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Clocktower.Tuesday 9 January 2018 11:19am

Professor Neil Gemmel (left) and Professor Tony Merriman.

Two University of Otago academics have received Fulbright New Zealand Scholar Awards to undertake research in the United States.

Professors Neil Gemmell and Tony Merriman have been awarded up to $US37,500 to support research for three to five months in the US.

Professor Gemmell, head of the University's Department of Anatomy, will research the usefulness of new "gene drive" technologies for the control of predatory pests, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Broad Institute.

Professor Merriman, of the Department of Biochemistry, will research the genetic basis of urate control and gout in African-Americans, at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Gout, which affects 6 to 8 per cent of Maori and Pasifika adults, is one of his primary research areas.

Fulbright New Zealand Scholar Awards are for New Zealand academics, artists or professionals to lecture and or conduct research at US institutions. Their aim is to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the US.

More than 3000 people have benefited from the programme, jointly funded by the US and New Zealand governments, along with sponsors and donors, since it was established in 1948.

The 2018 Fulbright New Zealand Scholars will be honoured at the annual Fulbright Award Ceremony in June.

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