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The broad scope of research projects funded through this year’s investment from the Mardsen Fund demonstrates the value to society from university research, according to the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.

Professor Sir David Skegg, who chairs the NZVCC Research Committee, says the record $66 million investment from the fund this year supports 99 university research projects which should deliver a wide range of outcomes, including improving the health of mothers and their babies and “teaching an old brain new tricks”.

“It is good to see increased government support for basic research covered by the Mardsen Fund. Basic research is about discovery and largely takes place in universities. Such research is the most likely source of a breakthrough that will contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth.

“Further, university research on social issues is vital in understanding and alleviating societal impacts such as those caused by recession and rising unemployment.”

Professor Skegg said the support for university researchers at an early stage of their career was another pleasing aspect of the 2009 Marsden round. “The fact that roughly a third of the projects supported involve young researchers bodes well for the future of university research in this country.”

An example of such a “fast start” research supported by the Marsden Fund was a project entitled “finding the source of the stem cell stream” with Dr M A Curtis as principal investigator.

Other university research funded through Marsden this year covered areas of environmental concern – “corals in a changing world” as well as the humanities, “the printers’ web”.

Professor Skegg said universities and the fund shared objectives on basic research; it should be investigator-driven, enhance New Zealand’s knowledge base, contribute to the global advancement of knowledge and broaden this country’s research skill base.


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