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Christchurch researchers get HRC funding

University of Otago Wednesday 20 July 2011, 12:09PM

Media release from University of Otago

Professor David Fergusson of the University of Otago, Christchurch, and his team have been granted almost $4 million by the Health Research Council (HRC) to continue work on their world-renowned longitudinal study, including measuring the psychological toll of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Professor Fergusson's Health and Development Study has been running for more than 30 years. Its findings have shaped Government policy and enlightened New Zealanders about the exact impact of childhood disadvantages on later life outcomes.

The HRC funding will allow Professor Fergusson and his team to study participants to age 35, across a range of measures. Information was first collected about participants, and their families, when they were infants.

Professor Fergusson says he will look at the consequences of the 2010 Canterbury earthquake for those study participants who experienced it. He will be able to compare outcomes for them with participants who were not in Canterbury at that time.

Other Christchurch research teams funded by the HRC include:

•    Head of the University of Otago, Christchurch's, Psychological Medicine department, Professor Roger Mulder was granted $726,684 for a study using modified cognitive behavioural treatment for non-cardiac chest pain.  Chest pain is one of the most common reasons for presenting to emergency departments. But the majority of chest pain is not cardiac in origin. Current ways of dealing with this, such as reassurance, are not very effective. Professor Mulder will evaluate a brief psychosocial intervention to reduce distress, and teach coping skills, stress management and cardiac risk factor reduction to see if the intervention results in less use of health resources and better quality of life for patients.

•    Associate Professor Marie Crowe from the Psychological Medicine department has been granted $1,189,961 to research the effectiveness of a Biopolar Disorder Clinic. The trial addresses a gap in mental health care for this group after they are released from specialist mental health services. The Biopolar Disorder Clinic focuses on a combination of psychotherapy and medication management. At the moment people with bipolar disorder normally have follow-up appointments with a GP except for acute instances.

•    Associate Professor Lisa Stamp was granted $1,199,225 to study the safety and efficacy of increasing the recommended dose of the most commonly prescribed gout medication. There is evidence many patients fail to achieve adequate reduction in required blood urate levels, at recommended doses. Preliminary evidence shows increasing dose is safe and effective.

•    Professor Mark Richards, head of the Christchurch Cardioendocrine Research Group, had his research funding extended ($3,430,492) so his team can continue work on the Hauora Manawa/Community Heart Study, a study into the prediction of onset and outcomes in coronary heart disease and research to develop a range of specific tests for acute cardiac injury.

•    Associate Professor Margreet Vissers will receive $812,985 to study the impact of vitamin-C on cancerous tumour growth in an animal model.

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