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Funded Research Projects

The Research projects supported by the Foundation have not only improved medical care in the Wellington region, but have also contributed significantly to medical advancement in New Zealand and internationally.

The Foundation is a voluntary association that receives its entire funding through donations, subscriptions and bequests.

The Foundation has encouraged and financially supported a wide range of research projects that would otherwise not have been possible.

One of the Foundation’s aims is to highlight the essential benefits of medical research and to emphasise that anyone can support research and thus make a vital investment in the health of the community – our community !

Consistent with the resources available to it, the Wellington Medical Research Foundation funds all forms of medical research with the sole criterion being scientific merit. Grants are made only to researchers who carry out scientific medical research in the Wellington region.

The Foundation receives no government assistance. We rely solely on subscriptions, donations and bequests. Please join us in supporting medical research.
2014 – Project Grants

Project Grants 2014

The following projects were approved for funding in May 2014 and will be reported on in subsequent Research Reviews of the Foundation.

David Ackerley
Victoria University of Wellington

Development of enzymatic tools to improve Zebrafish models for metabolic disease and stem cell-based regenerative medicine.

This research aims to engineer pairs of nitroreductases such that each enzyme in the pair is specific for a particular prodrug substrate. Genes encoding the evolved enzymes will then be sent to John Hopkins University for proof-of-principle testing and application in Zebrafish models of stem cell-based regenerative medicine.

Darren Day
Victoria University of Wellington

Targeting antibiotic tolerance in Pseudomonas aeroginosa with DNA aptamers.

P. aeroginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that amongst other things, causes chronic antibiotic tolerant respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis patients that often result in significant morbidity and mortality.

This proposal will add to the growing body of evidence supporting the utility of aptamers as therapeutic agents. This is a rapidly expanding field that has great potential for benefiting clinical medicine.

Elaine Dennison
Victoria University of Wellington

What factors influence delay in sexually transmitted infection testing in a student population, and what is the incidence of reactive arthritis in this group?

This project aims to describe the epidemiology of STIs in a student population at Victoria University of Wellington. The results of the project will be made available to the VUW Student Health Services and could be used to inform the evidence-based decisions about service provision and configuration. The results could also be used by clinicians and researchers to inform and develop more general intervention strategies to target those most likely to delay in seeking healthcare for STI symptoms.

Sara Filoche
University of Otago, Wellington

Antibiotic resistance and childhood hospital admissions: A concern for urinary tract infections?

UTIs are one of the top 10 reasons why children are admitted to hospital in New Zealand. This research has great potential for community benefit and meaningful health outcomes.

Laura Green
Victoria University of Wellington

Using in vivo live cell imaging to monitor the effects of Clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic agent, on immune cell trafficking across the blood brain barrier and microglia activation in the animal mode of Multiple Sclerosis.

The overall aim of this research is to investigate the possible changes to immune cell trafficking across the blood brain barrier by Clozapine treatment.

The results gained will also contribute to the delivery of improved outcomes for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

Bronwyn Kivell
Victoria University of Wellington

Investigating the anti-pain and anti-inflammatory effects of novel endocannabinoid-like lipids.

The long-term goal of this project is to identify and develop more effective pharmacotherapies to treat pain and inflammation.

Xiaoyun Ren
Institute of Environmental Science and Research

How do meningococci defend against phagocytosis?

The goal of this project is to identify mechanisms by which meningococci avoid clearance by the host innate immune system, a hallmark of meningococcal disease.

Sally Rose
University of Otago, Wellington

Is the rising popularity of long-acting contraception impacting on Chlamydia rates?

The findings of this study would potentially inform the development of practical interventions designed to ensure women and their partners are equipped to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Paul Atkinson
Victoria University of Wellington

Determination of quantitative trait loci contributing to differential drug response.

This project aims to investigate the genetic basis for individual differences in drug response.
Past projects include research on:

Respiratory symptoms in New Zealand horse trainers
MHC polymorphism in Pacific Island populations
Cardiovascular disease
Multiple Sclerosis
Research Fellow at Malaghan Institute
Ecosystem health and gastrointestinal disease
Premature ageing
Cellular telephone use and tumours of the brain, head and neck
Mineral ion reservoirs in dental plaque
A greater knowledge of the mechanisms of inflammatory kidney disease and kidney cancer
Development of diagnostic procedures for management of abdominal pain thereby reducing the need for surgery
Elucidation of factors modifying plaque deposition on teeth
Contributing causes of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
An understanding of the role of the immune system in the development of malignancy
Development of a blood test to detect some cancers
Greater understanding of the nature of multiple sclerosis

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