This year’s 2019 ‘we’re talking health…’ research talks will once again showcase 10 health researchers from Canterbury and their work. It’s a fascinating line-up and we hope to see you there.
Date: Wednesday 6 March
Venue: Engineering Core, Creyke Rd, University of Canterbury
Born too early – does it matter?
Professor Lianne Woodward – University of Canterbury
More than 4,000 New Zealand babies are born prematurely every year. These infants can spend up to 3 months in neonatal intensive care during a critical period of brain development. As a result, many experience a range of health and developmental challenges that can impact their schooling and emotional wellbeing from infancy to adulthood. Professor Lianne Woodward of the University of Canterbury will explain how an early start to life impacts children’s development and how we can better support the needs of children born prematurely both in hospital and as they grow.
How the physical environment affects our well-being
Professor Simon Kingham – University of Canterbury
Professor Simon Kingham is a geographer who is focusing his research lens on health. Simon and his team at the University of Canterbury’s GeoHealth Laboratory are looking at how where you live, and characteristics of the nearby environment, influence health outcomes. He will explain the concept and tools of GeoHealth and share details on a project to understand how the physical environment, such as proximity to water or ‘blue space’, affects our mental health.
Associate Professor Logan Walker – University of Otago
In the field of cancer, identifying the significance of the cancer-associated genes provides patients with information on increased risk and preventative treatment options. The constant stream of new genetic variations being discovered, however, means there are more questions than answers about what DNA information actually means in the doctor’s clinic. Associate Professor Logan Walker of the University of Otago, Christchurch, is studying the genetics of breast and ovarian cancer. He will share details of his research and his role as the only New Zealander in an international consortium of genetic detectives working to unravel the mysteries of variations in DNA and what they mean for cancer risk.
3d-bioprinting bone, tissue and blood vessels
Dr Khoon Lim – University of Otago
In the past decade, 3D-printing technology has exploded. One area of huge potential is 3D-bioprinting, where living cells are printed into tissue, bone and potentially one day, entire organs. Dr Khoon Lim of the University of Otago, Christchurch, will explain why he and his colleagues are among the best in the world in this emerging field of medicine and about the special ink they have invented and are selling internationally to others trying to print blood vessels, bone and human tissue.
A picture of Parkinson’s disease and dementia
Dr Tracy Melzer – University of Otago
For the past decade, MRI expert Dr Tracy Melzer has scanned the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease and dementia to understand how they differ from people without the incurable conditions. He will share details of what he and his New Zealand Brain Research Institute colleagues have learnt about how cognitive decline appears in brain scans, and the aim of one day being able to predict who will develop the diseases, so they can receive priority treatment.
Who should die of a broken heart?
Dr Paul Bridgman – Canterbury District Health Board
Broken heart syndrome is a relatively rare condition that mimics symptoms of coronary heart disease. After the earthquakes, Christchurch clinicians saw unprecedented clusters of patients presenting with the condition. This spurred cardiologist Dr Paul Bridgman partner with researchers from the University of Otago, Christchurch to investigate the condition, including when it is most deadly, and the role stress plays. Paul will share what he and his collaborators have learnt, and how Canterbury is playing a key role in the way this disease is treated around the world.
Dr Paul T Kelly – Canterbury District Health Board
International research estimates poor sleep can cost a country billions every year in direct financial costs and loss of wellbeing. Our Ministry of Education recommends primary school children should get 9 – 11 hours uninterrupted sleep a night but there is little evidence on the impact of poor sleep on children or how to educate them on its importance. Dr Paul T Kelly from the Canterbury DHB’s sleep clinic will share details of a research project tracking primary school aged children’s sleep patterns.
Crohn’s disease: New approaches to a life-long condition
Professor Andrew Day – Canterbury District Health Board
Steroids are a common treatment for Crohn’s disease, including in children and adolescents with the incurable condition. These drugs can have side effects such as depression, acne and bloating. Professor Andrew Day is a paediatric gastroenterologist studying better treatments that ease the symptoms of Crohn’s and promote gut healing, but avoid the side-effects of those drugs. He will share details of a promising new treatment he and his colleagues are evaluating in Christchurch.
Virtual reality in childbirth
James Hayes – Ara Institute of Canterbury
In 2017 Ara Institute of Canterbury was the first tertiary educator to use virtual reality in its medical imaging curriculum. Ara’s James Hayes is a world-leader in this rapidly emerging field where technology gives students an experience that mimics real life but in a safe and individualised learning environment. James will explain how Ara is leading the way in virtual reality education and talk about his latest project – developing a childbirth virtual reality system for midwives and nurses.
Improving outcomes for Māori with bipolar disorder or psychotic disorders
Dr Cameron Lacey – Maori/Indigenous Health Institute
There is evidence Māori have a higher prevalence of bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders, and have worse outcomes. Dr Cameron Lacey (Te Atiawa) will share how he and his colleagues at the University of Otago’s Māori/Indigenous Health Institute are studying pathways Māori take into the psychiatric service and their experiences once there, with the aim of identifying ways to reduce disparities and improve outcomes.