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$61 million for health research

28 June 2006 Media Statement

$61 million for research to address health needs of New Zealanders

Understanding the triggers for childhood asthma, and the prevention of diabetes are among the objectives of a $61 million Health Research Council funding round announced today.

Research Science and Technology Minister Steve Maharey says the new funding will go towards high quality research with potential to address the specific health needs of New Zealanders.

"This investment is being directed towards innovative health research that will benefit New Zealanders, in areas such as such as cancer control, disability and diabetes," Steve Maharey said.

"The labour-led government last year increased its investment in health research by $70 million over the next four years to fund priority health research.

"Health research is not only one of the most important areas of investment in the government's research investment portfolio, it has one of the best track-records. Evaluations show that New Zealand's health research is now among the best in the world in terms of quality.

"Research funded by the HRC can also have important commercial spin-offs for New Zealand. Cancer research by Auckland University has, for example, led to the establishment of ProActa, which is now developing a new generation of cancer drugs.

"Research at the Liggins Institute resulted in the “cool cap, an innovative cap that prevents brain damage in newborn babies deprived of oxygen, and work at Otago University has led to Antipodean Pharma’s ground-breaking treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, MitoQ, now in phase 2 clinical trials.”

"Of all the great science being produced in this country, it's health research that will have the most direct impact on the lives of New Zealanders. If we want to see real improvements in health and wellbeing, we need to continue to invest in resources to support our leading scientists."

The Health Research Council of New Zealand – the Government’s principal agency for funding health research in New Zealand – has announced 56 projects that will receive funding under the latest investment round. More details at www.hrc.govt.nz

ENDS

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