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Michael Valenzuela

Visiting Professor UNSW, UNSW Sydney

Michael is Visiting Professor at the University of NSW, advisor to World Health Organization and Co-Founder and CEO of Skin2Neuron Pty Ltd.

He studied psychology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney Australia before completing a PhD under the supervision of Professor Perminder Sachdev on the topic of cognitive reserve. For this work he was awarded the prestigious Eureka Prize for Medical Research in 2006. At the same time, he completed medical training at the University of Sydney and junior medical officer roles at the Prince of Wales Hospital. Since award of a competitive Vice Chancellor’s Fellowship from UNSW in 2006 he has received continuous National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) funding, learning from and contributing to the life of the labs of Professor Sachdev (neuropsychiatry), Professor Michael Breakspear (neuroimaging) and Dr Kuldip Sidhu (stem cells) at UNSW, and Professor Carol Brayne (public health) at Cambridge University, UK. In 2010 he was honoured to receive a NHMRC Excellence Award for the top-ranked clinical Career Development Fellowship, and in 2012 established his own independent lab, the Regenerative Neuroscience Group, at the University of Sydney. In 2015 he received a NHMRC senior Career Development Fellowship, one of only six awarded nationally.

Michael is a medical science thought leader and health innovator with a career-long commitment to the elimination of dementia. He is amongst the rare 1% of investigators worldwide to lead research across the areas of stem cells, clinical trials, neuroimaging and cognition. He is primary inventor of a new method of production of neural precursor cells under patent examination, and scientific co-founder of spin-out company Skin2Neuron Pty Ltd, dedicated to developing an all-new treatment strategy. His work on cognitive reserve is recognised internationally, including contribution to the WHO ICOPE Guidelines for cognition, writing the definitive entry for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology and international advisory roles for the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative and Alzheimer Association’s Professional Interest Area on Cognitive Reserve and Resilience. His work in cognitive training includes some of the most widely cited systematic reviews, clinical trials and mechanistic studies, culminating in co-design and co-leadership of the Maintain Your Brain study in Australia, the world’s largest dementia prevention trial. Michael’s group has produced a pipeline of digital cognitive technology, including BrainyApp, the Brain Training System, LOGOS and Function_Cloud, all at different stages of translation, deployment and commercialisation. Michael is author of a popular science book on brain health and dementia prevention, Maintain Your Brain.


  • 2020–present
    Professor, School of Psychiatry
  • 2020–present
    Chief Scientist, Skin2Neuron Pty Ltd
  • 2018–2020
    Professor, Brain and Mind Centre University of Sydney
  • 2012–2018
    Associate professor, Brain and Mind Centre University of Sydney
  • 2010–2012
    Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales
  • 2005–2010
    Research Fellow in Regenerative Neuroscience, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales


  • 2005 
    School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Doctorate of Philosophy
  • 2004 
    University of Sydney, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (Honours)
  • 1996 
    University of New South Wales, Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours

Research Areas

  • Neurosciences (1109)
  • Regenerative Medicine (Incl. Stem Cells And Tissue Engineering) (100404)