Dr Giriraj Shekhawa – 1415001 ($163,686)
Section of Audiology, University of Auckland
Tinnitus (“ear and head noise”) affects approximately 15% of the population. Severe tinnitus can negatively impact the quality of life. There is a pressing need for greater understanding of how tinnitus arises, and evolves over-time, in order to develop effective therapies to address this problem. Traditional research in the area of tinnitus has used quantitative group designs, measuring limited variables across a group of tinnitus patients, sometimes before and after a single intervention. However, considering the heterogeneous nature of tinnitus, it is likely that individual differences are not properly accounted for or result in misinterpretation of results in large group trials. A solution, which we propose here, is to make use of multiple case studies investigated in depth over an extended period of time. This prospective research will explore the theoretical basis of network models of tinnitus through a mixed model design consisting of multiple behavioural (psychoacoustical, psychometric, and qualitative) and objective (fMRI) measures. Tinnitus in patients will be perturbed by short-term (brain stimulation) and long-term (hearing aid) stimulation. This novel study is likely to reveal potential prognostic factors for tinnitus management and the longitudinal changes in pathological brain networks associated with brain stimulation and hearing aid use.
Dr Yiwen Zheng – 7415002 ($199,987)
Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago
Chronic tinnitus is a debilitating condition that significantly reduces the quality of life in individuals affected and presents a considerable socioeconomic impact to society. Its prevalence is expected to increase in the future due to increased risky music-listening behaviours in the younger generation. Dysfunction of a specific type of neuron in the brain, shown to be responsible for neuronal inhibition, has been linked to tinnitus generation. I will selectively stimulate these neurons using a novel optogenetic technique. This technology allows specific types of neurons to be labelled with light-sensitive proteins. These light-sensitive proteins are able to turn these neurons “on” when exposed to light at a specific wavelength and turn them “off” when the light is off, so that “specific” neurons at “specific” locations can be manipulated at “specific” times. I will then measure neurotransmitter release in different areas of the brain, before and after optogenetic stimulation of the GABAergic neurons located in different areas of the brain to determine their time- and location-specific role in tinnitus prevention and treatment using a rat model of acoustic trauma-induced tinnitus. The results will significantly improve the current understanding of the neurological basis of tinnitus and highlight optimal therapeutic targets for tinnitus treatment.
A/Prof Johanna Montgomery – 1515001 ($10,000)
Department of Physiology, University of Auckland
3 months support for travel and accommodation costs in Berlin to access new autism mouse models and world-class imaging facilities, and also to visit Australia to begin a new collaboration examining the neural basis of cardiac arrhythmias.
Dr Lisa Pilkington – 7515002 ($65,000)
University of Auckland
Masters of Applied Statistics at the University of Oxford. To learn and develop skills in applied statistics so they can be utilised, in conjunction with my knowledge in the field of medicinal chemistry, to direct research in the field of drug discovery. Also, to further learn about the application of statistics in the field of genetics and disease.
Dr Michelle Wilson – 2715001 ($25,000)
Dept of Medical Oncology, Auckland District Health Board
Challenges facing clinical trial design in medical oncology.
Dr Hilary Sheppard – 1715003 ($800)
School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland
Funds to cover publication of a research paper in the journal Melanoma Research.
Dr Sarah Bristow – 1715001 ($30,000)
Department of Medicine, University of Auckland
Research support for her Edith C Coan Research Fellowship “Calcium, bone and cardiovascular health”
Dr Christopher Walker – 1715002 ($30,000)
Liggins Institute, The University of Auckland
Research support for her David and Cassie Anderson Research Fellowship “Neuropeptide receptors and pain”
Miss Lily Chang – 6715001 ($5,000)
Department of Optometry & Vision Science, University of Auckland
To attend Universitas 21 Health Sciences Forum, Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Santiago, Chile, 21-25 September 2015, and to meet and perform experiments with her collaborator at the Neurosciences Center.