Auckland Academic Health Alliance Collaborative Research Grants

03 November 2017

Auckland Academic Health Alliance Collaborative Research Grants

Dr Margaret Wilsher and Professor John Fraser are pleased to announce the 2017 Auckland Academic Health Alliance Collaborative Research Grant round.

The five University and DHB jointly-led projects are awarded more than $340,000 to foster research relationships that promise enhancements in prevention, diagnosis and therapies.

The Alliance was created to develop and foster these relationships and we have robust expectations that the following projects will not only advance clinical science, but also demonstrate just how directly it can create very tangible patient benefits in our health system.

The researchers and grants are:

  • Dr Shuan Dai and Professor Steven Dakin - $85,000 to investigate developing a rapid, objective and automated means of measuring misalignment of the eyes. Misalignment is one of the main causes of amblyopia or ‘lazy eye’, which affects 3 per cent of children.
  • Dr Sheridan Wilson and Dr Annette Lasham - $60,000 to investigate monitoring of plasma RNA levels during chemotherapy treatment for metastatic breast cancer. This project is expected to generate data that will inform the development of a larger validation trial. It will add to a growing body of research exploring blood-based nucleic acids as early and accurate biomarkers of response during treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
  • Dr Arend Merrie and Associate Professor Gregory O’Grady - $42,500 for a double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a novel intervention (prucalopride) to prevent post-operative ileus after elective colectomy. Reducing ileus improves patient experience and shortens the hospital stay for patients undergoing this surgery.
  • Dr Giuseppe Sasso and Dr Beau Pontre - $85,000 for developing a non-invasive treatment alternative for atrial fibrillation (AF). The proposed alternative is cardiac radiotherapy with real-time magnetic resonance imaging target-tracking. AF is the most common sustained cardiac rhythm disorder - affecting 2.5 - 4% of adults. It is associated with a twofold increase in mortality compared to people with a normal heart rhythm.
  • Dr Lalit Kalra and Associate Professor Cathy Stinear - $70,000 for ‘TWIST’, a prospective, single-site, assessor-blind, observational study to validate the ‘Time to Walk Independently after Stroke’ algorithm. Stroke is a common cause of adult disability, and being able to walk independently is an important rehabilitation goal. The study will provide an opportunity for a physiotherapist to complete a Master’s degree, building Allied Health research capacity within Auckland DHB.

The A+ Trust, Auckland DHB and the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences jointly award these funds. You can find out more about the funding here and the trust at  Congratulations to these researchers for their most impressive proposals and well-deserved grants.




For more information please contact the Auckland Academic Health Alliance (AAHA) partners:

Auckland DHB: Senior Communications Advisor Mark Fenwick 021 366 664. University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences: Strategic Projects Manager Megan Putterill 021 757 137.  See the AAHA website for more on the alliance: