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Research at the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department

State-of-the-art technologies, including the use of in-vivo disease models, are used to undertake integrative, cellular and molecular investigations aimed at understanding animal and human pathophysiology (and to delineate targets for novel drugs).

Funding in toxicology

In 2017 we launched the first funding round for projects related to toxicology. We received a great deal of interest and awarded four grants to researchers from across the University.

Projects funded:

Investigation into the stability of the acid metabolites of recent generation synthetic cannabinoids.

  • This project is in collaboration with the ESR and is looking at ways to monitor the new synthetic cannabinoids that have been causing deaths around NZ. The death rate of synthetic cannabinoids has recently risen sharply, despite the law changes, ESR need to stay ahead of the curve to ensure they can track and monitor exposure and hopefully prevent these new drugs coming into the country.

Cytochrome P450 gene expression as a biomarker for exposure to environmental toxins.

  • This project will be using honey bee genetics to determine if we can screen for exposure to toxins with the hope of extending it to a range of species both native and introduced. This is key for determining things such as how much agricultural chemicals impact our native species. The lead researchers for this project hail from Biochemistry and are working with Landcare.

Wisdom in teeth: biomonitoring metal exposure in aquatic environments using dolphin teeth.

  • Investigators from the dental school and geology have linked up with collaborators from NZ (Massey University) and Australia (Macquarie University and South Australian Museum). They will be using museum specimens in the form of dolphin teeth to track metal exposure in marine species. This could provide a novel method for determining wildlife exposure to pollution in the oceans.

Are crosslinked edible films comprising zein proteins, chitosan and PVA safe for consumption?

  • A research team in food science have developed a new edible packaging material for foods, the project is the first safety test on these compounds. If the film is successful it could dramatically reduce waste going to landfill.

The 2019 funding round is now open. For information and application forms, please email:

Research themes

Academic and research-support staff of the Department are engaged in high quality, internationally-recognised research focussed on the following themes:

Research groups

Individual laboratory groups are as follows:

Research funders

Research is funded by international and national research organisations such as:

Individual researchers within the Department maintain strong collaborative links with other Departments within the University and laboratories in all five continents.

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