FMHS researchers successful in 2011 Marsden Fund round

14 October 2011

Two research teams from the Faculty of Medical Health Sciences were successful in the 2011 Marsden Fund round, winning a total of $1.245 million. They are joined by a further seventeen teams from across the University and all of the funded proposals are for three years. Dr David Baddeley (Physiology) was awarded $345,000 to develop a new type of laser scanning microscope that can observe the properties and behaviour of biological cells on the nanometre scale and achieves molecular resolution.

“By controlling the photochemistry of fluorescent dye molecules we will localise single molecules in real time in live cells using new photo-sensors and fast signal processing algorithms. Our approach is designed to allow extremely rapid acquisition of molecular scale data so that even dynamic processes in living cells may be studied,” says Dr Baddeley.

A grant of $900,000 has also been awarded to a project led by Associate Professor Michelle Glass (Pharmacology) exploring a novel route to restricting G-protein coupled receptor signalling.

Almost half of all the medicines work on just one type of drug target, G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). These are proteins which allow cells to communicate with each other. While there are many different types of GPCR and each is spread widely throughout the body and controls many cellular processes, GPCRs may produce adverse drug effects when the medicine acts on receptors expressed in regions of the brain or body that are distinct from the areas which produce the desired effect. The project aims to target receptor complexes, whose narrow expression will result in the drug producing only the desired effects. “The Marsden Fund supports leading-edge research, which creates economic growth and increases our understanding of issues, from medical advancements to social change and development,” said Marsden Fund Council chairman Professor Peter Hunter in announcing the results. “Most breakthroughs around the world come from this basic science end of the research spectrum, which is what makes the Marsden Fund both exciting to be part of and vital for New Zealand to invest in.