could not imagine doing anything else”

However, Wojciech decided to switch to cellular biology because through his research he was introduced to the area ofNeurophysiology.

Neurophysiology was a much more exciting field of research for Wojciech as he was interested in how neurones communicate with each other, a process called synapsis, and specifically what impedes this communications during neurodegenerative disease.

Synapsis is the pairing of two homologous chromosomes that occurs during meiosis. It allows matching-up of homologous pairs prior to their segregation, and possible chromosomal crossover between them.

Synapsis takes place during prophase I of meiosis. When homologous chromosomes synapse, their ends are first attached to the nuclear envelope. These end-membrane complexes then migrate, assisted by the extranuclear cytoskeleton, until matching ends have been paired.

Wojciech’s PhD, which he is one month short of submitting, is about the synaptic dysfunctions experienced in Huntington’s disease, as this illness affects multiple areas of the brain and has a profound and debilitating impact in people’s lives, not only due to cell death but also due to issues with inter-neuronal communications.

Huntington’s disease is an inherited disease that causes the progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington’s disease has a broad impact on a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders.

Wojciech loves neuroscience because as a scientist, he has the opportunity to answer a question that nobody knows the answer to and then communicate his discoveries to a wider audience, and he loves to be a part of this process.

It is very fulfilling for him to be a part of a group of people around the world who want to contribute to human knowledge, as he believes it’s important to leave a contribution.

In the near future he’d like to have his own research team and an academic position within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

It is also important to understand that every breakthrough in science is a collective effort of many, many people around the world. So every scientist gets a head-start from the ones before him.”