Uni allocates early career research funds

Prasath Jayakaran
Prasath Jayakaran
Research into a common childhood eye disorder is among seven University of Otago projects that have gained $1.7million in Health Research Council funding.

Seven researchers gained $1,714,369 in Emerging Research First Grants, a fund dedicated to people in the early stages of their research career.

Together, these researchers receive about half of the national share of the emerging researcher funding, with nearly $3.7million awarded nationally to 15 recipients, and announced yesterday.

This is up on last year, when six Otago researchers gained almost $1.5million.

Physiotherapy lecturer Prasath Jayakaran, of Dunedin, was "really excited" to gain $244,828 to continue his research into strabismus, or misalignment
of the eyes.

This "relatively common childhood disorder" affected several thousand children - about 4% of children under 6 years, Dr Jayakaran said.

Trudy Sullivan
Trudy Sullivan
It mainly affected the visual field and environmental perception, but its effects on balance control were "largely unexplored".

Trudy Sullivan, a lecturer in health economics at the preventive and social medicine department, has gained a $247,406 grant to explore improving a health-related quality of life tool to help decide which medicines and health technologies to fund.

Ayesha Verrall, of Otago's Wellington campus, has gained $250,000 to undertake further Tb-related research in Indonesia to help in the development of better future vaccines.

Occupational therapist Fiona Graham, of Otago's Wellington campus, received $233,618 to trial an occupational performance coaching intervention, a family-centred approach that helps caregivers support their children with neuro-developmental disabilities to achieve goals of participating more fully in society.

Other grants: Julie Bennett, (Wellington campus), $245,000; Gabriella Lindberg and Janice Chew-Harris (both Christchurch campus), $249,759 and $243,758 respectively.


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