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Massey Magazine Issue 13 November 2002

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HRC funds allergy research

Five research programmes on health issues including cancer, housing, otoxin exposure feature in funding announced in June by the Health Research Council.

The Centre for Public Health Research (CPHR) has been funded to study whether endotoxin exposure can reverse atopy and atopic disease. The four-year project has been funded $409,715. Those involved are Dr Jeroen Douwes, Dr Christine van Dalen, Dr Lis Ellison-Loschmann, David J McLean, and Professor Neil Pearce (all from CPHR), and Professor Graham Le Gros (Malaghan Institute of Medical Research).

The study involves a prospective cohort of previously unexposed allergic adults who are starting a career in industries with moderate to high endotoxin exposures. Allergies, asthma, lung function, immune status and endotoxin exposure will be monitored upon start of employment and followed annually for a period of two years to see if endotoxin exposure can reverse atopy and atopic asthma.

The Centre has also been funded $120,000 over three years to study cancer in Pacific populations. Researchers involved are Dr Sunia Foliaki, Dr Mona Jeffreys, Dr Lis Ellison-Loschmann, Dr Ate Moala, Professor Neil Pearce (all from CPHR), Professor George Davey Smith (University of Bristol), Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola (Ministry of Health, Tonga), Dr Paolo Boffetta (International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France), Dr Marc Goodman (University of Hawaii), Dr Lepani Waqatakirewa (Ministry of Health, Fiji), Dr Haresimelika Paka (Department of Health, Niue), and Dr Semisi Aiono (Ministry of Health, Samoa). The research involves descriptive analyses of cancer incidence and mortality in four Pacific countries (Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, and Niue) and in Pacific people in New Zealand, as well as a case-control study of breast cancer in women which will be conducted in the same four Pacific countries in parallel with a similar study in Pacific women in New Zealand.

Dr Stephen Stannard of the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Associate Professor Campbell Thompson of the Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia, and Professor Chris Cunningham of the Centre for Public Health Research will research insulin resistance, muscle triglyceride and Mäori. Funding is $113,945.

Professor Neil Pearce will work with Professor Innes Asher, Alistair Stewart, Professor Edwin Mitchell, Professor Richard Beasley, of the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Auckland, on ISAAC phase three analysis, publication and dissemination. The project is for two years, with funding of $790,756

Professor Chris Cunningham will collaborate with Associate Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, Professor Julian Crane, and Dr Michael Baker of the Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago, on a housing and health research programme. The programme has been funded for three years, for $3.65 million.

The HRC received 210 applications in its annual project round, and awarded 54 contracts. These were chosen in a two-step process involving local and overseas expert referees who work in the same research area, and intense scrutiny by specialised assessing committees.

The total amount for new contracts was $51.42 million.


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