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Advances in treatments

Cardiology Research Unit

Stethoscope thumbnailThe Cardiology Research Unit's research involves contributing to multi-centre trials, including trials of new devices for coronary angioplasty, and clinical trials of new drugs for management of heart attacks, cholesterol levels, and arrhythmia.

Local research includes assessment of biomarkers as predictors of coronary stent re-stenosis after implantation.

The Research Unit is also performing a prospective study in patients with aortic valve disease evaluating what genes might be important in the development of narrowed heart valves in older persons.


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Carney Centre for Pharmacogenetics

Blue DNA strand thumbnailPharmacogenomics is the study of how genes influence a patient's responses to drugs. This research area is helping to clarify how genetic differences contribute to the risk of side effects or failure of drug treatment, and how we might better tailor treatment to each patient, leading to improved safety and effectiveness.

The Centre comprises a cluster of interacting research groups at the University of Otago and elsewhere, with a major focus in Christchurch. Together these groups span a wide range of clinical, pharmacological and genetic expertise. We have a strongly collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to pharmacogenomics with current research programmes in:

  • Heart disease
  • Mental disorders, particularly depression and bipolar disorder
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma and airways disease
  • Drugs in breast milk

We use a range of methods including pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies, analysis of genetic variation in relation to drug responses, and genomic or proteomic methods for examining molecular aspects of drug action.


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Centre for Free Radical Research

View of Christchurch city thumbnailWe're advancing health by exploring the biology of free radicals and antioxidants.

We are an internationally-recognised leader in the field of free radical research. We apply basic scientific knowledge to underpin research into the roles of free radicals and antioxidants in human health and disease.

Our mission is to discover how free radicals and antioxidants work inside the body and how this knowledge can be used to diagnose and treat human disease and maintain optimal health.


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Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research (CHARR)

Human figures running thumbnailAlongside our high quality postgraduate and research programmes, research at the School of Physiotherapy is managed through our dedicated Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research. Research and knowledge transfer are integral parts of the School of Physiotherapy's activities.

Research project areas:

  • Physical Activity and Health
  • Healthy Ageing
  • Sports Concussion and Injury Prevention
  • Clinical Biomechanics and Medical Technologies


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Centre for Health Systems and Technology

A matrix of white connected dots on blue ground thumbnailThe Centre for Health Systems and Technology (CHeST) has a particular focus on the applied end of health system and technology research, supporting the translation of research into practice.

CHeST features five core themes:

  • Health Care Delivery
  • Health System Architecture, Management, and Performance
  • Health Quality, Safety, and Community Engagement
  • Health Workforce
  • Health Technology


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Centre for Translational Research

Bundle of electrodes thumbnailThe Centre for Translational Research (CTR) is a central research facility at the University of Otago, Wellington. It is designed to forge world-class research programmes that will accelerate the transfer of clinically-relevant scientific knowledge.

Translation of non-clinical research that results in real world clinical applications is a major challenge for biomedical researchers. With increasing sub-specialisation in both medical and basic biomedical disciplines, such knowledge transfer can become fragmented unless concerted efforts are made to promote their integration. A hallmark of those involved in the CTR is a willingness to collaborate on projects which utilise both scientific and clinical expertise. This is in recognition of the importance we believe translational research provides in generating answers to clinical problems.

The following topics are of particular interest:

  • Energy and metabolism
  • Neurocritical care
  • Cardiovascular genetics
  • Exercise and environmental physiology
  • Clinical physiology and biomedical engineering
  • Paediatrics
  • Acute and chronic airways disease
  • Sleep medicine


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Christchurch Heart Institute

Clinic thumbnailHere at the Christchurch Heart Institute we help save thousands of lives through research into improved diagnosis, better prediction and advanced treatments for heart disease. Our team of internationally-renowned experts directly play a role in increasing the survival of New Zealanders with heart disease.
Our research is focused on:

  • New blood tests for heart attack diagnosis and prognosis
  • Using new methods for treating heart failure and improving outcomes
  • Understanding the genetics of heart disease; why heart disease runs in some families


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D4 Network

Green capsules thumbnailD4—Diagnostics, Drugs, Devices and Discovery focuses on translational research for improving care via:

  • Creating novel point-of-care diagnostics and devices enabling targeted and selective treatments
  • Developing smart drug delivery systems and devices to improve and optimise therapy
  • Drug discovery for innovative treatments

The network draws together the disciplines of bioengineering, pharmaceutical science and drug discovery with an emphasis on collaborating with commerce and industry.


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Genetics Otago

DNA model thumbnailGenetics lies at the root of many human diseases. At Genetics Otago, we have a remarkable breadth of human genetics research studying both complex and single-gene diseases. As an example, researchers at the Cancer Genetics Laboratory are world-leaders in their field.

Our human developmental disease research provides an insight into how human embryos work, and how that is related to human health. We study both the genetics and epigenetics of human development and cell division.

