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Fellowships awarded to up and coming scientists

HRC health research fellowships awarded to up and coming scientists

Health Research Council of New Zealand Te Kaunihera Rangahau Hauora o Aotearoa 26 November 2007 HRC health research fellowships awarded to up and coming scientists

Two emerging health research leaders have been awarded Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowships by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) for 2007.

The Fellowships, each worth $0.5M over four years, have been awarded to Dr Simon Parry at the University of Auckland and Dr Rebecca Roberts at the University of Otago, Christchurch to complete advanced postdoctoral health research.

Dr Parry will be investigating adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that is involved in the control of fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Adiponectin levels are markedly decreased in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease, and pre-clinical studies have demonstrated improvement in the symptoms of these conditions following adiponectin treatment.

Dr Parry aims to discover how the biological activity of the adiponectin molecule is affected when it forms compounds with carbohydrate structures. In the longer term it is hoped that this research will lead to identifying compounds for development as therapies for a number of diseases.

Dr Roberts’ research will focus on the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), specifically how genes may be able to predict both the risk of developing IBD and the response to drugs used to manage IBD. IBD, which appears as either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, is a debilitating life-long condition with no known cure and it has been identified as a major health problem in New Zealand. The research undertaken by Dr Roberts may ultimately provide insights on how to prevent and better treat IBD.

“The HRC is committed to developing the future health research workforce and addressing the challenge of keeping future research leaders in careers in New Zealand is a key part of that,” says HRC Chief Executive Dr Robin Olds.

The Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship was established by the HRC in 2002 as an advanced postdoctoral award which would 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 HRC.


A full list of HRC Career Development Award recipients for 2007 follows: Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship

Dr Simon Parry, University of Auckland, Glycoproteomic studies of adiponectin and its role in obesity-linked disorders, 48 months, $500,000 Dr Rebecca Roberts, University of Otago, Genetics of susceptibility and management in inflammatory bowel disease, 48 months, $500,000

Foxley Fellowship Dr Malcolm Stewart, University of Auckland, Tools and approaches for enhancing mental health outcomes, 12 months, $80,000

ACC Career Development Awards Ms Mary Butler, University of Otago, Disability following injury (Postdoctoral), 36 months, $287,458 Miss Kimberley Cousins, University of Otago, Evaluation of a community-based initiative to reduce alcohol-related harm and disorder (PhD), 36 months, $103,607 Miss Petra Hoggarth, University of Canterbury, Computerized sensory-motor & cognitive tests for predicting driving ability in older adults (PhD), 28 months, $79,212 Mr David Rice, AUT University, Reflex muscle weakness after knee injury and disease: Mechanisms and treatment (PhD), 36 months, $99,929

Clinical Research Training Fellowship Dr Mary Berry, University of Auckland, Long term consequences of neonatal growth rates in lambs, 36 months, $250,000 Ms Angela Cadogan, AUT University, Diagnostic Accuracy of a Clinical Examination in Determining the Source of Shoulder Pain, 36 months, $250,000 Dr Karen Falloon, University of Auckland, Randomised controlled trial to study the effectiveness of sleep restriction compared to sleep hygiene in the treatment of Primary Insomnia in a Primary Care setting, 36 months, $250,000 Dr Jennifer Fan, University of Auckland, Elucidating the pathophysiology of hydrops corneae in keratoconus, 12 months, $90,000 Dr Wai Gin (Don) Lee, University of Auckland, RCT of beta-blockers to reduce energy expenditure and improve nutrition in cirrhosis, 36 months, $250,000 Dr Greg O’Grady, University of Auckland, A rational foundation for gastric stimulation through continuum-modelling, 36 months, $250,000

About the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC)

The HRC is the Crown agency responsible for the management of the Government’s investment in public good health research. Ownership of the HRC resides with the Minister of Health, with funding being primarily provided from Vote Research, Science and Technology. A Memorandum of Understanding between the two Ministers sets out this relationship. Established under the Health Research Council Act 1990, the HRC's statutory functions include:

-advising the Minister and administering funds in relation to national health research policy

-fostering the recruitment, education, training, and retention of those engaged in health research in New Zealand

-initiating and supporting health research

-undertaking consultation to establish priorities in health research

-promoting and disseminating the results of health research to encourage their contribution to health science, policy and delivery

-ensuring the development and application of appropriate assessment standards by committees or subcommittees that assess health research proposals.


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