Prof Warren Tate and PhD student Angus Mackay, of the
University of Otago biochemistry department, pursue new
research involving ME, also called chronic fatigue
syndrome. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Lottery Health Research grants totalling $126,200 have
boosted University of Otago researchers Angus Mackay and Prof
Warren Tate's hopes of finding a diagnostic blood test for
chronic fatigue syndrome, once called Tapanui flu.
Otago University researchers have gained about $1.86 million
overall in new funding for 34 research and/or equipment
grants and three PhD scholarships in the latest annual grants
from the Lottery Grants Board, to pursue research aimed at
improving the health of New Zealanders.
Throughout the country, about $4.14 million - comprising 75
grants- was distributed in the Lottery Health Research
2012-13 funding round. Otago University had gained more than
$1.47 million in grants in Lottery Health's previous annual
grants in 2011-12, which had totalled about $3.36 million.
Scots-born Mr Mackay and his biochemistry PhD supervisor,
Prof Tate, have very good reasons for trying to find
molecular biomarkers for myalgic encephalomyelitis, commonly
known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Mr Mackay (52), who gained an $85,000 PhD scholarship, has
experienced ME since the age of 35, and a close member of
Prof Tate's family has also long had the condition.
The syndrome was ''complex, debilitating, life-changing and,
in most cases, lifelong'', Prof Tate said.
''There is no specific diagnostic blood test or effective
''This highlights the urgent need to find specific biomarkers
to differentiate ME/CFS from other treatable disorders
involving fatigue and to expedite the search for specific
About 20,000 New Zealanders were affected by ME, with an
estimated economic cost of about $40,000 for each affected
family, he said.
Mr Mackay said ME had prevented him from pursuing his passion
for school teaching but he was now determined to learn much
more about ME, including how to detect it in blood.
Other Otago University recipients of Lottery Health
grants.-Prof Cliff Abraham, psychology, $37,600; Dr Andrew
Bahn, physiology, $11,700; Dr Biju Balakrishnan, pharmacy,
$46,800; Prof Antony Braithwaite, pathology, $66,600; Dr
Andrew Clarkson, anatomy, $90,000; Dr Dawn Coates, $37,300,
Prof Bernadette Drummond, $17,000, Associate Prof Warwick
Duncan, $23,800, Prof Mauro Farella, $49,500, all oral
sciences; Dr Kirsty Fairbairn, human nutrition, $3188; Dr
Elspeth Gold, anatomy, $26,500; Dr Regis Lamberts, $67,500,
Dr Rajesh Katare, $27,600, both physiology; Dr Lynnette
Jones, physical education, $24,700; Dr Kirsten Lovelock,
preventive and social medicine, $45,000; Meredith Peddie,
human nutrition, $52,700; Associate Prof Russell Poulter,
biochemistry, $71,600; Dr Euan Rodger, pathology, $54,000; Dr
Daryl Schwenke, physiology, $35,235; Prof John Sullivan,
physiotherapy, $49,500; Dr Sebastien Taurin, pharmacology and
toxicology, $50,000; Dr Lisa Te Morenga, human nutrition,
$90,000; Prof Vernon Ward, microbiology and immunology,
$40,000; Dr Timothy Woodfield, orthopaedic surgery and
musculoskeletal medicine, $90,000; Dr Yiwen Zheng,
pharmacology and toxicology, $25,600. Christchurch campus: Dr
Gillian Abel, $51,400; Prof Andrew Day, $79,700; Dr Claire
Heppenstall, $45,000; Dr Jennifer Jordan, $39,400; Dr Timothy
Prickett, $90,000; Dr Tracy Melzer, $48,600. Wellington
campus: Prof Anthony Dowell, $51,200; Inga O'Brien, $26,800.
PhD scholarships: Victoria Farmer, medicine, $85,000; Lindsay
Robertson, preventive and social medicine, $85,000.