Close to $1.8 million awarded to University of Auckland medical researchers

22 December 2011

Medical researchers from The University of Auckland have received the lion’s share of funding from The Auckland Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) announced yesterday.

Funding of $1,760,795 was awarded to eight projects and for two postdoctoral fellowships and four doctoral scholarships in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Science.

Research grants were awarded over a variety of research areas ranging from cancer, diabetes, stem cell, rheumatoid arthritis, skin grafts, and robotic assisted physiotherapy.

Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Professor Ian Reid says: “This is a great achievement for a diverse range of investigators within the University and the University continues to be greatly indebted to the AMRF for their support of medical research across Auckland and particularly within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.”

Foundation Executive Director Kim McWilliams says: “From our beginnings, we have promoted research of high scientific value and purpose across the full spectrum of medical science.

“Many of these researchers already have and will go on to become leaders and internationally recognised in their particular discipline or field of medicine. This round again saw applications from emerging scientists rise to record levels, and our response has been to fund six rather than the usual four Research Fellowships and Scholarships.”

Successful projects with first-named investigators from The University of Auckland are:

Long non-coding RNA in breast cancer  ($139,756 – two years) Dr Marjan Askarian-Amiri, Professor Bruce Baguley, Dr Cherie Blenkiron Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Tumour-induced lymphatics ($139,412 – two years) Dr Jonathan Astin, Professor Kathryn Crosier, Professor Phil Crosier Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Preventing atopy with Vitamin D ($108,291 – two years) Associate Professor of Cameron Grant Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Vitamin D status in Maori  and non-Maori ($97,329 – 18 months) Professor Ngaire Kerse, Catherine Bacon, Avinesh Pillai, Mark Bolland, Karen Hayman, Mere Kepa, Lorna Dyall School of Population Health Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

MRI of cartilage in RA (follow-up study) - ($135,372 – two years) Professor Fiona McQueen, Associate Professor Nicola Dalbeth, Dr Quentin Reeves Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Carriers for skin grafts ($97,329 - 18 months) Associate Professor Mervyn Merrilees Department of Anatomy with Radiology Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

PILVAX - ($83,504 –  one year) Associate Professor Thomas Proft Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Robotic gait rehabilitation system ($138,753 – two years) Professor Shane Xie Department of Mechanical Engineering Faculty of Engineering

Postdoctoral Fellowships: Biomarkers for treatment resistant schizophrenia ($179,267 – two years) Dr Valerie Anderson Department of Pharmacy Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Evaluation of scaffold materials for tendon regeneration Dr David Musson ($159,782 – two years) Department of Medicine Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Doctoral Scholarships:

Glutamate receptors in human melanoma ($116,000 – three years) Miss Stacey D’mello Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Genetic variants and SCD ($122,000 – three years) Miss Nicola Earle Cardiovascular Research Group Faculty of Medical Health Sciences

Preterm stem cell therapy ($122,000 – three years) Miss Lotte van den Heuij Department of Physiology Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Visual brain plasticity in adult humans ($122,000 – three years) Mr Victor Borges Department of Optometry & Vision Science Faculty of Science Contact:

Megan Fowlie, Communications Adviser P: +64 9 373 7599 extn 83257 M: +64 (0)21 802 143 Email: m.fowlie@auckland.ac.nz