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Centre members win $29 million in national health research funding round

6 June 2013

The Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery is delighted that members of its national research network have received a total of $29 million in the annual Health Research Council of New Zealand funding round – almost half the amount awarded this year.

The grants will support research on a wide range of topics from designing new drugs for cancer to modelling heart failure and arrhythmia (abnormal electrical rhythm) and understanding the role of the immune system in allergic disease.

The funding includes four programme grants of almost $5 million each over five years – including two awarded to Maurice Wilkins Centre principal investigators Professors William Denny and Peter Hunter – and eight project grants of around $1 million each over three years. The lead researchers are based at The University of Auckland, University of Otago, and Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.

The Health Research Council supports research that has the potential to improve health outcomes and delivery of healthcare, and to produce economic gain for New Zealand. Grants awarded to members of the Maurice Wilkins Centre network in the 2013 annual funding round include:


Professor William Denny, The University of Auckland
Rational design of kinase inhibitors to target cancer
60 months, $4,923,458

Professor Peter Hunter, The University of Auckland
Mapping determinants of arrhythmia in structural heart disease
60 months, $4,993,669

Professor Graham Le Gros, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
Immunotherapy of allergic diseases
60 months, $4,999,796

Professor Andrew Mercer, University of Otago, Dunedin
Exploiting the therapeutic potential of viruses
60 months, $4,937,329


Professor Antony Braithwaite, University of Otago, Dunedin
Does the D133p53 isoform promote cancer invasion and metastasis?
36 months, $1,185,648

Associate Professor Alan Davidson, The University of Auckland
Understanding kidney injury and the role of HNF1beta
36 months, $884,664

Associate Professor Alan Davidson, The University of Auckland
Understanding how WT1 and its binding partner WTX cause renal disease
36 months, $1,171,726

Professor David Grattan, University of Otago, Dunedin
Role of kisspeptin in hyperprolactinemia-induced infertility
36 months, $1,164,184

Dr Deborah Hay, The University of Auckland
Adrenomedullin 1 receptor antagonists as novel anti-angiogenic agents
36 months, $1,199,853

Professor Martyn Nash, The University of Auckland
Characterising heart failure with clinical imaging and structure-based modelling
36 months, $1,183,076

Professor Franca Ronchese, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research
Conditioning dendritic cells for allergic immune responses
36 months, $1,199,956

Dr Jeffrey Smaill, The University of Auckland
Novel small molecule therapeutics for treatment of smoking-related lung cancer
36 months, $1,180,810