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Otago Researchers Gain Major Marsden Funding

Thursday 7 September 2006

Otago Researchers Gain Major Marsden Funding

University of Otago researchers have gained nearly $11 million to undertake ideas-driven research in the Government’s latest Marsden funding round announced today.

The 18 Otago projects funded out of the highly-competitive fund range from research into male brain development, Melanesian pre-history, how honey bee queens use chemicals to control their subjects; through to lasers which work as “optical tweezers” for microscopic particles.

Other innovative projects include investigating mechanisms behind sleep-related lowering in blood supply, which is a factor in strokes, the neuroscience behind how brains make choices and a new model of evolution and animal development.

Research Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Geoff White warmly congratulated the successful applicants who came from across the University’s Health Sciences, Humanities and Sciences Divisions.

“This is an outstanding outcome – it’s a real tribute to both their high calibre as researchers and the effort that went into putting together their top-notch applications,” says Prof White.

“Our researchers’ stellar performance backs up Otago’s recent ranking as New Zealand’s most research-intensive university and shows our continuing emphasis on fostering a strong research culture among staff is bearing fruit.”

This year, Otago received the highest number of research contracts awarded to any institution, in what is an increasingly highly-competitive funding round, he says.

Prof White noted that only about six per cent of the initial applications around the country were ultimately successful.

The Otago projects are:

Professor Wickliffe Abraham (Psychology), Dr Joanna Williams (Anatomy & Structural Biology)
Seeing change: Synaptic plasticity in the visual system
$940,000 over three years

Dr Phil Ainslie (Physiology)
Circadian rhythm, cerebral blood flow and nitric oxide
$140,000 over two years (Fast-Start Grant)

Assoc Prof David Bilkey (Psychology)
The neuroeconomics of choice behaviour CMP
$725,000 over three years

Dr Mik Black (Biochemistry)
Bayesian Models for personalized medicine
$140,000 over two years (Fast-Start Grant)

Dr Warwick Bowen (Physics)
Quantum enhanced particle position measurement with optical tweezers
$140,000 over two years (Fast-Start Grant)

Dr Peter Dearden (Biochemistry)
The Evolution of Animals: A new model system for animal developmental genetics $780,000 over three years

Assoc Prof Keith Gordon (Chemistry)
Understanding charge-carrier flow in electroluminescent materials
$565,000 over three years

Professor Alison Mercer, Dr Kyle Beggs (Zoology)
Controlling your offspring with chemicals: revealing the secrets of honey bee queens
$780,000 over three years

Assoc Prof Ian McLennan (Anatomy & Structural Biology)
Does MIS drive boys towards manhood?
$825,000 over three years

Dr Jing-Bao Nie (Bioethics Centre)
Predicaments of social engineering: The ideology and ethics of China's planned reproduction program
$534,000 over three years

Professor Stephen Robertson (Women’s & Children’s Health)
Lessons from rarities: the role of filamins in human development
$859,000 over three years

Dr Bernhard Schmitt (Physiology)
Electrophysiology with electroneutral membrane transporters
$640,000 over three years

Professor Glenn Summerhayes (Anthropology)
Head in the clouds - The Archaeology of Kosipe. Understanding the dynamics and nature of the colonisation of Near Oceania in the Late Pleistocene
$860,000 over three years.

Professor Gerald Tannock (Microbiology & Immunology)
Lactobacillus dialogues: the impact of cell signalling on gene expression and ecological behaviour of a gut commensal
$745,000 over three years

Dr Tim Thomas (Anthropology)
Island networks in Melanesia: the prehistory of Tetepare Island
$140,000 over two years (Fast-Start Grant)

Professor Evelyn Tribble (English)
The extended mind in early modern England
$455,000 over three years

Assoc Prof Graham Wallis (Zoology)
Finding speciation genes in New Zealand fishes
$825,000 over three years

Professor Christine Winterbourn, Assoc Prof Tony Kettle (Pathology, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences)
Radical targets of superoxide toxicity
$825,000 over three years

Collaborative project with Massey University:

Assoc Prof Richard Cannon (Oral Sciences) is a co-Principal Investigator in Candida albicans: Survival without sex? Co-Applicants: Dr Jan Schmid (Massey University) and Dr Barbara Holland (Massey University)
$770, 000 over three years


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