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Otago’s Research Excellence

Thursday 8 September 2005

Major Marsden Fund Success Reflects Otago’s Research Excellence

University of Otago researchers have won 18 Marsden Fund contracts worth nearly $11 million to undertake fundamental research.

Otago projects funded in the latest round of the highly competitive Government research fund will allow innovative research across a wide range of areas such as: how the brain kick-starts puberty, how a tumour-suppressing protein works in cells, further study at the frontiers of physics into a exotic new state of matter, and research into patterns of early contact between Maori and Europeans in the South Island.

Other projects include work on understanding how children’s memory skills grow with age and investigating the process of programmed cell death, which often goes awry in cancer and other diseases.

University Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Geoff White says he is absolutely delighted at the outstanding outcome, which saw researchers from across the University’s Health Sciences, Sciences and Humanities Divisions win 15 ‘standard’ contracts and three ‘Fast-Start’ grants for early-career researchers.

“I warmly congratulate our researchers on their tremendous efforts in winning these grants. Marsden funding is extremely competitive,” says Prof White.

He points out that the very high quality of Otago’s research is shown by its high success rate compared to other institutions.

For Otago, 13.5 per cent of initial applications were funded, whereas for all other universities and Crown Research Institutes, the success rate averaged 7.4 per cent, he says.

The researchers’ success was especially pleasing given the University’s continuing efforts to foster and support a strong research culture among staff, he added.

“This brilliant result will help reinforce Otago’s mission as a research-led university with an international reputation for the quality of its research and teaching.”

In this year’s Marsden round, Otago gained more contracts and funding than any other institution in New Zealand. A full list of winners follows below.

Marsden Contracts:
Dr Greg Anderson (Anatomy & Structural Biology) Gonadotrophin-inhibitory hormone: a new player in the control of fertility - $650,000 over three years

Professor Antony Braithwaite (Pathology) Live or let die: importance of cell death for tumour prevention by p53 - $870,000 over three years

Dr Tony Ballantyne (History) A conquest of knowledge?: knowledge and the colonisation of Murihiku - $475,000 over 3 years

Dr Blair Blakie (Physics) Finite temperature dynamics of Bose gases - $139,270 over two years (Fast Start)

Dr Greg Cook (Microbiology & Immunology) A novel regulatory protein used by bacteria to sense and resist antibiotics - $660,000 over three years.

Dr Catherine Day (Biochemistry) Regulation of degradation by RING domain-mediated interactions $730,000 over three years

Dr Kevin Dew (Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences) Tracking health care interactions: patient-professional communication $642,000 over three years

Dr Jacob Edmond (English) A new global poetics: postmodern poetry in China, Russia, and the United States $140,000 over two years (Fast Start)

Professor Crispin Gardiner (Physics) Quantum coherent structures in ultra-cold atomic systems $600,000 over three years

Professor Harlene Hayne (Psychology) Constructing the future, remembering the past: the emergence of mental time travel during human development $825,000 over three years

Professor Allan Herbison (Physiology) Starting puberty with a kiss(peptin) $735,000 over 3 years

Professor Charles Higham (Anthropology) The Neolithic Revolution in Southeast Asia $777,288 over three years

Associate Professor Iain Lamont (Biochemistry) Control of gene expression by regulated degradation of a transcription factor $649,000 over three years

Dr Ayako Mabuchi (Physiology) Endotoxin-stimulated liver regeneration: a new role for hepatic stellate cells? $750,000 over three years

Dr John Reynolds (Anatomy & Structural Biology) Monkey see; monkey do. How does visual information become associated with specific actions? $615,000 over three years

Dr Takashi Shogimen (History) Medicine and the body politic: an approach to the global history of political thought $129,714 over 2 years (Fast Start)

Associate Professor Hamish G Spencer (Zoology) Modelling the evolutionary genetics of parental effects $710,000 over three years

Dr Andrew Wilson (Physics) Quantum chemistry in the ultracold - production and spectroscopy of ultracold heteronuclear molecules $810,000

ENDS

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