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Tyla 3MT winner Otago finals image

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie presents University of Otago Three Minute Thesis Grand Final Doctoral winner Tyla Alexander with her certificate.

Migraines are more than a bad headache says the Doctoral winner of this year’s Three Minute Thesis Grand Final (3MT®).

At the final, held earlier this month, PhD candidate Tyla Alexander, from the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, spoke about how migraines are “like a home invasion” – personal and traumatic.

She explained how some new migraine drugs worked, why some of these are not effective in all patients, and why it’s important to understand this.

“After attending a migraine support group meeting, I got to truly understand how impacting and even debilitating migraine can be in some people’s lives.”

She says she was “quite shocked” to hear she’d won the Doctoral category after coming second in the first round of the competition, but was “elated” to hear that people saw the value in the research and the validity of these patients’ experiences.

Hwei 3MT runner up doctoral image

Three Minute Thesis Grand Final Doctoral runner-up Hwei Ng.

The runner-up in the Doctoral category, Hwei Ng, shared Alexander’s passion for patient care, having travelled from the Department of Medicine at the University’s Christchurch campus to present her research on unique grain fibre bread for gut health.

Ng presented a commercially viable option for improving bowel health by including a unique grain fibre into the production of bread.

She explains that half of the New Zealand population doesn’t consume adequate dietary fibre, which could be the cause of various common ailments, from constipation through to low gut immunity and even mental health issues.

Incorporating fibre into a staple food such as bread, which is versatile, affordable, and consumed by a variety of communities, can be a simple and accessible solution to bettering health outcomes in Aotearoa, she says.

3MT all judges and competitors

All of the judges and participants present at the 2023 Grand Final Three Minute Thesis competition

“Over a period of 28 days, we investigated how using this unique grain fibre in bread affects the health of over sixty participants, a subset of participants even ingested a gas-sensing capsule so we could analyse the gases produced by the gut bacteria.

“Once we have analysed all the data, this can provide fantastic insights into the benefits of incorporating unique grain fibre bread into people's diets; insights I hope can empower both the public health system and the food industry.”

Taking part in the competition was meaningful for Ng, as she felt privileged to be awarded the runner-up prize as a representative of the Christchurch campus.

“It's a wonderful feeling to share your passion for healthcare with others and I would encourage other students, especially those from other campus’, to take part in future 3MT® competitions.”

3MT Ian and Finn image

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie, left, presents Three Minute Thesis Grand Final Peoples' Choice winner Ian Herbert, middle, with his certificate, while on the right is Master's winner Finn Dobbie.

3MT® winners 2023:

  • Doctoral Winner - Tyla Alexander, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Wins $750 study grant and opportunity to compete in the Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition and Matariki Network of Universities 3MT Competition.
  • Doctoral Runner-up - Hwei Min Ng, Department of Medicine at the Christchurch campus. Wins $250 study grant and opportunity to compete in the Matariki Network of Universities 3MT® Competition.
  • Master’s Winner - Finn Dobbie, Genetics Mātai Ira Teaching Programme. Wins $500 study grant and opportunity to compete in the New Zealand Universities 3MT® Master’s Competition.
  • People’s Choice Winner - Ian Herbert, Otago Business School. Wins $250 study grant.

Kōrero by the Division of Health Sciences Communications Adviser, Kelsey Schutte.

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