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CoREs reflect NZ’s top health research talent

Naming of three health CoREs reflects NZ’s top health research talent


The Board and management of the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) would like to congratulate all the health researchers involved with the newly announced Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs).

Last week the Tertiary Education Commission announced the six specialist CoREs selected for 2013/2014 to make major contributions to New Zealand’s future economic and social development.

The successful CoREs included three focused on health research: the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery (hosted by the University of Auckland and directed by Professor Rod Dunbar); and two new CoRES: the Medical Technologies CoRE (hosted by the University of Auckland and directed by Professor Peter Hunter) and the Brain Research New Zealand – Rangahau Roro Aotearoa (co-hosted by the University of Auckland and the University of Otago, and directed by Professor Richard Faull and Professor Wickliffe Abraham).

“The directors of these health CoREs have long histories of involvement with the HRC,” says HRC Board Chair, Mr Robert Stewart. “We take great pride in having helped financially to support the careers of these outstanding individuals.”

Professor Rod Dunbar trained as a doctor at the University of Otago before being awarded a HRC training fellowship and completing his PhD. He has recently completed a HRC-funded project on Antigen presentation to T cells in human lymph nodes and is currently a named investigator on two other HRC-funded projects.

Professor Peter Hunter’s involvement with the HRC dates back to 1994. He is currently the principal investigator on a $5 million programme looking at mapping the determinants of arrhythmia in structural heart disease.

Professor Richard Faull has a strong track record of past HRC support, having first received funding from the HRC over 20 years ago for a project about Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease brain chemistry.
He also received the HRC’s prestigious Liley Medal in 2005 for his work identifying that, contrary to previously held views, the diseased human brain has the potential to generate new neurons and to repair itself in response to brain cell death. Professor Faull is currently a named investigator on three HRC-funded projects. While Professor Wickliffe Abraham is currently leading two HRC-funded studies centred on identifying Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers and therapeutic targets to rescue impaired memory and cognition.

“These researchers have put hundreds of hours into HRC committees, reviewing and advising on New Zealand research grants and peer reviewing overseas research grant applications. We are extremely grateful for the years of effort that they, and their colleagues, have put into making the HRC the internationally respected medical research funder that it is today, and helping lift New Zealand’s medical research excellence,” says Mr Stewart.


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