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Researcher awarded $500,000 fellowship

23 November 2006

University of Canterbury researcher awarded $500,000 fellowship

University of Canterbury researcher Dr Christopher Hann is one of three recipients of the prestigious Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowships for 2006.

Dr Hann is a research associate in the University's Mechanical Engineering department.

The fellowship, which is awarded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, is valued at $500,000 over four years.

Dr Hann is creating patient-specific heart modelling methodologies to diagnose and optimise treatment of cardiac conditions in critical care patients.

He is working in collaboration with a team including Dr Geoffrey Shaw (Christchurch Hospital’s Department of Intensive Care Medicine), Associate Professor Geoff Chase (Mechanical Engineering) and Ms Christina Starfinger, (PhD student, Centre for Bio-Engineering).

Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of hospitalisation in New Zealand and death while in critical care. Dr Hann’s research will help reduce deaths in critical care by improving the management of cardiovascular disease through the development of technology which can create a model of an individual patient's heart.

"Rather than trialling therapies on a patient, they will be trialled on a computer first. That way, the correct dosage can be determined for that particular patient," he says,

Dr Hann is delighted to be a recipient of the Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship.

"This will allow us to trial the technology to the point where, in four years time, we should be ready to implement the technology in a hospital environment."

“I believe that one reason for the success of this medical research fellowship application coming from an engineering department is the world-leading results we have already obtained on animal data generously donated by colleagues at the University of Liege in Belgium and the University of Aalborg in Denmark."

Dr Shaw says the work will have tremendous implications for patients and is a long overdue development in the field of intensive care.

The Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship was established by the HRC in 2002 as an advanced post-doctoral award to enable outstanding emerging researchers to establish or re-establish their career in New Zealand.

The award is named after Sir Charles Hercus (1888-1971) in recognition of the contributions he made to biomedical, clinical and public health research during a distinguished 36-year career at the University of Otago, and his dedicated service to the Medical Research Council (now the Health Research Council of New Zealand).


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