University of Otago researcher Andrew Clarkson says New
Zealand should ''declare war'' on strokes and strengthen
related research, after successfully cutting the national road
Dr Clarkson, a senior research fellow in the university
anatomy and psychology departments, said about 2500 people
died in New Zealand from strokes each year, nearly 10 times
the number killed on our roads.
Provisional New Zealand Transport Agency data shows 254
people were killed on New Zealand roads last year, well down
from a peak of 843 deaths in 1973.
Many stroke deaths were preventable, but funding for stroke
research remained limited and should be strengthened, given
the size of the stroke-related death toll, he said.
The strong, Government-backed leadership shown in combating
the road toll had proved effective, and lessons could also be
learned in efforts to reduce stroke deaths.
Dr Clarkson has been undertaking drug-related research that
aims to boost recovery from strokes by restoring contact with
''silent brain cells''.
Some brain cells are killed in strokes, but recent research
suggests that some nearby cells previously thought to have
died could potentially be reactivated, helping boost
Dr Clarkson is a member of the university's Brain Health
Research Centre, which was formally launched this week.
In its initial form, the Otago centre was established in
2006, and has since grown from modest beginnings to a network
of more than 220 researchers.
Dr Clarkson welcomed the centre's launch, and its decision to
adopt strokes as its main theme for this year.
His research had been significantly boosted last year by two
''fantastic'' grants, totalling $1 million, from Danish
funding authorities, including from the Danish Research
The funding supports research by two Danish researchers,
working in association with his Otago laboratory.
This overseas funding also highlighted the need for more New
Zealand funding for brain health research in general,
including for stroke-related studies, he said.
The brain centre has joined forces with the Otago Museum to
offer Dunedin's first Brain Awareness Week, starting with a
talk by Prof Liz Franz and other speakers, at the museum at
12.30pm this Monday.