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Te Whanganui-a-Tara – A total of $11.3 million has been awarded to 58 researchers across Aotearoa in the Health Research Council’s annual career development awards.

The funding should improve the health of New Zealanders, by building research capability that responds to the population’s needs.

It will allow research into issues such as heart disease, childhood diabetes, workforce wellbeing, and traumatic brain injuries. It also supports frontline health clinicians to gain research qualifications and deliver the best evidence-informed healthcare.

The successful applications include projects led by Māori and Pacific researchers, driven by kaupapa Māori and Pacific research methodologies.

Nearly $3.2 million has been awarded to 24 Māori and 12 Pacific researchers, including early to mid-career researchers and health professionals, who are the next generation of Māori and Pacific health science leaders.

The research funded in the latest round highlights some of the country’s most innovative research, which will have a tangible impact on people’s lives. It demonstrates the research sector’s ability to respond to community needs and emerging health threats.

The Health Research Council is responsible for managing the government’s investment in health research. It invests about $120 million a year in research focused on improving the health and health equity of New Zealanders. It is currently supporting more than 4300 research positions.

Projects to be carried out by this year’s recipients, to highlight a few, will:

  • Understand the reasons for disparity in immunisation rates between Māori and non- Māori, and make recommendations toward future immunisation campaigns, services and strategies throughout Aotearoa.
  • Develop a new suite of treatment options to rapidly eliminate and prevent the emergence of drug resistance in mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • Discover new chemical tools for proteins associated with diseases that are of direct importance to New Zealand such as gout and Alzheimers disease.
  • Develop a nutrition-related health promotion framework to support oranga for Māori in contemporary times, based on traditional mātauranga and values around kai.
  • Identify the mechanisms by which bacteria defend themselves against oxidants, to reveal novel antimicrobial targets.
  • Explore how kaupapa Māori approaches and practices can improve maternal mental health outcomes.
  • Investigate blood biomarkers that may be used as screening tools to support clinician decision-making in the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries.