Prof Rob Walker, of the University of Otago Dunedin School
of Medicine, gives an overview of ''the kidney in health
and disease'', in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter
Medical researchers involved in three different study
areas joined forces at a University of Otago research meeting
yesterday to explore new ways of tackling several important
challenges, including treating gout and kidney disease.
About 60 researchers, including at least two from Australia,
attended the ''triple theme research meeting'', which was
jointly hosted by the Otago kidney in health and disease
research theme, as well as the Gut Health Network and the
Otago arthritis research theme.
Among a series of distinguished contributors to the day-long
meeting were Prof Lisa Stamp, a rheumatologist at the
university's Christchurch campus, and director of the Otago
University Arthritis Research Theme.
She had received the Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith
Medal for Research in 2011.
Prof Stamp discussed the role of uric acid as a ''master
regulator'' in the body, and problems involving excessive
uric acid build-up in conditions such as gout.
She noted the benefits of reducing excessive uric acid levels
in the management of gout, but warned that more research
needed to be done, and that, in some circumstances,
maintaining an excessively low uric acid level could also be
Prof Rob Walker heads the department of medicine at Otago's
Dunedin School of Medicine and is director of the Otago
kidney in health and disease research theme.
He gave a talk which provided an overview of research
involving this theme.
Prof Walker also said in an interview there were big benefits
to be gained from researchers working more closely together.
Yesterday's first joint research meeting of the three
research areas had also proved positive, he said.
He noted that aspects of uric acid production and management
in the body involved the gut and the kidney, as well as
aspects of arthritis, and it was appropriate that researchers
involved in all these areas worked more closely together.
Among other contributors speaking was Prof Richard Kitching,
a physician-scientist at the Centre for Inflammatory Diseases
at Monash University, who is involved in research into an
important cause of kidney disease.