University of Otago researchers are intricately involved in a number of the National Science Challenges.
The National Science Challenges are cross-disciplinary, scientist-led programmes designed to tackle the biggest science-based challenges New Zealand has. They provide an opportunity for collaboration between researchers from universities and other academic institutions, Crown Research Institutes, businesses and non-government organisations to create sustainable and long-term research plans and activities.
The University hosts both the Ageing Well National Science Challenge and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge. Directors Professors David Baxter and Jim Mann respectively lead the teams of investigators based throughout New Zealand.
Otago researchers are also in key roles in A Better Start, and High Value Nutrition.
The mission of Ageing Well is to push back disability thresholds to enable all New Zealanders to reach their full potential through the life course with particular reference to the latter years of life.
The Ageing Well Challenge plans to create New Zealand-specific interventions, technology, policy and environments that support active ageing.
The World Health Organisation defines active ageing as the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. Appropriate housing, food, and health and social services are an essential part of this.
The Challenge has identified five research strands that will build the evidence base for the policies, technologies and interventions that are needed to achieve active ageing:
- Maintain wellness, independence and autonomy
- Promote social integration and engagement
- Value older people in all settings
- Reduce disability and the impact of disability
- Enhance age-friendly environments
The Healthier Lives National Science Challenge is a national research collaboration dedicated to achieving healthier lives for all New Zealanders.
We are working on the prevention and treatment of four of New Zealand's main non-communicable diseases:
- Cardiovascular disease
Our mission is to deliver the right prevention to the right population and the right treatment to the right patient. We plan to do this in partnership with stakeholders and communities by generating world class research, and translating our research findings into innovative health policy, practice, and technology, designed for New Zealand's unique communities.
Five high-level research programmes have been identified as priorities:
- Personalised prevention through new technologies
- Minimally invasive markers for effective cancer diagnosis and treatment
- Enhanced CVD and diabetes risk reduction
- Delivering culturally centred health initiatives
- Slowing progression of prediabetes to diabetes
Our children are our future, we want to give them the best possible start in life.
Getting a good start includes being a healthy weight, learning successfully and being mentally well. That's what all families, whānau and communities want for their tamariki. But obesity, learning and mental health are challenges for some children. A Better Start is the National Science Challenge working to help them.
Our mission is to find better ways to predict, prevent and treat obesity, learning and mental health problems in children and teenagers.
Our job is to make science work for people.
We believe we can do that only when we work with communities, and draw together indigenous and Western approaches to science.