Boost for Massey Research into Campylobacter

NEW ZEALAND - Eleven research projects led by Massey Unversity staff have been awarded a total of NZ$5.4 million in funding over the next three years from the Marsden Fund administered by the Royal Society. Among the projects to receive finiancial support is one looking into the evolution of Campylobacter.
calendar icon 24 September 2008
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The society today announced $5.4 million in total funding for leading-edge research projects in the sciences, engineering, maths and information sciences, social sciences and humanities, mostly to universities but also to crown research institutes.

Massey was awarded seven Marsden grants and four Fast Start grants, which are designed to support outstanding researchers early in their careers.

Marsden Fund Council chairman, Dr Garth Carnaby, says the funded projects have been thoroughly reviewed internationally and are of excellent quality.

"The fund sits at the discovery end of New Zealand’s research spectrum, allowing our best researchers freedom to explore their own ideas," Dr Carnaby said. "It represents a government investment in the creation of cutting edge knowledge through scholarly research."

Last year, Massey University received eight new research projects led by University staff and four 'Fast Start' projects for emerging researchers, with funding totalling $5.86m over three years.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Warrington, says Marsden grants are awarded in a highly competitive environment and those receiving these prestigious awards can be very proud of their achievements.

"The significant number of grants awarded both to established and to new staff at Massey reflects very well on the continued high standards of research being undertaken at the University," Professor Warrington said.

Grant for Campylobacter Research

Professor Nigel French, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, receives $740,000 for a project entitled Cows, Starlings and Campylobacter in New Zealand: unifying phylogeny and epidemiology to gain insight into pathogen evolution.

The introduction of European wildlife and livestock into New Zealand has provided us with a unique opportunity to study the evolution of a globally important human pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni. Using analytical tools developed by the research team at Massey University and detailed laboratory studies including whole genome sequencing, Professor French says they aim to exploit the newly discovered host specificity of C. jejuni strains and the historical separation of both host and bacterial populations, to improve our understanding of C. jejuni evolution.

"Ultimately we can learn why C. jejuni emerged to become such a prominent pathogen, anticipate further evolution and restrict emergence and spread of new strains," he said.

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