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$78m in health research funding announced

Hon Steven Joyce

Minister of Science & Innovation

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health

9 June 2014 Media Statement
$78m in health research funding announced

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Health Minister Tony Ryall today announced a total of $78 million in health research funding as part of the 2014 Health Research Council (HRC) of New Zealand’s funding round.

The funding will cover 50 new Projects ($56 million), 4 new Programmes ($20 million), and 14 Emerging Researcher First Grants ($2.02 million), and has increased significantly from last year due to the release of funds from maturing contracts.

“The Government has been able to increase its funding offers for grants in 2014 by almost $18 million above the 2013 funding round,” Mr Joyce says.

“Many of the research contracts awarded after the significant funding increase announced in the 2010 budget finish at the end of this year or during 2014/2015 financial year. This has allowed us to fund more projects in 2014.”

In 2013, a total of $60.2 million was awarded for 33 Projects ($33.9 million), 5 Programmes (24.8 million), and 10 Emerging Researcher First Grants ($1.5 million).

Mr Ryall says the success rates of researchers in the HRC’s funding round are higher this year than last year – and in the case of Projects, 23 percent higher (53 percent in 2014 versus 30 percent in 2013).

“We’re delighted to be able to fund more research contracts to support New Zealand’s excellent health researchers who will advance our knowledge of health, improve health outcomes for New Zealanders, and provide access to the international health research arena,” Mr Ryall says.

One of the Projects funded is part of a landmark three-year diabetes prevention trial across New Zealand, Australia, UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Spain and Bulgaria. Professor Sally Poppitt from the University of Auckland will carry out the New Zealand arm of the trial, which aims to test if a higher protein diet is more successful for weight loss and diabetes prevention than the current international best practice of a higher carbohydrate diet.

The researchers behind two novel implant ideas have both received Project funding to test the key technical and scientific requirements of their devices.Professor Simon Malpas from the University of Auckland will develop a tiny implant that will allow clinicians to wirelessly monitor long term the intracranial pressure, brain temperature and fluid flow of patients with excess fluid on the brain. While Dr Mark Staiger from the University of Canterburyaims to develop high strength metal plates and screws that will break down safely in the body.

Other Project recipients include Professor Tim Anderson from theUniversity of Otago, Christchurch, who will carry out advanced brain scans, gene testing, and clinical evaluations in Parkinson’s disease patients with mild cognitive impairment, and Māori neuroscientist Dr Melanie Cheungfrom the University of Auckland, who will measure the effectiveness of a special brain resilience training programme that she and her team have developed in partnership with the Brain Plasticity Institute in San Francisco, US, to slow the progression of Huntington’s disease.

Some of the grants reflect the Government’s strong focus on maternal health, pregnancy and early childhood. Examples include University of Otago,Dunedin, Programme recipient Professor David Grattan, whose ‘Healthy pregnancy, healthy babies’ study will evaluate how specific pregnancy hormones induce changes in the mother’s brain. Also, Emerging Researcher First Grant recipients Dr Jacqueline Henderson (University of Canterbury), who will assess the effects of methadone exposure during pregnancy on children’s brain and nervous system development, and Dr Joanna James(University of Auckland) whose research aims to determine if mesenchymal stem cells could be a viable treatment for pregnant women who experience intrauterine growth restriction.

The full list of all 2014 Project, Programme, and Emerging Researcher First Grant recipients and summaries of the studies, are available at:http://www.hrc.govt.nz/funding-opportunities/recipients?tid_1=23&tid=All&field_year_value%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2014


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