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First symposium for Gut Health Network

Pacific graduate

Wednesday 30 May 2012 4:32pm

Hands on stomach©

A variety of medical disorders which all appear to originate in the gut will be the focus of the first annual symposium of the recently formed Gut Health Network which take places at the University of Otago this Friday.

The network was launched in September 2011 to promote an interdisciplinary approach to research into gut-related diseases. It was officially recognised as a Research Theme of the University of Otago in February.

Director Dr Michael Schultz, a gastroenterologist and senior lecturer, says the network’s key area of interest is the overlap of several autoimmune disorders that seem to originate in and/or affect the gut, including type 1 diabetes mellitus, spondyloarthritis, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer.

“We don’t start with the disease; that might be too late. We turn it around and start looking where the disease might originate. In our case that means considering the gut as the main organ where these diseases stem from,” he says.

“The lack of knowledge of the interactions between genetic influences and various host or environmental factors demands a multidisciplinary approach. The Gut Health Network provides this. It involves researchers, clinicians, scientific advisors, consumer groups and representatives from key pharmaceutical industries. All will be represented at Friday’s one-day symposium.”

The programme will include presentations from a number of University of Otago researchers, collaborators from further afield, pharmaceutical industry representatives, and research students.

“The sharing of knowledge, expertise and resources is one of the key features of the network,” says Dr Schultz.

Rheumatologists, endocrinologists and gastroenterologists from the Network provide patient cohorts, while immunologists, microbiologists, geneticists, physiologists and others have the research expertise necessary to drive cutting-edge biomedical research.

Consumer groups are a critical part of the Gut Health Network as they help raise awareness and have an important role in getting information to and from patients, their families and support agencies.

The symposium is being held at the Academic Room, St Margaret’s College from 9am until 4pm.

For further information, contact

Dr Michael Schultz
Department of Medicine
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 474 7007 x8420

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