Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Otago's place in the world: Showcasing the international reputation and contribution of Otago's Early Career Researchers

A special parliamentary lecture by Otago's OZONE Group

With special guest Hon Dr David Clarke Minister of Health and Associate Minister Finance.


Dr Anita Dunbier
Developing smarter treatments for cancer

Cancer is New Zealand’s biggest killer and the mortality and morbidity associated with the disease places a considerable burden on the health system, society and the economy. Research in my group aims to both repurpose drugs which have been used for treatment of other diseases and to use molecular biomarkers to make the best use of existing cancer treatments. Firstly, we have explored the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of breast cancer. These drugs, such as aspirin, cost as 2c per dose have in some studies been shown to half the rate of breast cancer recurrence yet are still not widely prescribed. In addition, we have investigated biomarkers to identify patients who are likely to benefit from chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy and examined how these treatments can be rationally combined to produce the best outcomes and be directed towards the patients who need them the most.

Dr Robert Odolinski
Otago-led research set to make smartphones even smarter

The accuracy of the global positioning system (GPS) in smartphones has been significantly improved thanks to research conducted at the University of Otago, New Zealand, in collaboration with Curtin University, Australia. Have you ever noticed that the GPS location on your smartphone isn’t all that smart? For example, your smartphone claims you are in the duck pond when in fact you are on the other side of the park and can’t even see the duck pond? This new research conducted at the University of Otago, and recently published in the international Journal of Geodesy, is about to change that. By combining signals from four different Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSs), Otago’s Dr Robert Odolinski and Curtin University colleague Prof Peter Teunissen, have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve centimetre‐level precise positioning on a smartphone. The significant reduction in costs when using smartphones can increase the number of receivers that can be deployed, which will revolutionize a range of disciplines requiring centimetre‐level positioning, including precise car navigation, surveying, and earth deformation monitoring. This presentation aims to further explain this research, and demonstrate the impact it will have on countries and industries of all sizes.

Dr Logan Walker
Genomic health and cancer: targeting the most vulnerable

Imagine a scenario where a woman aged 35 presents with breast cancer. She is successfully treated. Three years later she returns to hospital with ovarian cancer. Again she is treated but dies 6 months later. How do we prevent such health outcomes and improve the long-term wellbeing of our people? Our ability to understand our genetic makeup is revolutionizing clinical care of patients and their families. It has significant implications for disease treatment and prevention and may have saved the life of the women in the scenario. However, we are still uncovering the huge potential of genetics in health. Our research addresses two major health challenges: 1) How many other patients are like the woman in the scenario, and are missing out on life saving interventions? 2) How do doctors interpret and utilise the growing abundance of genetic information? Partnering with international genetic programs is not only allowing us to accelerate the availability of this health related knowledge, it is enabling us and other New Zealand genetic researchers to take leading roles.

Associate Professor Anitra Carr
The link between vitamin C and infection: a simple fix that could save lives

Severe infections, such as pneumonia, have significant morbidity and can develop into more severe conditions such as sepsis and septic shock, with the hallmark of multiple organ failure and mortality rates of up to 50%, the highest mortality in critically ill patients. We have found that these critically ill patients are severely depleted in vitamin C, a molecule essential to life due to its numerous biosynthetic and regulatory roles in the body. Several recent clinical trials have indicated that administration of low gram doses of vitamin C to these patients can significantly decrease organ failure and mortality (by up to 80%). With funding from an HRC Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship and in collaboration with clinicians from Christchurch and Wellington Hospitals, we have recently initiated the first clinical trial in a NZ ICU to test the efficacy of vitamin C in patients with septic shock. We aim to not only elucidate the underlying mechanisms of action of vitamin C, but to also improve the outcomes of these critically ill patients.

Dr Nic Rawlence
The past is the key to the present and future: evidence-based conservation in a rapidly changing world.

The New Zealand (NZ) government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Predator Free NZ. Birds characterise NZ and it’s also one of the reasons so many people come here each year. Wildlife conservation not only has intrinsic and scientific value but directly affects tourism and the industries associated with it. Wouldn’t it be great to move away from an ecoscantuary model and re-establish wild populations once predator pressure declines. Are national parks going to be suitable habitat given future climate change projections? To answer these questions, the past is the key to the present and future. My research programme is harnessing the power of ancient DNA to see how NZ’s natural taonga responded to past climate change and human impact to help protect the future. It will provide the tools to manage threatened species in a rapidly changing world and a revolutionary, transformative rethink of conservation, in partnership with iwi to help them invest resources and restore their rohi.

Date Tuesday, 30 October 2018
Time 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Audience Public,Alumni
Event Category Research Events
Event Type Special Lecture
Public Lecture
LocationGrand Hall Parliament Buildings
CostFree of charge
Complimentary refreshments
RSVP essential by 25 October

Save this event