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Anonymous donor gives $5 million to heart research appeal

Thursday September 6, 2012


Anonymous donor gives $5 million to the University of Otago Christchurch Appeal


The University of Otago Christchurch Appeal got off to a flying start with a $5 million donation to its Christchurch Heart Institute fund.

University of Otago Vice Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne will launch the Christchurch Appeal tonight at an Alumni function in the garden city.

The Appeal will raise money for four of the best research and teaching projects at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

The $5 million donation has been pledged to the Christchurch Heart Institute fund, one of these four projects.

The benefactor is a successful New Zealander who does not want to be identified as they want attention to be focused on the ‘excellent research and science conducted by the Christchurch Heart Institute’ rather than on them.

Their donation is one of the largest by an individual to the University of Otago.

University of Otago, Christchurch, Dean Professor Peter Joyce says he is thrilled with the donation.

“Our donor recognises that research, such as the work carried out at the University of Otago, Christchurch, is the only way to make breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of conditions such as heart disease, which affect so many families.

“This person has given the University of Otago, Christchurch, $5 million without wanting any public recognition, which is both generous and exceptional.’’

The $5 million will go towards the Christchurch Heart Institute’s world-leading work in discovering and trialling new tests and treatments for various forms of heart disease, Professor Joyce says.

Over the past 25 years the Christchurch Heart Institute (formerly known as the Christchurch Cardioendocrine Research Group) has made ground-breaking discoveries and exciting new breakthroughs are on the horizon. It has patents on a number of cutting-edge potential tests and treatments.

One example of the Christchurch Heart Institute’s world-leading work is the development of a blood test to diagnose and monitor heart failure. It saves the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year.

Professor Joyce says researchers from the University of Otago, Christchurch, did well at winning research grants but there was often a shortfall between available funding and what was needed to carry out desired work.

Professor Joyce says staff at the University of Otago, Christchurch, had been teaching medical students from their fourth year onwards, and conducting research, in the city for 40 years.

“People may not be aware that our University has been in Christchurch since 1973. During that time we have been teaching senior medical students and doing world-recognised health research. We now also have hundreds of postgraduate students, with the largest group being postgraduate nursing students,’’ Professor Joyce said.

The four funds in the Christchurch Appeal are:
• The Christchurch Heart Institute fund
• The Centre for Free Radical Research fund
• The Carrell-Espiner Fellowships fund
• The Simulation Centre fund


University of Otago, Christchurch, Appeal funds

The Christchurch Heart Institute (CHI):

• Sixteen New Zealanders die every day as a result of a heart attack.
• Forty per cent of all premature deaths in this country are the result of heart disease.
• Early detection and management markedly improves survival.

Over the past 25 years the Christchurch Heart Institute has made some ground-breaking discoveries and exciting new breakthroughs are on the horizon. It has patents on a number of cutting-edge potential tests and treatments.

One example of CHI’s world-leading work is the development of a blood test to diagnose and monitor heart failure. It saves the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year.

The Christchurch Heart Institute is an internationally-renowned team of experts including cardiologists, geneticists, molecular biologists, biochemists and physiologists.

It is the only group in New Zealand working from the laboratory to the bedside and in the community developing improved diagnostic tests, better prediction of outcomes in cardiovascular conditions, and discovering and trialling new treatments.

For more information about key people and specific projects see:
www.otago.ac.nz/christchurch/research/CHI

The Christchurch Heart Institute was formerly called the Christchurch Cardioendocrine Research Group.

The Centre for Free Radical Research

• Can chemicals in vegetables such as broccoli be used in anti-cancer therapies?
• Could eating kiwifruit slow the progress of cancerous tumours?
• Is it possible to stop the disintegration of the lungs of children with cystic fibrosis?

The Centre for Free Radical Research is the internationally-recognised leader in understanding free radicals and how they contribute to disease.

Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that can contribute to disease when they are not controlled by antioxidants, which are present in fruit and vegetables.

Centre for Free Radical Research staff are currently working on globally-competitive research projects aimed at developing new diagnostic tools and treatments for:

• Cancer
• Arthritis and gout
• Inflammatory bowel disease
• Cystic fibrosis
• Heart disease
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Parkinson’s disease

The Centre is headed by four world-renowned scientists, including Professor Christine Winterbourn who was awarded New Zealand’s most prestigious science prize, the Royal Society’s Rutherford Medal (2011).

For more information see www.otago.ac.nz/christchurch/research/freeradical

The Carrell-Espiner Postdoctoral Fellowships and Clinical Training Fellowships

Medical research is critical to a healthier community but funding is often all too scarce.

Fellowships provide money at crucial times in the development of future research leaders.

Donations to the Carrell-Espiner Postdoctoral Fellowships and Clinical Training Fellowships will be invested and interest used to fund Postdoctoral Fellowships or Clinical Training Fellowships for young and able science, medical, nursing or allied health graduates across all areas of health.

Robin Carrell and Eric Espiner were early members of our staff.

Robin Carrell’s research on haemoglobin in Christchurch and Cambridge University was pioneering. He was influential in the development of the Centre for Free Radical Research.

Eric Espiner is an internationally-renowned expert in heart disease and endocrinology and still works with the Christchurch Heart Institute.

To get an overview of the kinds of research undertaken at the University of Otago, Christchurch, see www.chmeds.ac.nz


The University of Otago, Christchurch, Simulation Centre

Medical and nursing students need to be fostered to become caring, skilled professionals.

At our world-class Simulation Centre we provide a safe environment for your future carers to practise clinical and professional skills before performing them in real-life medical scenarios. We also use these situations to teach the next generation better communication skills, empathy, professionalism and working as a team.

The Simulation Centre offers:
• Life-sized human simulators that simulate medical conditions such as heart failure and asthma.
• Rooms set up like a GP’s surgery, a hospital ward room and an emergency department resuscitation area.
• A range of other medical models, including arms for practising taking blood and putting in intravenous drips.
ends

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