Medical Research Scholarship

MRS Nomination form

Medical Research Scholarship nominations come from the members. To give some direction on what is required from members when they nominate a research project a nomination form has been developed. Members please use this so your nominations can be considered by the NEC at their meeting in February 2022. Nominations close by  Friday 11 February 2022.

You can download the nomination form here.    

2020-2021 Funding

This was awarded to Research Professor Margreet Vissers from the Pathology and Biomedical Sciences Department of the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Professor Vissers writes, "For the past 15 years we have been focused on understanding the role of vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. In an earlier study in 2000, some novel data suggested that vitamin C may have additional functions that could slow or affect cancer cell growth. This led us to further investigate what is known about this topic. In the process we have uncovered evidence for new mechanisms of action that suggest that vitamin C may have additional functions that could slow or affect cancer cell growth.

Our interest in this area was stimulated by the case of a New Zealand patient with acute myeloid leukemia who showed a remarkable response to vitamin C treatment after failure to respond to two rounds of chemotherapy. High dose intravenous ascorbate treatment resulted in complete remission for over two years. We were able to show that this patient's cancer was caused by mutations in the epigenetic enzymes that need vitamin C. The treatment undertaken by the patient likely resulted in boosting the activity of the remaining normal enzyme in his cancer cells, thereby restoring these cells to normal function. We are advancing this work, setting up a clinical trial to determine which patients with leukemia respond to vitamin C therapy and whether this can improve clinical outcomes in conjunction with current treatments."

2018- 2019 Funding

This was awarded to Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer as the prIncipal investigator and Dr Jinny Yoon an Optic Nerve Research Fellow at the Department of Opthalmology, University of Auckland who were proposing to research Nailfold Capillary Changes in Glaucoma: Novel Biomarker of Disease Progression. Dr Hannah Kersten was involved later in the project and spoke to members about the research at the 98th AGM in Taupo.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in NZ affecting 10% of the population over the age of 70. The site of damage in glaucoma is the optic nerve, at the back of the eye. Causes of damage to the optic nerve remain poorly elucidated. It is recognised that elevated eye pressure is an important risk factor for glaucoma. However, approximately one third of glaucoma patients do not have high eye pressure. Furthermore, glaucoma continues to deteriorate despite treatments that aggressively lower eye pressure.

The aim of the research is to see if nailfold vasculature is a biomarker of glaucoma and can be used to predict those patients who will have very aggressive rapidly deteriorating glaucoma.

If they are able to identify a surrogate biomarker that correlates with the deterioration of glaucoma then treatment can be tapered accordingly: that is treat patients who are likley to deteriorate more aggressively and do not over treat patients who are likely to have milder disease - progressing the goal of personalised treatment in glaucoma management.

2016-2017 Funding

Our Medical Research Scholarship funding for 2016-2017 was awarded to Dr Zubkova at Victoria University of Wellington for research into Alzheimers' Disease, for more information visit

http://www.victoria.ac.nz/news/2016/08/promising-alzheimers-research-takes-a-step-forward

2014-2016 Funding

This scholarship was awarded to the Minds for Minds Charitable Trust at the 93rd AGM/Conference for research into autism.

The trust works in partnership with Autism Research Network New Zealand looking to try and help those families who have a child on the autism spectrum. The network aims to bring together scientists, health professionals, education professionals and the community to facilitate understanding and treatment options for autism.

Dr Taylor heads the study looking at the effect microbial 'communities' have on human health. When these 'communities' are in a state of imbalance, there can be negative consequences. Many recent studies have pointed to a potential link between our gut microbes and neurological disorders, including autism. They are using modern molecular biology techniques to investigate the role, if any, played by gut microbes in the autism spectrum disorders.

A cheque for $15,000 was presented to researcher Dr Mike Taylor on behalf of the Minds for Minds Trust by the then National President Jeanette Andrews.

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