The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) this week announced recipients of its Science Whitinga Fellowship. Congratulations to Dr Steven Cui who was awarded the Fellowship, including two years funding in support of his research.
Dr Cui was delighted to learn of his award. “This is a great opportunity that allows me to build my research niche in cardiac tissue regeneration and develop a cardiac tissue engineering research programme in Aotearoa.” Cui sees the Fellowship as making an important contribution to his aspiration to deliver 'bench to beside' translation of his research. “This will help me strengthen my national and international collaborations, and build on my existing relationships with commercial partners, so that together we can eventually offer more options for New Zealanders and whānau impacted by heart disease.” He notes how well his research aligns with New Zealand's Vision Mātauranga to improve health wellbeing of Māori, who have a higher mortality rate from heart disease.
Dr Cui is researching a novel treatment for myocardial infarction (heart attack) which uses a cellular strategy, namely exosomes (secretions from stem cells), and combines them with a minimally invasive surgical approach. He is currently developing and validating pre-clinical models of the therapy which can be used for patients who miss the short window for percutaneous coronary intervention and therefore need to prevent further development of heart failure.
The Fellowship is a one-off opportunity aimed to support the development of talented early career researchers and to retain them in New Zealand. It's offered in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic and its major impact on the world economy, which is likely to have long-term adverse impacts on the Research, Science and Innovation workforce if mitigations are not implemented.
MBIE, on its website, notes that the Fellowship intends to support up and coming researchers to rise and establish a career in their chosen field. This is captured in the name of the Fellowship 'Te whitinga mai o te rā', which can translate to “the rising of the sun”.