Healthier Lives Newsletter July 2021

22 July 2021

In this issue:

  • Funding announcement: Supporting health systems change
  • Research findings: International diabetes treatment guidelines over-estimate risk
  • Welcome and farewell
  • New website
  • Taking research to diverse audiences:
    • Innovations in Applied Data symposium
    • Måür lelei: Pacific People’s fono
    • Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa conference
    • Fashion for a Cure fundraising event
    • Manawataki : Fatu Fatu for ACCESS hui

Funding announcement: Supporting the health system to deliver equitable outcomes

Professor Sue Crengle

Healthier Lives has awarded nearly a million dollars for the first stage of research to support the health system to deliver more equitable health outcomes in Aotearoa New Zealand. The project is led by Professor Sue Crengle (Kai Tahu), a general practitioner and public health physician based at the University of Otago, in partnership with Waitematā DHB

“We are delighted to fund this project which will contribute to much-needed change in New Zealand’s health system by taking a systematic approach to reducing health inequities,” says Healthier Lives Director Professor Jim Mann.

Read more about the project

Research findings: International diabetes treatment guidelines may over-estimate cardiovascular risk

Professor Rod Jackson

Research published in The Lancet last month suggests international treatment guidelines for diabetes are over-estimating patients’ risks of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke. It reports the findings of a study led by Professor Rod Jackson (University of Auckland) and co-funded by Healthier Lives.

“For the first time, thanks to this research, we now have appropriate risk estimates to guide treatment for people with diabetes in Aotearoa,” says Healthier Lives director Jim Mann.

Diabetes breakthrough may help millions avoid unneeded meds University of Auckland

Welcome and farewell

Dr Libby Harrison

Dr Libby Harrison has joined the governance of Healthier Lives as the nominee of the Challenge Parties, the 10 research institutions who collaborate in our National Science Challenge.

Dr Harrison is the General Manager, Health and Environment, at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).  She has a strong background in science, originally as an entomologist and ecotoxicologist.

Sir Jerry Mateparae, Chair of the Healthier Lives Governance Group and Kāhui Māori, welcomed her appointment: “Libby’s knowledge of the science sector and her extensive experience in science leadership roles will strengthen our efforts to commission research to improve the health of New Zealanders.”

Dr Harrison’s appointment fills a vacancy left by the retirement of Dr Di McCarthy who served as the Challenge Parties representative for five years.  Dr McCarthy, a previous CEO of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, played an instrumental role in establishing Healthier Lives’ direction from its inception. 

“Di has been a wonderful mentor to the Challenge and remains a good friend and trusted adviser,” says Sir Jerry.

Read more about our Governance Group and Kāhui Māori

New website

Healthier Lives recently unveiled a new website to present our research.  We have worked with award-winning design team Weave Digital Studio to create a website that reflects our values, contains a wealth of information and is easy to navigate.

We invite you to visit the website and let us know what you think. 

Taking research to diverse audiences

Over the past two months, Healthier Lives researchers have been actively raising the profile of Challenge research at a series of events with diverse audiences.

Innovations in Applied Data symposium – 3 June

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Hundreds of data scientists and data users gathered at Te Papa in Wellington in June to attend the Innovations in Applied Data Symposium while others joined online.

Three keynote speakers focussed on collaborative ways to use Aotearoa’s cutting-edge data for the good of our communities. With over 50 quickfire presentations throughout the day, it was an opportunity to share work and meet others working in similar fields. The final panel discussion focussed on the future of applied data in Aotearoa and what will be required to realise the potential of our rich information resources.

An archive with abstracts and recordings of the talks, and contact information for experts in various fields, is available at:

The Innovations in Applied Data Symposium was hosted by Te Rourou Tātaritanga (an MBIE funded research group at Victoria University of Wellington) and the Social Wellbeing Agency, with support from Healthier Lives and iNZight Analytics.

Måür Lelei: Pacific People’s fono – 25 June

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Also last month, Pacific researchers hosted Måür Lelei in Auckland. This vibrant, well-attended fono brought community members and researchers together to talk about research that is relevant to the lives of Pacific peoples.