Pharmocogenomics is another major area of research—this is a modern approach to understanding the side-effects of, and sensitivities to, drug treatments—by analysing the effect of a person's genes on their response to drugs.


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Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge

A person being served food outside with a marae in the background imageThe Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge is a national research collaboration dedicated to achieving healthier lives for all New Zealanders.

It undertakes collaborative research aimed at equitably improving the prevention and treatment of four major non-communicable diseases:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Our vision

He Oranga Hauora kitenga

Aotearoa hei whenua he ōrite ngā putanga hua hauora mō te tangata, kia iti iho hoki ngā pīkauranga o ngā māuiui kāore e taea te tuku ki te tangata kē.

Healthier Lives vision

New Zealand with equitable health outcomes and a substantially reduced burden of non-communicable diseases.

Many factors impact on the health of New Zealanders, including systems that affect the whole population, cultural factors that relate to particular communities, and the genetic make-up and life experiences of individuals.

Healthier Lives’ research is therefore focussed within three themes:

  1. Healthy food and physical activity environments
  2. Culturally centred health interventions for Māori and Pacific peoples
  3. Precision medicine and personalised prevention


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Heart Otago

heart tissue thumbHeart Otago is comprised of cardiovascular researchers and clinicians located at the University of Otago and Dunedin Hospital. The goal of the group is to expand upon traditional cell and animal models to better understand the molecular nature of cardiac disease in patients with heart disease and to translate the laboratory-based cardiovascular research into the clinical setting.

The strong link between fundamental researchers and clinicians allows the group to study cardiac disease from genetic mutations within a single protein, through tissue and animal models, to patients presenting with a range of cardiac anomalies.

Investigations involve a wide range of techniques including:

  • Electrophysiology
  • Cell imaging
  • Genetic and biomarker screening
  • Multicellular human tissue and whole animal heart function measurements
  • Human and animal in vivo cardiac function via echocardiography


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Long-term condition management research

View of Christchurch city thumbnailThe focus of this research group, in the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing, is the development of evidence-based healthcare to minimise the impact of chronic health needs on people’s lives. Research explores symptom experience, risk assessment, preventative care and symptom control issues, with particular emphasis on the enhancement of patient self-management strategies.


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Otago Genomics Facility

Genomics dna strand thumbnailWe provide expertise and sequencing resources to New Zealand researchers and industry including:

  • Project design and advice
  • Illumina HiSeq sequencing
  • Illumina MiSeq sequencing
  • Nanostring nCounter Analysis System

The Otago Genomics Facility is an Illumina Propel-certified service provider for Illumina HiSeq 2500 and MiSeq sequencing platforms, and is also a Nanostring nCounter Analysis System core facility.


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Otago Micro and Nanoscale Imaging (OMNI)

red connected spheres on ablue background thumbnailFour well-established and highly respected research-expertise providers have joined together under one umbrella to offer:

All the expertise, highly sophisticated instrumentation, and stellar support remains in place, as do the existing locations of services on our Dunedin campus.

The four units have collaborated on a new website as a central repository of their capabilities and achievements.

For all you need to know about what can be offered, who can help, what services, training, and specialist expertise and advice is available, please contact us.


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Otago Vascular Diagnostics

Scanning equipment thumbnailWe are a team of vascular surgeons, technologists and research staff using various diagnostic investigations to research the causes and management of vascular conditions.

The unit provides clinical diagnostic services to the Southern District Health Board, and to the wider community, to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases such as:

  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Varicose veins and venous ulcer

Our services include:

  • Medical imaging using ultrasound to capture real-time images of blood vessels and blood flow
  • Physiological testing to measure how well the vascular system is functioning both during exercise and at rest
  • Treatment of varicose veins and vascular malformations using endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and sclerotherapy

The unit is part of the Vascular Research Group and works closely with other research groups at local, national and international levels.


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Pharmacology and Toxicology

Orange DNA strandResearch at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology uses state-of-the-art technologies, including the use of in-vivo disease models, to undertake integrative, cellular and molecular investigations aimed at understanding animal and human pathophysiology (and to delineate targets for novel drugs).

Academic and research-support staff of the Department are engaged in high quality, internationally-recognised research focused on the following themes:

  • Cancer Research
  • Cannabionids and Neuropathic Pain Research
  • Cardiorenal and Diabetes Research
  • Free Radical Research
  • Neuroscience Research
  • Neurotoxins / Seizures / Stroke Research
  • Seizures / SUDEP / Stroke Research
  • Stroke
  • Vestibular and Auditory Research


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Green capsules thumbnailThe School of Pharmacy has a very active research programme with disciplines ranging from science to humanities.

