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Otago Biochemistry receives $3.6 million for research into gout, neurodegenerative disease, and new antibiotics

Thursday 27 June 2019 10:19am

HRC project recipients 2019_650

HRC project recipients 2019, from left, Assoc Prof Stephanie Hughes, Prof Kurt Krause, and Prof Tony Merriman.

The Department of Biochemistry is celebrating the results of the 2019 round of Health Research Council (HRC) funding, announced this week by Megan Woods, the minister for Research, Science and Innovation.

Three projects led by principal investigators based in Otago Biochemistry have been awarded funding of about $1.2 million each.

The funding will push forward exciting research at the molecular level that will one day underpin improved treatments in a diverse range of diseases.

Professor Tony Merriman conducts research into a form of arthritis called gout, using computational tools that can trawl through and analyse massive genetic datasets. His team will use data from the genetics of people that have gout to help guide new precision medicine approaches to treat the disease.

Associate Professor Stephanie Hughes’s lab delves into the role of the cellular waste system, lysozomes, in the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. She will lead her team to find out more about how lysosomes work in the glial cells that support neurons, and how defects in this system contribute to disease.

Professor Kurt Krause’s research is rooted in the urgent need to develop new anti-bacterial drugs, as the massive problem of drug-resistant bacteria spreads world-wide. His team will aim to develop a new drug targeting an achilles heel in tuberculosis-causing bacteria: an enzyme called glutamate racemase.

Read about Kurt's research at the Otago Daily Times