Faculty receives powerful support from HRC funding round

22 July 2011

This week the Health Research Council released the outcomes of its 2011 Grant funding with a total of $74.56 million committed to issues which impact directly on the health of New Zealanders. Themes evident from this year’s HRC results include research into mental health, diabetes, obesity and Maori health issues. Headline outcomes for our faculty from the round include two significant programmes being funded, with two programme extensions, eight projects and three feasibility studies.

Successful initiatives at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at The University of Auckland being funded by 2011 HRC grants include: • Neurodegeneration in the Human Brain – Mechanisms and Therapeutic Targets ; led by Professor Mike Dragunow of the Centre for Brain Research, $4,467,504 over 5 years. This programme will investigate underlying mechanisms and treatments for the major neurodegenerative diseases - Alzheimer's, Epilepsy, Parkinson's, and Huntington's – which currently affect over 100,000 New Zealanders, a number which will grow markedly as our population ages.

Vascular Informatics using Epidemiology and the Web (VIEW), Professor Rod Jackson, SOPH, $4,939,449 over 5 years. This programme will develop better risk prediction tools to identify high-risk CVD patients, quantify and map gaps and disparities in appropriate treatment and model the impact of treatment disparities on CVD burden. This will build on the huge data source that SOPH researchers have developed with the diagnostic tool PREDICT.

Physiological targeting in Cancer Therapy , led by Professor Bill Wilson of the ACSRC; $5,252,166 over 3 years for this programme extension which continues ACSRC’s work in developing novel strategies for cancer therapy through selective activation of prodrugs within tumours, and builds on previous HRC grants which have discovered the likes of the dinitrobenzamide mustard prodrug PR-104.

Signalling Pathways involved in the control of glucose metabolism , Professor Peter Shepherd, $2,657,516 over 3 years. This programme extension brings together groups with expertise in neuroendocrinology and the peripheral glucose metabolism and signal transduction experience of the Shepherd lab to look at the complex and only partially understood interactions between the body’s nutrient levels, hormonal systems (both on muscle, fat and liver tissues and on the brain) and target tissues.

Individual projects at FMHS funded in the 2011 HRC grant round:

M-health Delivery for Reducing Alcohol in the Trauma Environment (MoDeRATE) Trial ; led by Professor Shanthi Ameratunga, $1,185,265, 3 years

Potent Reactive Radicals as Hypoxia-Selective Cytotoxins for Cancer Treatment ; Associate Professor Robert Anderson, $1,194,225, 3 years

Can Pluripotent Amnion Epithelial Cells help the Injured Preterm Brain? Professor Laura Bennet, $1,154,402, 3 years

Toxicity of Mesenteric Lymph in Critical Illness ; Professor John Windsor, $1,134,445, 3 years

Marae Food Gardens: Health and Wellbeing through the Urban Marae in Tamaki Makaurau; Dr Rhys Jones, $1,165,597, 3 years

Energetics of the Diabetic Heart; Dr Denis Loiselle, $1,009,179, 3 years

Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI): Nationwide Case-control Study ; Professor Edwin Mitchell, $1,180,131, 3 years

TRIO: Targeted Rehabilitation, Improved Outcomes; Dr Cathy Stinear, $1,126,268, 3 years

Of the $74.56 million funding offered in the 2011 HRC round, 36.6 per cent is for research team salaries, 27.3 per cent is for research expenses, and 36.1 per cent covers the indirect costs of the research to the host institutions.

“We are supporting some very exciting studies this year, which reflect the very high calibre of New Zealand health research. This year our investment will speed the development of new drugs that attack cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmed, give new hope to those affected by neurological disorders and provide urgently needed data on how to ameliorate the human impact of natural disasters,” says HRC Chief Executive, Dr Robin Olds.

To view the press release and linked spreadsheet which outlines detailed information about the 2011 HRC funding round successful proposals, including recipients, lay summaries, salaries, expenses and overheads, please click here .