Miss Kate Faase
Dept of Psychological Medicine, The University of Auckland
The proposed studies will investigate the impact of branding on medication effectiveness and side effects. Study 1 will look at the impact of branding in a social context in which participants may or may not see another person experience medication side effects. Study 2 will investigate whether generic painkillers work as well as branded painkillers when people know which medication (branded or generic) they are taking compared to when they do not know. This research is relevant to a wide range of medical treatments. As more and more medications become available, government budgets must find ways to accommodate this growth, often through funding generic alternatives rather than branded drugs. Public perceptions of generic medications are generally negative, and these perceptions may influence expectations about medications. Previous research suggests that changing medications can reduce how well a medication works, and changing to a generic can increase side effects. Additionally, social information transmitted through television and the internet can increase side effect reporting, and may also spread negative expectations about generic medications.
Funded by: Edith C Coan Trust
Miss Elizabeth Hammond
Dept of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, The University of Auckland
In New Zealand, there is an increasing trend for women to delay child bearing. This is a significant health issue as female fertility declines during ageing, due to both the loss of eggs and lowering of egg quality. Consequently, there has been increasing use of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), a technology which uses drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce mature eggs which are then collected and fertilised outside the body. One fertilised egg is then put back into the uterus to hopefully establish a successful pregnancy. Clinically, there is a need for improved markers of egg quality so that only the best embryo is transferred into the uterus. We will investigate how egg quality is affected by ageing and ovarian stimulation drugs, which could lead onto the development of a marker of egg quality and improved IVF protocols. We aim to find ways to improve IVF success rates, especially in older women. Premature menopause (under 40 years) is also becoming more of an issue as woman delay child bearing. We wish to identify some genetic causes of premature menopause, and search for early clinical markers that provide a better opportunity for intervention.
Funded by: The John A Jarrett Trust
Mr Nabin Paudel
Dept of Optometry & Vision Science, The University of Auckland
Newborn babies commonly experience low blood sugar, a condition known as neonatal hypoglycaemia. As glucose is the brain’s main energy source, this condition may impair neurological function, however, at present, very little is known about the effect of neonatal hypoglycaemia on brain development. As a consequence, the level of neonatal hypoglycaemia that requires treatment in early infancy is currently unknown. This PhD project forms part of a large multidisciplinary study known as the Children with Hypoglycemia and their Later Development (the CHYLD study) which aims to assess the developmental effects of neonatal hypoglycaemia in a cohort of 500 children whose blood glucose levels were measured continuously for several days after birth. The aim of this specific project is to assess visual function in these children at the ages of 2 and 4.5 years. Vision is of particular interest as neonatal hypoglycaemia may preferentially affect visual brain areas. The assessments include a range of vision tests targeting specific regions of the visual cortex and will therefore provide new insights into the effect of neonatal hypoglycaemia on the rate and extent of visual cortex development. The study will also provide important information regarding the treatment and management of hypoglycaemia in newborns.
Dr Otto Leopold Strauss
Dept of Surgery, The University of Auckland
Antigen presenting cells (APCs) are critical in initiating and directing the immune response in humans. Detailed description of APCs in skin, blood, and lymph nodes has proven their importance in normal and diseased states and has identified them as targets for therapies in disease. Despite this, APCs have not been appropriately characterised in human liver. The liver is unique in that it promotes a state of tolerance and in doing so is not only the most readily accepted transplanted organ, but also harbours infection such as hepatitis and malaria, and malignancy that is both malignant and originating within the organ. In certain situations it can still mount a potent immune response, such as to clear infection of hepatitis A, or in the autoimmune diseases of primary sclerosing cholangitis and autoimmune hepatitis. The project will use modern techniques to accurately describe APC populations in the liver in detail. Improving our knowledge of these cells will help us to understand the biology of health and disease in the liver, but will also define targets on liver APCs to allow for their use in future therapies and drugs to combat disease not only of the liver, but the entire body.