Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences celebrates Marsden success

03 November 2017
Fiona McBryde

Grants of $3 million have been awarded to four research projects from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences in this year’s Marsden Fund round.

Dean of Medical and Health Sciences Professor John Fraser says Marsdens have been awarded to Dr Fiona McBryde, Dr Susan McGlashan, Professor Peter Adams and Dr Joanne Davidson.

“I know I speak for all of us when congratulating these academics on their success.  Competition for Marsden grants is intense and their success is a reflection on the quality of their proposed research.”  

Dr Fiona McBryde in the Department of Physiology will investigate a pioneering technique measuring the dynamic relationship between blood pressure, sympathetic nerve activity and brain blood flow.

In her study, ‘Defending blood flow to the ‘selfish’ brain’, Dr McBryde will study how, with its high energy needs, it is essential that the brain protects its blood supply. The study may have major clinical implications for understanding whether hypertension and/or anti-hypertensive medications impact the brain’s ability to protect itself from low blood flow, and potentially guide appropriate medication strategies to help offset dementia risk.

Dr Susan McGlashan’s Marsden Grant, ‘Stiffness matters: Unravelling the reciprocal relationship between tissue mechanical stiffness and cellular mechanosensitivity’, will examine how the cells’ own sensory probe called the primary cilium is controlled by the mechanical stiffness of the extracellular matrix.

The study will examine how tissue stiffness impacts on cell function and aims to elucidate novel mechanical mechanisms to manipulate cell behaviour.

Dr McGlashan is based in the Department of Anatomy and Medical Imaging. The study will use advanced techniques in material science to produce cell compatible surfaces that mimic different tissues.

Professor Peter Adams’ Marsden, ‘Shaping Public Policy: Mixed Methods Study of Alcohol, Tobacco, Gambling and Food Industry Points of Influence with Policy Makers’, will study the way relationships are formed between industry actors in the areas of alcohol, tobacco, gambling and food, and the way these relationships are used to influence policy.

This is not accidental as industries associated with these products invest resources in influencing policy makers.

One strategy, which has received little research attention, involves gaining influence by gradually building relationships of mutual obligation between industry actors and political actors. This study seeks to understand these relationship-building activities by investigating what goes on in the spaces in which these connections are achieved.

Dr Joanne Davidson of the Department of Physiology will research how oxygen deprivation at birth causes injury to the brain in her study, ’Does ATP release contribute to perinatal brain injury after ischaemia?’

Oxygen deprivation at birth can result in brain damage. The only treatment is brain cooling, which reduces death and disability but is only partially effective. To improve treatment, we need to better understand how oxygen deprivation causes injury. This project will improve our understanding of how brain damage at birth occurs and highlight new potential treatment strategies to prevent it.

The University is celebrating the success of 31 of its researchers and research groups whose projects have won $19.8 million.

“These awards recognise the high calibre of researchers at the University of Auckland as well as the quality and breadth of our research,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Jim Metson.

Applications to the Marsden Fund are highly competitive. This year the fund distributed $84.6 million to 133 research projects around the country.

Successful projects from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences are:

Dr Fiona McBryde, ($959,000)

Physiology

‘Defending blood flow to the ‘selfish’ brain’

 

Dr Susan McGlashan, ($920,000)

Anatomy and Medical Imaging

‘Stiffness matters: Unravelling the reciprocal relationship between tissue mechanical stiffness and cellular mechanosensitivity’

 

Professor Peter Adams ($825,000)

Social and Community Health

‘Shaping Public Policy: Mixed Methods Study of Alcohol, Tobacco, Gambling and Food Industry Points of Influence with Policy Makers’

 

Dr Joanne Davidson ($300,000 fast start)

Physiology

’Does ATP release contribute to perinatal brain injury after ischaemia?’

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