Newsletter #4                                    February 2017
Director’s welcome

Kia ora koutou katoa 
A warm welcome to the first Healthier Lives newsletter for 2017. 

Director Jim MannThe Healthier Lives Challenge had a busy and productive year in 2016. Along with our  five major research projects getting underway, we had the launch of the Long Term Conditions contestable funding round in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council – a really significant boost in funding for translational health research – as well as our first Kōrero Tahi to extend the conversation between researchers and stakeholders.
2017 looks set to be even busier and I’m pleased that we can start with some very positive news about the outcome of the Long Term Conditions contestable funding round. I’d also like to let you know about two upcoming events in Auckland next month, which are already filling up fast.  I very much hope that some of you will be able to come along to these to continue a dialogue about how we can accelerate the pace towards our goal of reducing both the burden and the inequities of non-communicable disease in New Zealand
Breaking news: announcement of successful projects in Long Term Conditions funding round

The Hon Paul Goldsmith, Minister for Science and Innovation, and the Hon Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health, today jointly announced three successful research projects in the Long Term Conditions contestable funding round. All three projects focus on the prevention and management of diabetes, a significant and complex long-term condition.  Reducing the progression of pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is a major priority for Healthier Lives as well as for the Ministry of Health’s “living well with diabetes” strategy.

The three successful projects are:
  • Preventing type 2 diabetes with probiotics and prebiotics (PDP2) led by Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs, University of Otago, Wellington - a study to see if probiotic supplements and prebiotics can improve glucose and fat levels in the blood of people with pre-diabetes.
  • Mana Tū: a whānau ora approach to long-term conditions, led by Dr Matire Harwood, (Ngāpuhi), National Hauora Coalition, aims to improve the impact of clinical and lifestyle interventions for those living with pre-diabetes and people with poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Innovative management of diabetes with a comprehensive digital health programme, led by Professor Diana Sarfati University of Otago, Wellington. This project will assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of a digital programme that supports prevention and self-management of pre-diabetes and diabetes.
To see the press releases, please click here.


Register now for two upcoming events
Healthier Lives is delighted to be joining forces with A Better Start National Science Challenge  and the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre and to host two major public events in Auckland this March. 
Places are strictly limited and filling fast – please register now if you would like to attend either or both events.


The Diabesity Crisis research symposium
Friday, 17 March 2017
9am-5pm, Clinical Education Centre, Auckland DHB

Diabetes and obesity are on the rise worldwide.  We are facing a societal crisis of serious proportions.  It is therefore very timely to look at the latest research and interventions that can make a real difference.
With a stellar line up of speakers from NZ, Australia and the UK, this research symposium will be of interest to all those involved in research, policy making, health delivery and working with communities. 
For more information and to register please click here.


The ‘cost’ of sugar public forum
Thursday, 16 March 2017
7-9pm, Clinical Education Centre, Auckland DHB

Renowned broadcaster, Kim Hill, will chair a panel of experts and seek audience participation to tease out the complexities of what is increasingly becoming a very hot topic – the ‘cost’ of sugar to our society. 
This evening forum, is free and open to all interested members of the public, and will examine not only the ‘health costs’ of sugar but also the wider economic role that sugar plays.  Researchers will look at the evidence base for a number of contentious questions, such as how much does sugar consumption contribute to the diabesity epidemic and what difference would a tax on sugar make?
This promises to be a lively and informative evening, and I hope to see some of you there.  For more information and to register please click here.

Healthier Lives 2016 Kōrero Tahi

Healthier Lives held its inaugural Kōrero Tahi in Wellington on Tuesday 18 October 2016.  This was our first opportunity to present Healthier Lives research-in-progress to a broad audience of stakeholders. 
We were fortunate to hear from a number of eminent speakers, presenting a variety of perspectives on NCDs, which expanded our understanding.  Prof John Potter, Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Health, outlined the latest information from the Ministry’s Global Burden of Disease Study, detailing the current trends and scale of the NCD burden in this country.  Andrew Sporle (Ngati Apa, Rangitane, Te Rarawa) reminded us that we need to be careful in our response if we are not to increase the existing inequities in health outcomes.  And Prof Robert Beaglehole brought the daunting statistics back to a very human level when he asked us all to think about the people we each know whose lives have been affected by NCDs. 
A highlight of the day was the launch of the
Te Mata Ira Guidelines for Genomic Research with Māori.  The guidelines were well received and look set to be a very useful resource for genomic researchers. Many people were moved by the blessing ceremony for these guidelines performed by Toa Waaka (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Koata, Ngāpuhi, Hauraki), which reminded us to be thankful for the hard work that goes into the production of knowledge.
Sobering as many of the talks were, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and, judging from the questioning of speakers and the animated conversations at break times, so did many others. 

For more information and to view videos of the presentations please click here.
Project Activate: Unlocking Curious Minds about science for good health

Healthier Lives has teamed up with the New Zealand International Science Festival and a host of other willing collaborators to run a pilot programme for intermediate aged school children, focussing on learning about the science behind good health.  Funding from Unlocking Curious Minds and generous in-kind support from all the contributors led to a week-long school holiday programme in July 2016.
The first Project Activate was run in conjunction with the Pacific Trust Otago, and culminated at the Trust’s annual sports day.  Twelve children from the Pasifika community participated and their families also shared in the learning. 
We’ve made a film about Project Activate, which we hope will encourage others to consider running similar programmes in their communities.  It isn’t necessary to have all the resources of the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic on hand – a school kitchen and gymnasium would suffice.  If you are interested in running your own programme please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

To find out more about Project Activate and watch the film (6 minutes, 43 seconds), please click here.
Nāku, nā

Jim Mann
Director, Healthier Lives National Science Challenge

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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.
Copyright © 2017 Healthier Lives - He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge, All rights reserved.

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