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Massey Magazine Issue 13 November 2002

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Fellowships jumpstart Public Health Research Unit

WELLINGTON - The granting of four Health Research Council fellowships to Massey's new Public Health Research Unit has given it a flying start, says director Professor Neil Pearce.

The three-year fellowships are important for the centre because they reflect the wide range of projects being undertaken.

"Two are in epidemiology, and the other two are in health promotion, so there is quite a range happening," says Professor Pearce.

"This is good for the new centre, and good for Massey - probably the biggest number of fellowships that the University has ever received from the council in one funding round."

The three training research fellowships have been granted to:

*Dave McLean, (Public Health Research Training Fellow) who is studying occupational cancer among meatworkers. This is part of an international World Health Organisation study. Mr McLean is looking at the health records of 25,000 workers who worked in the industry over the past 30 years. Evidence suggests meatworkers have higher rates of lung and larynx cancers, also leukaemia and lymphomas. Past studies have looked at potential links with chemicals used in the workplace. The suspicion now is that animals are carrying unknown viruses into the processing plant.

*Lis Ellison-Loschmann, (Maori Health Research Training Fellow) who is looking at why asthma is more severe in Maori, as well as Maori access to health care and asthma education. This is being done jointly with the Maori Committee of the Asthma Foundation.

*Dr Ate Moala, (Pacific Health Research Training Fellow) who will be working with local communities to develop a health promotion model that is effective for fanau pasifiki and their families. The project will firstly identify what the people are doing right and what has made them resilient then build on that to develop positive outcomes for Pacific communities in New Zealand.

The HRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (Erihapeti Murchie Fellowship)has been awarded to:

* Dr Mihi Ratima, who is looking at models and methods of health promotion among Maori. In particular, she will be developing a framework for evidence-based Maori health promotion, and will be conducting a diabetes control demonstration project in Opotiki and the Wairarapa.

Professor Pearce says there is now a recognition that New Zealand needs a very broad vision for public health, and the above research projects are closely aligned with that vision.

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