We have three main research areas:

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences: drug discovery, drug metabolism and drug action to extend the range of drugs available and to provide a scientific basis for the quality use of medicines and bioactive substances.
  • Clinical Pharmacy: concerned with patient care and the optimisation of medicine use in order to promote health and wellness, and prevent disease.
  • Social Pharmacy: our research focuses mainly on access to, and use of medicines.


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Research Infrastructure Centre

Blue human anatomical model thumbOur Research Infrastructure Centre offers specialist expertise, technology and facilities in protein research, genomics, imaging, and biomedical research.

We support optimum design and analysis of your research, and provide skill development opportunities.

Our academic leadership is of the highest calibre and we have extensively experienced and skilled staff.

Our services are available to researchers in institutions, industry, government and private companies.


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Research in Pharmacoepidemiology (RIPE)

Green capsules thumbnailThe RIPE group uses real-world data to evaluate health outcomes at a population level. The group covers a broad scope of research investigating:

  • Drug utilisation
  • Prescribing trends
  • Prescription adherence
  • Guidelines adherence
  • Comparative effectiveness

Our researchers are keen in adopting initiatives to advance pharmacoepidemiological research.

Our research group is adept at using propensity score matching, marginal structural models, and disease scores risks.


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Search the Health Sciences Expertise Database

Blue human anatomical figures thumbnailThe Division of Health Sciences benefits from its high calibre of staff and their wide range of skills and research expertise.

Our Staff Expertise Database provides details on University of Otago, Health Sciences staff. Each staff profile provides information on qualifications, current academic position, contact details, and a summary of research and publications.

You can search our database by keyword (eg cardiovascular) or by name.

Health Sciences expertise database

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Sport and Exercise Medicine

Stethoscope thumbnailSport and Exercise Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, is the study of all human movement, injury prevention, exercise prescription, rehabilitation, and performance enhancement through nutrition, biomechanics and improved cardiorespiratory efficiency.

The prime object of this programme is to provide practising health professionals with current information on Sport and Exercise Medicine from acknowledged academic and clinical staff.


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Stroke medicine

StethoscopeElevated blood pressure is the strongest risk factor for stroke. It is uncertain whether lowering blood pressure in the first week after a stroke will improve or worsen clinical outcomes. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator for both cerebral and systemic blood vessels. Nitric oxide also possesses anti-apoptotic properties and directly modulates neural function.

Our trial The Efficacy of Nitric Oxide in Stroke (ENOS) has enrolled over 3,800 patients worldwide in an effort to elucidate the best way to treat hypertension in the first week after a stroke. ENOS also hopes to determine whether nitric oxide treatment will provide a clinically significant improvement in patient function 90 days post stroke.


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Stroke neurology

Anna Ranta thumbnailProfessor Anna Ranta’s research focuses on stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) epidemiology and service delivery optimisation, service integration, health equity, and knowledge translation.  She is currently a stroke neurologist with Capital Coast DHB alongside her senior lecturer role with University of Otago, Wellington.

Current projects include:

  • Analysis of the NZ Stroke thrombolysis register
  • Assessing an atrial fibrillation electronic decision-support tool (HRC project with cardiologist Professor Ralph Stewart)
  • Assessing motivational interviews post-stroke (HRC Take Charge Study)
  • Assessing TIA / stroke electronic decision support in primary care including the use of TIA scores (HRC FASTEST trial)
  • Evaluating NZ Telestroke pilot (MOH)
  • TIA incidence in greater Auckland (ARCOS IV)
  • Triple antiplatelet therapy in secondary prevention of stroke (International TARDIS trial)


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Vascular, Endovascular, and Transplant Surgery (VETS)

View of Christchurch city thumbnailMembers are engaged in clinical and laboratory-based research in collaboration with established research groups at University of Otago, Christchurch, and the University of Canterbury.

Clinical research themes include:

  • Prioritisation for surgery
  • Vascular audit and continuous quality improvement
  • Clinical decision modelling in vascular surgery (focused around abdominal aortic aneurysm)
  • Wound management (in collaboration with Nurse Maude)

Our research includes collaborations with the University of Canterbury Centre for Bioengineering and Biological Sciences (The Growth Dynamics of Atherosclerotic Plaque) and the Angiogenesis Research Group (University of Otago, Christchurch) and the Department of Plastic Surgery (Skin cancers in renal transplant recipients).


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Wellington Cardiovascular Research Group

Boat in Wellington harbour thumbnailCardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death, and a significant cause or morbidity in the western world. The Wellington Cardiovascular Research Group undertakes basic science projects, translational research and clinical research into ischaemic heart disease, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia.

Our current areas of research interest include:

  • Platelet reactivity and inflammation in ischaemic heart disease
  • Technical aspects of interventional cardiology
  • Mechanisms of ventricular arrhythmia
  • Provision of implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy
  • Applications of novel imaging techniques to aid in diagnostic processes
  • Scoring tools for risk stratification in cardiac disease


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