$1.25m for health research
A $1.25m Health Research Council (HRC)
Programme Grant for the Universitys Centre for Public Health
Research has ensured long-term funding for the centre, says the
Director, Professor Neil Pearce. The grant, which will support the
Centres core infrastructure as well as two major new projects,
was announced last week.
We are now formally recognised as a Programme by the Health
Research Council, with support confirmed for the next three years,
and possible renewals for another nine, says Professor Pearce.
This gets us on to the same status as the Universitys
other HRC Programme Te Pümanawa Hauora, the Mäori
Health Research Centre within the School of Mäori Studies.
Previously, most HRC funding has gone to the Otago and Auckland
University medical schools. Last weeks grant confirms Massey
as also being a major player.
The Programme Grant application was supported by a number of research
partners, including both Te Pümanawa Hauroa and the EpiCentre
at Massey, the Malaghan Institute for Medical Research, Victoria
Universitys Health Services Research Centre and Environmental
Sciences and Research (ESR).
This represents an extensive collaboration with other institutions.
The funding covers two new studies which will be a major focus for
the centres research over the next few years, in addition
to the Centres existing research projects in asthma, cancer,
Mäori health and Pacific health.
One study focuses on asthma rates in children living on farms.
Over the past few years, research done by us and others has made
it increasingly clear that a lot of asthma does not involve allergic
mechanisms, he says.
There is increasing evidence that children and babies born
on farms have a lower than usual risk of asthma, even though theyre
exposed to lots of allergens. There is something about the farming
environment that protects children and babies against developing
We suspect that the answer is connected to the hygiene
hypothesis which suggests that asthma rates are climbing all
over the world because we used to be exposed to a lot of bugs and
infections that protected us against asthma. If we can work out
why this happens, we might be able to develop ways to prevent getting
The study is being done by Professor Pearce and Dr Jeroen Douwes
at the CPHR, together with Dr Joanna McKenzie and Professor Roger
Morris at Masseys EpiCentre, Professor Graham Le Gros at the
Malaghan Institute for Medical Research, and Dr Erika von Mutius
from the University Childrens Hospital in Munich, Germany.
The other study is being conducted in collaboration with Occupational
Safety and Health (OSH) and involves investigating occupational
causes of bladder cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, leukaemia
and nasopharyngeal cancer in adult New Zealanders.
The study is being done by Professor Pearce, Dave McLean and Dr
Jeroen Douwes from the CPHR, together with Dr Evan Dryson and Dr
Chris Walls from OSH.