Healthier Lives was represented by Associate Professor Barry Milne (University of Auckland).  He leads the Lifecourse project jointly funded by the three health and wellbeing national science challenges, which is seeking to understand how living with a person who has a chronic condition affects their aiga (whānau or family) across the life-course. It includes an in-depth qualitative study with Tokelauan aiga led by Dr Ofa Dewes.

Read more about the Lifecourse project.

Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa conference – 22-23 June

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Dr Cristina Cleghorn (University of Otago, Wellington), Healthier Lives’ principal investigator, presented preliminary results for the first stage of the Sustainable New Zealand diets project at the Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa Conference, held in Wellington and via Zoom hubs in Auckland, Christchurch and Australia.
In a session on ‘Re-thinking Sustainable Health’, Dr Cleghorn spoke about a New Zealand diet optimised for health, cost and climate protection.

Read more about the Sustainable New Zealand diets project.

Fashion for a Cure fundraising event – 7 July

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Professor Parry Guilford (University of Otago), Healthier Lives deputy director and principal investigator, spoke at Breast Cancer Cure’s sold out fashion fundraiser in Dunedin.
Audiences viewed collections from 10 New Zealand fashion designers and heard a talk about cancer research, including Healthier Lives’ cutting-edge circulating tumour DNA research.

Read more about the ctDNA for better cancer care project.

Manawataki : Fatu Fatu for ACCESS hui – 8 July


Many of Aotearoa’s heart health researchers and clinicians gathered in Auckland recently for the Manawataki : Fatu Fatu for ACCESS hui. Their aim was to identify the persistent barriers facing Māori and Pacific peoples in accessing treatment for cardiovascular disease and start to develop a roadmap to overcome them.

Read more about the Manawataki : Fatu Fatu project

In the news

Experiences with bowel cancer

Healthier Lives co-principal investigator Dr Chris Jackson (Southern DHB) speaks to journalist Jo McKenzie-McLean in a heartfelt and clear-eyed piece about her personal experience with stage 4 bowel cancer.

Dr Jackson is part of the Healthier Lives ctDNA for better cancer care project which is investigating the use of circulating tumour DNA to detect cancer.

Battling bowel cancer – the frustration, the tears, the gratitude

Shifting away from processed foods benefits health and the environment

Healthier Lives principal investigator Dr Cristina Cleghorn (University of Otago, Wellington) comments on how shifting away from processed foods to more vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit is likely to benefit both health and the environment.

Kiwi ingenuity in the future of food – Expert Reaction Science Media Centre

Evaluating the impact of community access to shared vehicles

The ACTIVATION project,funded by Healthier Lives and Ageing Well,is partnering with Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (ŌCHT) to evaluate a trial of shared vehicles (electric cars and e-bikes) and the impact on residents’ travel habits.

The trial is the first of its kind in New Zealand and could influence the future design of community housing developments.

Social housing complex residents to get shared electric bikes and cars Stuff

Recent publications

He Pikinga Waiora
Harding T, Oetzel J. Implementation effectiveness of health interventions with Māori communities: a cross‐sectional survey of health professional perspectives. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2021;45(3):203-209. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.13093

Equitable CVD and diabetes risk prediction
Pylypchuk R, Wells S, Kerr A, Poppe K, Harwood M, Mehta S, Grey C, Wu BP, Selak V, Drury PL, Chan WC, Orr-Walker B, Murphy R, Mann J, Krebs JD, Zhao J, Jackson R. Cardiovascular risk prediction in type 2 diabetes before and after widespread screening: a derivation and validation study. The Lancet. 2021;397(10291):2264-2274. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(21)00572-9

Legget ME, Cameron VA, Poppe KK, Aish S, Earle N, Choi Y, Bradbury KE, Wall C, Stewart R, Kerr A, Harrison W, Devlin G, Troughton R, Richards AM, Porter G, Gladding P, Rolleston A, Doughty RN. The Multi-Ethnic New Zealand Study of Acute Coronary Syndromes (MENZACS): