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HRC opens door for international health research

News release

20 December 2006

HRC opens door for international health research collaborations

Three research grants awarded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) will boost international links between health researchers.

Objective 1 of the International Investment Opportunities Fund (IIOF) focuses on enabling outstanding New Zealand researchers to build research collaborations with overseas research teams. The fund supports applicants to engage in research activities that will produce gains for New Zealand, offer significant leverage to build New Zealand’s health research capacity, and are likely to attract international co-funding to support longer term research projects.

The research proposals selected cover three varied health disciplines, each with potential to benefit the health of New Zealanders.

Associate Professor Annette Huntington from Massey University and her New Zealand (NZ) research team have been invited to join a trans-Tasman, longitudinal study of the nursing workforce. This project is a world-first, using innovative web technology. All nurses in NZ will be invited to participate.

Dr David Mc Bride from the University of Otago heads the NZ arm of a 26-country study of musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs) and disability in workers. MSDs are the most frequently occurring occupational diseases in NZ.

Dr Tony Merriman, also from the University of Otago, will join international research leaders to combine research findings into common autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Graves’ disease. By combining research findings, the researchers propose to validate associations in independent cohorts and fine-map genetic variants which are thought to cause autoimmunity.

Details of funding approved by the HRC Board and offered to research teams in the HRC’s 2006/07 round of IIOF Objective 1 are as follows:

The Nurses and Midwives E-cohort Study

24 months, $233,414

Associate Professor Annette Huntington, Dr Jean Gilmour, Professor Carol McVeigh, Dr Denise Wilson, Dr Stephen Neville, School of Health Sciences, Massey University, (04) 801 5799 ext 6315; Professor Philip Schulter, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology.

Lead International Partner: Associate Professor Catherine Turner, School of Nursing, University of Queensland.

Other New Zealand Partners: The Nursing Council of New Zealand, the New Zealand Nurses’ Organisation, The College of Nurses Aotearoa NZ, The Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, The Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps.

International survey of musculoskeletal disorders and related disability

24 months, $183,456

Dr David McBride, Dr Sarah Derrett, Ms Helen Harcombe, Associate Professor Peter Herbison, Department of Preventative and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, (03) 479 7208; Dr Sarah Dean, Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago.

Lead International Partner: Professor David Coggon, Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

A combined whole genome association scan for common autoimmunity genes

24 months, $418,875

Dr Tony Merriman, Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago, (03) 479 5798.

Lead International Partner: Dr Simon Pearce, University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.

Other International Partners: Dr Sophia Steer, King’s College, London, United Kingdom and Dr Timothy Vyse, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

For further information:
Dr Bruce Scoggins

HRC Chief Executive

Tel: 09 303 5203 OR Kristine Scherp

HRC Manager Communications

Tel: 09 303 5202

About the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC)

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) is the Government’s principal funding and investment agency for health research. It is responsible for investing government monies allocated for health research. The HRC’s mission is to improve human health by promoting and funding health science. This includes support for biomedical and clinical research, public health research, health services research and research which addresses the health needs of Maori and Pacific peoples. The HRC also partners with government and non-government organisations to fund targeted, outcome-focussed research across a wide range of sectors and disciplines.



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