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$2.8M additional funding for health research

News release

5 December 2006

$2.8M additional funding for health research granted by the HRC

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) has awarded an additional $2.8M in funding through its annual funding round for 2006.

Three new projects have been funded and a total of $32M has now been awarded to 40 projects in the funding round.

The projects cover three varied areas of health science, but all are focused on improving treatment for disease and illness.

Dr Deborah Hay from the University of Auckland will be working to better understand our body’s cellular receptors. Many drugs are designed to mimic or block the actions of the body’s own hormones and these are designed to fit into receptors on the surface of cells. Identifying the intricacies of how receptors work is crucial to designing more effective treatments. Dr Hay’s work will lead to improving treatment for diseases such as migraine, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Dr Dee Mangin from the University of Otago’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences (CSMHS) is looking to identify who and who will not benefit from long term treatment for depression. In a randomised controlled trial involving primary care patients who are currently not experiencing depression, continued treatment versus tapered withdrawal of antidepressants will be tested. The study will further understanding of optimal long term treatment of depression in primary care.

Dr Lisa Stamp and her team, also from CSMHS, will be focusing on improving treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, a common musculoskeletal disease. The study will look at how the concentration of methotrexate (a drug which treats rheumatoid arthritis) in the patient’s blood determines how well they respond to treatment, and whether the patient’s genetic makeup influences this. Different methods of administering the drug will also be tested.

“The HRC is delighted to be able to fund the three additional contracts for the 2006 contestable funding round,” says HRC Chief Executive Dr Bruce Scoggins.

“Originally on the reserve list, the three projects were able to be funded once the other approved contracts had been finalised.”


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