Dr José Derraik of the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland has been awarded the inaugural NZ-China Non-Communicable Diseases Research Collaboration Centre emerging researcher travel fellowship.
The fellowship, funded by the MBIE Catalyst Fund, is designed to support emerging New Zealand-based researchers to establish connections with Chinese counterparts. Dr Derraik receives $34,000 to progress a joint research project with the Children’s Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine.
In Hangzhou, Dr Derraik will work with researchers on health data collection from a series of large cohorts of children. He has had a preliminary meeting with Professor Jun-fen Fu, the vice-president of the Children’s Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine in December.
Professor Fu’s team is working with researchers from A Better Start National Science Challenge to gather health data on thousands of school-aged children. In the meantime, work has started on cross-sectional health data collected from nearly 23,000 children across China in 2009 and 2010.
Dr Derraik says, “There are a lot of valuable data on these children, their BMI, blood lipids, diet, and physical activity, and importantly, certain health indicators for their parents.” This collaboration aims to examine a number of important questions on the long-term health effects of early life events on Chinese children. However, it also aims to test the appropriateness of the obesity prediction model being developed as one of the linked projects in A Better Start’s Healthy Weight research theme.
Access to such a lode of child health data opens up all sorts of research opportunities. José says large cohorts make it possible for example, to detect clinically important differences in a population to enable deeper insight into the complex interactions that affect a child’s health.
The NZ-China Non-Communicable Diseases Research Collaboration Centre is a joint initiative of the three health National Science Challenges: A Better Start, Healthier Lives and Ageing Well. The Centre signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with Zhejiang University School of Medicine in October 2017 to promote research collaboration and technological innovation for the prevention, management and treatment of major chronic diseases.
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