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Research Awards: Thanking donors for your investment in our future health

AMRF recently held its 2022 Research Awards Event. This was a moment to recognise the excellent young and emerging researchers receiving AMRF funding over the year. It was also a chance for their family, friends, colleagues, whānau and AMRF stakeholders and donors to see what their donations can achieve to move research forward.

One story in particular stood out at the recent event.

Elaijah Tuivaiti and Hemi Young are both budding 21 year old med students, having just finished their second year of study towards their MBChB degrees at the University of Auckland. Hemi and Elai both received a scholarship to Dilworth School, and have remained in the same class for almost the past decade. Originally, Hemi is from Pukenui, a small place north of Kaitaia, in the far North and Elai is from Ōtāhuhu, the isthmus defined as the entrance to South Auckland.

Elaijah Tuivaiti, Dr Te Hao Apaapa-Timu, Prof Shanthi Ameratunga, and Hemi Young in front of a woven mat decorating a wall
Elaijah Tuivaiti, Te Hao Apaapa-Timu, Prof Shanthi Ameratunga, and Hemi Young (l-r). The students give special thanks to the Paul Stevenson Trust for sponsoring this kaupapa, and special acknowledgements to Adrian Trenholme, Taria Tane, Te Hao Apaapa-Timu, Cass Byrnes, Pam Tregonning, the Maaori Child Health Research Collaborative and the Kidz First Team at Counties.

Hemi and Elai are passionate about addressing inequalities and inequities, having grown up being surrounded by them. They were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do a summer studentship after their pre-medicine year with the Kidz First Team supervised under Prof Shanthi Ameratunga and Dr Braden Te Ao.

Their research on the project of "Achieving Pae Ora for Children Surviving Injury: A Call To Action" investigates injury hospital presentation of tamariki, and their access to services, rehabilitation, and recovery post-hospitalisation. Currently, ACC figures show inequities in post-hospitalisation funding for injury, as certain populations have lower funding despite higher rates of presentation.

"This begs the question, are we treating our tamariki equally or equitably?"

"Our review shows the lack of research surrounding this topic. This neglect on this topic allows for the neglect of these tamariki. A classic saying is "No stats, no problem", and it seems to be the issue here, where there can be no perceived problem if there are no statistics to show for it."

Hemi and Elai were awarded the 2022 AMRF Best Oral Presentation in Population Health Research at the recent Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau 2022 Research Week.

They say, "This award means a lot to us and will significantly aid us in our careers. Being young students in med school, we know that this funding will unlock opportunities that would not have otherwise been possible. By increasing and unlocking accessibility to conferences for us, we can learn, connect, and flourish in this area of medicine and health that we enjoy so much."


Congratulations to all the AMRF award recipients in 2022, listed here with photos of the event below.

Dr Amy Chan - AMRF-FMHS Senior Research Fellowship Data-driven approaches to predict asthma exacerbations in Aotearoa New Zealand Dr Renita Martis – AMRF Postdoctoral Fellowship Inter-tissue antioxidant exchange in the eye Dr Anthony Walters - Ruth Spencer Medical Research Fellowship Long-term effects of antenatal corticosteroid exposure Dr Brittany Park - Douglas Goodfellow Medical Research Fellowship Physiologic Reserve and Emergency Laparotomy

Conor Nelson - Helen Goodwin Doctoral Scholarship An immunotherapeutic approach to treating cognitive decline in aging Samuel James – Hugh Green Doctoral Scholarship Novel Molecular Mechanisms of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy Bronwyn Riley – AMRF Doctoral Scholarship The tail striatum in Parkinson’s Disease Dr Erin Cawston - Gavin and Ann Kellaway Medical Research Fellowship To develop expertise in fluid biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases through overseas experience and collaboration Dr Winston Tan - Sir Harcourt Caughey Award Effect of MitoTEMPO, a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant, in protecting against age-related sensory hair cell degeneration and hearing loss in mice Dr Irene Vorontsova - Sir Harcourt Caughey Award Unravelling mechanisms of leading causes of blindness – cataract and myopia using the power of zebrafish Dr Peter Qiu - Sir Harcourt Caughey Award New insights into presbyopia – developing and validating a spin test device to measure regional differences in lens stiffness Dr Julie Spray - Sir Harcourt Caughey Award How Do Children and Families Negotiate Roles in Asthma Self-Management? A/Prof Joanna James - Sir Douglas Robb Fund Award Support for the 2022 ANZPRA Satellite Meeting Dr Emma Nolan - Kelliher Charitable Trust Emerging Researcher Start-up Award A novel 3D organoid model to study cancer-adipocyte crosstalk Dr Nikki Earle - Kelliher Charitable Trust Emerging Researcher Start-up Award Multi-omics and biomarkers to personalise risk prediction and therapy in acute coronary syndromes Dr Marie-Claire Smith - Kelliher Charitable Trust Emerging Researcher Start-up Award TWIST 3: Validation of the Time to Walking Independently after Stroke tool Dr Lola Mugisho - AMRF Best Research Presentation Award – SUMMIT2022 Inhibiting the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway preventing age-related cognitive and retinal decline in mice Dr Julia Plank - AMRF Outstanding Emerging Researcher Award - HealtheX Brain temperature as a measure of neuroinflammation: assessment using whole-brain magnetic resonance spectroscopy Alice McDouall - AMRF Doctoral Oral Presentation Runner Up Award - HealtheX Detrimental effects of slow rewarming after therapeutic hypothermia for cerebral ischemia in near term fetal sheep Vanshika Chinchalkar - AMRF Best Poster Presentation Award - HealtheX The use of Optical Coherence Tomography to visualise the inner ear Debra Gerrard – AMRF Best Oral Presentation in Māori Health Research Award - Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau Taiohi and Whānau Hīkoi from the community into active mental health and addictions: A Kaupapa Māori study Elaijah Tuivaiti & Hemi Young – AMRF Best Oral Presentation in Population Health Research Award - Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau Achieving Pae Ora for children surviving injury: a call to action

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