Medical Research Scholarship
2018- 2019 Funding
This was awarded to Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer as the prIncipal investigator and Dr Jinny Yoon an Optic Nerve Research Fellow at the Department of Opthalmology, University of Auckland who were proposing to research Nailfold Capillary Changes in Glaucoma: Novel Biomarker of Disease Progression. Dr Hannah Kersten was involved later in the project and spoke to members about the research at the 98th AGM in Taupo.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in NZ affecting 10% of the population over the age of 70. The site of damage in glaucoma is the optic nerve, at the back of the eye. Causes of damage to the optic nerve remain poorly elucidated. It is recognised that elevated eye pressure is an important risk factor for glaucoma. However, approximately one third of glaucoma patients do not have high eye pressure. Furthermore, glaucoma continues to deteriorate despite treatments that aggressively lower eye pressure.
The aim of the research is to see if nailfold vasculature is a biomarker of glaucoma and can be used to predict those patients who will have very aggressive rapidly deteriorating glaucoma.
If they are able to identify a surrogate biomarker that correlates with the deterioration of glaucoma then treatment can be tapered accordingly: that is treat patients who are likley to deteriorate more aggressively and do not over treat patients who are likely to have milder disease - progressing the goal of personalised treatment in glaucoma management.
Our Medical Research Scholarship funding for 2016-2017 was awarded to Dr Zubkova at Victoria University of Wellington for research into Alzheimers' Disease, for more information visit
This scholarship was awarded to the Minds for Minds Charitable Trust at the 93rd AGM/Conference for research into autism.
The trust works in partnership with Autism Research Network New Zealand looking to try and help those families who have a child on the autism spectrum. The network aims to bring together scientists, health professionals, education professionals and the community to facilitate understanding and treatment options for autism.
Dr Taylor heads the study looking at the effect microbial 'communities' have on human health. When these 'communities' are in a state of imbalance, there can be negative consequences. Many recent studies have pointed to a potential link between our gut microbes and neurological disorders, including autism. They are using modern molecular biology techniques to investigate the role, if any, played by gut microbes in the autism spectrum disorders.
A cheque for $15,000 was presented to researcher Dr Mike Taylor on behalf of the Minds for Minds Trust by the then National President Jeanette Andrews.