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AMRF Awards $1.8million to Auckland Researchers

17 December 2010

Auckland Medical Research Foundation Announces December Grants

AMRF Awards $1.8million to Auckland Researchers in its Latest Grant Round

The Auckland Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) announced today $1,845,141 in funding to medical researchers in Auckland in its December 2010 grant round.

Foundation Executive Director Kim McWilliams says, “From our beginnings, we have promoted research of high scientific value and purpose across the full spectrum of medical science, concentrating our efforts on assisting promising young scientists to kick start their research careers. Many of these have gone on to become leaders and internationally recognised in their particular discipline or field of medicine.”

The grants included 10 full research projects, the inaugural Goodfellow Repatriation Fellowship, two Postdoctoral Fellowships and three Doctoral Scholarships. Research grants were awarded over a variety of research areas ranging from brain research and neurodegenerative diseases, hearing and vision loss, cancer, respiratory health, diabetes, pregnancy and preeclampsia, stroke, vascular disease, and back pain.

Recipients of the research grants include:
• Dr Srdjan Vlajkovic and co-workers from the Department of Physiology at the University of Auckland, who were awarded $143, 024 over two years to investigate new approaches for the prevention of hearing loss
• Associate Professor Mark McKeage from the Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, who was awarded $74,846 over two years to investigate treatments to prevent or limit the effects of nerve damage caused by cancer chemotherapy
• Dr Conroy Wong and co-workers of the Department of Medicine who were awarded $60,425 for a one year study to develop a novel test for distinguishing bacterial from viral lung infections

AMRF Research Fellowships were awarded to three emerging researchers to help support their career development.

The Inaugural Goodfellow Repatriation Fellowship was awarded to Dr Joanna James. This prestigious award is to encourage medical researchers with exceptional potential to return to New Zealand to expand the scale and scope of New Zealand medical research.

Dr James is a graduate of the University of Auckland and is currently a Research Fellow at St George’s University of London, UK. She is an outstanding young researcher who will return to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology to develop her research career in the area of human pregnancy and its complications.
Postdoctoral Fellowships, of two years duration, were awarded to Dr Peter Freestone from the Department of Physiology and Mr Tet Woo Lee from the School of Biological Sciences. These awards provide salary and some working expenses for two years. Dr Freestone’s research will focus on the regulation of dopaminergic neurons in the brain and the implications for neurodegenerative disease. Mr Lee will investigate a protein called neuroserpin which is believed to enhance nerve cell growth.

Doctoral Scholarships were awarded to three graduates and will provide three years of funding to enable them to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in medical research. The recipients are:
• Miss Sheryl Tan (Centre for Brain Research) will investigate the regulation of stem cell migration in Parkinson’s Disease
• Miss Taryn Saggese (Department of Anatomy with Radiology) will be studying the biology underlying the degeneration of intervertebral discs, which leads to chronic back pain
• Ms Erica Chen (Department of Ophthalmology) will investigate novel treatments for glaucoma

In addition to its research grants, the AMRF also awarded a total of 36 travel grants this year. These will provide valuable assistance to researchers to attend various conferences and training courses throughout the year.

Research project summaries overleaf
The AMRF is a major independent funding agency and Charitable Trust that provides contestable funding for medical research based in the greater Auckland region. Over the past 55 years the AMRF has distributed over $40 million in funding to a wide range of research activities - $3.3million distributed in 2010 alone.

For further information on the current grants awarded and application forms for future grant rounds see our website at


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