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Newsletter #11                               February 2018
Contents:
Tēnā koutou katoa and happy new year. 
 
A major focus for all National Science Challenges in 2018 is to evaluate our progress so far and develop a research strategy for the next five year funding period. Healthier Lives is working closely with our partners and stakeholders to determine research priorities that will deliver the greatest impact in improving the health of New Zealanders and increasing equitable health outcomes across our population.
Consultation on research priorities: 2019-2024
We recently held discussions with the Whānau Ora Iwi Leaders Group and representatives from our key stakeholders (including the Ministry of Health, Heart Foundation NZ, Toi Tangata, Cancer Society, Diabetes NZ, the Public Health Association and the NZ Society for the Study of Diabetes) about the direction our research should take in the next five year funding period.
 
Alongside these discussions we ran a public consultation to seek input from everyone interested in having a say about our future research priorities. 127 people responded to the survey, providing a wealth of suggestions. 
 
We’re extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to let us know their views.
 
Emerging themes
Prioritising how to spend public funds is a big responsibility. We recognise that it won’t be possible to incorporate all the good suggestions we have received. However, some consistent themes are emerging from both the discussions and survey responses. As well as ensuring that we undertake excellent science, it’s clear we need to prioritise:
  • research that identifies the barriers and enablers to achieving greater equity in health outcomes, particularly for Māori and Pacific Peoples but also for people with low socio- economic status and those living in remote and rural areas;
  • research on methods of preventing lifestyle-related diseases that will work for our population (with particular focus on obesity, which is an important underlying factor in several other diseases);
  • research that has a clear pathway to implementation.
 
What’s next?
Our Science Leadership Team and International Science Advisory Panel (see next item) will be assisting the Healthier Lives Governance Group and Kāhui Māori to finalise our future research strategy.  Considering the results of our consultation will play an important part in their deliberations.
An international lens on Healthier Lives science
The Healthier Lives International Science Panel will visit New Zealand in late February to review the progress of our research to date and advise on future research directions.  The Panel is comprised of six eminent scientists from the USA, Canada, UK and Australia, each of whom is distinguished in their own field of research.
 
Whilst in New Zealand, Panel members will review the progress of all Healthier Lives research teams and discuss their findings with the Healthier Lives Governance Group and Kāhui Māori.
 
Two Panel members ‒ Professor Jeff Reading and Professor Nick Wareham ‒ will give a public lecture in Dunedin on Friday 23 February entitled: ‘The global effort to tackle obesity and diabetes. Lessons from population approaches in Canada and the UK.’  (see notice in Upcoming Events

Read more about the Science Advisory Panel members on our website.
Spotlight on research: He Pikinga Waiora
Some Healthier Lives’ research projects have now been underway for almost two years while others have started much more recently. We will profile a research project in each issue of our newsletter to explore why the research is needed and what it aims to achieve.

In this issue, we turn the spotlight on a unique research project, He Pikinga Waiora, which aims to find better ways of creating effective health interventions for Māori communities who continue to suffer from poorer health, particularly in the area of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
He Pikinga Waiora group

Framework puts community at core of achieving health equity
Inequity is a problem in today’s health system. Why do some communities – notably Māori and Pacific Peoples – have far worse access to health care and worse health outcomes than others in Aotearoa – and how can we fix this?

Read this story about He Pikinga Waiora on our website.
In the news
Food4Health cereal
Exciting research on the microbiome
The Food4Health* research project, led by Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs from the University of Otago, has recently featured in two news media articles about the gut microbiome.

An article in Stuff explains how this study is investigating whether probiotics can help fight high blood sugar levels and prevent type 2 diabetes.
Read this article at Stuff.co.nz.

A second article in the New Zealand Herald mentions this research project in the context of recent discoveries about how gut bacteria affect our health.
Read this article at NZHerald.co.nz.

*Food4Health is co-funded by the Ministry of Health, the Health Research Council of NZ and Healthier Lives under the Long Term Conditions Partnership.
Prof Parry Guilford in lab
Cancer research made simple

Professor Parry Guilford was interviewed about his research team’s work to introduce a new type of cancer blood test into the New Zealand healthcare system in the New Zealand Herald’s ‘Science made Simple’ summer series.


Read the interview with the New Zealand Herald here.

smart phone being used
Healthy lifestyle study launched for Māori

Toi Tangata and Healthier Lives recently launched a large-scale community trial a healthy lifestyle support tool co-designed by Māori. Consisting of a smartphone app and supporting website, will allow users to set goals and invite whānau and friends to join them on their journey. The tool and a similar one tailored for Pasifika communities have been developed in partnership with communities in the OL@-OR@ research project. NZ Doctor online reported this recent milestone here and explained more about this innovative research.

Find out more on the new OL@-OR@ website.

Prof Vicky Cameron
Paramedic signs up for ground breaking study

Professor Vicky Cameron, who leads a Healthier Lives Equitable cardiovascular and diabetes risk prediction study, was interviewed when a paramedic who recently suffered a heart attack signed up to join her study. 

Read this story at Stuff.co.nz.

Congratulations
We warmly congratulate the talented members of the Healthier Lives team recently honoured for their ground-breaking research as well as for translating, communicating and extending the reach of science:
Donna Matahaere-Atariki
Donna Matahaere-Atariki, (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Ruanui, Nga Rauru, Te Atiawa) was appointed a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the recent New Year’s Honours List 2018 in recognition of services to Māori and health.  We greatly value Donna’s contribution as a member of He Oranga Hauora Kāhui Māori.
Dr Ofa Dewes
Dr Ofa Dewes, University of Auckland, has recently been appointed Chair of the Pacific Health Research Committee of the Health Research Council of NZ after serving on the committee for a year.  Dr Dewes is a founding member of the Healthier Lives Science Leadership team.
 
Dianne Sika-Paotonu
Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, University of Otago - Wellington, has been appointed as a new member of the Pacific Health Research Committee of the Health Research Council of New Zealand. She is an Associate Investigator on the Healthier Lives Biomarkers for Cancer Detection research project.
 
Upcoming Events

2018 Public Health Summer School
7-28 February 2018
University of Otago, Wellington

The Public Health Summer School offers 32 practical 1–4 day courses, open to anyone who wants to develop their knowledge and skills. Hosted on the University of Otago, Wellington campus, this includes many opportunities to improve research skills and update knowledge on topical issues.
View more information here.
View the schedule for free public talks in Wellington.


Indigenous people and cancer
A shared agenda for Aotearoa, Australia and Pacific nations
19-20 February 2018
University of Otago, Wellington
View the programme and register here.


The global effort to tackle obesity and diabetes
Lessons from population approaches in Canada and the UK
23 February 2018
3.30pm – 5.00pm, Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Free public lecture – all welcome
RSVP: diabetes@otago.ac.nz

The Minister of Health, Hon Dr David Clark, will open this free public lecture by two eminent visiting researchers.  Professor Jeff Reading (Canada) and Professor Nick Wareham (UK) will present international research on obesity and diabetes, including gene-environment interactions, social determinants, strategies for prevention, and life-course approaches within indigenous communities.
View more information about this event here
.

This event is jointly sponsored by the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.
To receive Healthier Lives updates directly please subscribe here.

To forward this newsletter on please click here.
Healthier Lives - He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge is hosted by the University of Otago and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Challenge partners are AgResearch, Auckland University of Technology, ESR, Malaghan Institute, Massey University, University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, and University of Waikato.
www.healthierlives.co.nz
healthier.lives@otago.ac.nz
@healthierNZ
Copyright © 2018 Healthier Lives - He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge, All rights reserved.


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