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Traumatic brain Injury & heart disease research

Mātai to place East Coast at forefront of traumatic brain Injury & heart disease research

The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund has awarded $6 million dollars to develop Mātai, a not-for-profit medical imaging research and innovation centre in Tairāwhiti Gisborne. A core focus of the Centre’s research will be traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion and heart disease. TBI, concussion and cardiovascular issues have a significant impact on mental health and well-being, and primary health conditions - conditions which cost the healthcare system millions annually.

Mātai means to investigate or examine. The Mātai whakatauāki Te Mata Mātai Hura translates to ‘the investigative revealing eye’.

Mātai Director of Research Dr Samantha Holdsworth, is a University of Auckland Senior Lecturer and leading researcher in brain imaging. She has made breakthroughs in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technologies while previously working as a senior researcher at Stanford University. MRI uses harmless magnetic fields to see inside our bodies, allowing non-invasive insights into injury and disease.

Dr Holdsworth says, “Our work in Tairāwhiti, combined with expert support from our global networks, and by bringing the latest technology to the East Coast, we will deliver health and social benefits to the community and to the country.”

New Zealand’s pre-eminent neuroscientist, University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research (CBR) Director and Mātai Trustee Sir Richard Faull says, “Mātai’s research in brain injury could help advance the science and treatment of brain trauma, complementing the work underway at CBR and extending research out to the wider community. The East Coast community will lead transformational healthcare and provide pathway for others to follow. This initiative will inspire a change to healthcare discovery in Aotearoa.”

The University of Auckland is supporting Mātai with a transformational multi-disciplinary team of researchers, post-doctoral researchers, and students across the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, the Centre for Brain Research (CBR), and the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

An additional $1m in support has come from Tairāwhiti Gisborne’s local community wellbeing and economic development agency, the Eastland Community Trust (ECT).

“ECT is proud to support the establishment of a world-class research facility located in Tairāwhiti,” says ECT Chief Executive Gavin Murphy.

Mātai collaborators include local and international research experts and local medical practitioners with expertise in disciplines such medical imaging, neurology, cardiology, ophthalmology, radiology, computer vision, bioengineering, machine learning and Māori Health. Recent advancements in internet connectivity mean that Gisborne’s physical location holds few barriers to research, and national and global project collaboration.


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