The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory

The Team at The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory 2017


The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory is currently located at Tamaki Campus in the Discipline of Speech Science, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science and sits as one of the Clinical Neuroscience Research Teams in the Centre of Brain Research.

Dr Anna Miles, PhD, a speech-language therapist leads the Swallowing Research Laboratory in close collaboration with Dr Jacqui Allen, a Consultant Laryngologist in the Surgical Department of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Current Research

The Swallowing Research Laboratory at The University of Auckland strives to improve the lives of people with swallowing difficulties through improved assessment, treatment and medical education in the field of dysphagia. The laboratory hopes to reduce the risks of pneumonia and death associated with swallowing difficulties as well as improve the quality of life of people who struggle with this condition.

Relationship to MND

The team currently collects data on patients referred for swallowing assessment across all aetiologies including motor neuron disease. This allows us to assess the specific effects of motor neuron disease on swallowing in comparison to other diseases and to the healthy population. A number of our treatment studies have potential to be effective for people with motor neuron disease and we are currently seeking doctoral funding to support this work.


The University of Auckland Swallowing Research Laboratory has strong international collaborations with University California, Davis and University of Queensland among others. Internally, it works between Faculty of Medical Health Sciences, Food Science and Psychology.


The Swallowing Research Laboratory has an increasing database of videofluoroscopic swallowing studies and endoscopic swallowing studies of people with motor neuron disease carefully mapping swallowing physiology across and within patients.

The Team

The Swallowing Research Laboratory is an enthusiastic group of academics, clinicians, doctoral students, medical students and speech-language therapy students.


Anna Miles PhD
Speech-language Therapist
Professional Standards Portfolio Holder, Executive Council, New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association
Expert Advisor to New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association (NZSTA) – Adult Dysphagia

Senior Lecturer, Speech Science, School of Psychology
Leading psychological science, scholarship and practice

Tamaki Campus (Bld 721 Rm 314)
261 Morrin Road, Glen Innes
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Phone: +64 9 923 8177 Fax: +64 9 373 7902
Email:    Website:



Centre for Public Health Research

Grace Chen


Grace Chen, Research Officer, PhD Candidate, Centre for Public Health Research, College of Health, Massey University.

Dr Dave McLean, Principal Investigator and Grace Chen’s supervisor

Professor Jeroen Douwes, Head of Department and Grace Chen’s supervisor

Professors Neil Pearce and Leonard van den Berg – overseas collaborators

Current Research

Grace and the team are conducting a New Zealand population based control study to investigate associations between occupational and environmental exposures and MND.

Relationship to MND

The aim of the study is to determine the relationship between MND and a range of unknown or suspected occupational and environmental exposures in New Zealand.

Future Research

The intention is to do more studies on MND after this study result has been published.


The Motor Neuron Disease Association New Zealand supports the recruitment for MND patients. The study also collaborated with the Centre for Brain Research (Scotter Lab) for the selected markers of the disease process.


Currently not using any shared resources, will share the database of the bio-markers of the disease process in New Zealand.

Resource Gaps

A formal diagnosis letter on the type of MND will help us to have a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

Contact Details

Centre for Public Health Research
Massey University
Wellington Campus
PO Box 756
Wellington 6140

p: +64 4 801 5799 (63121) or +64  4 9793121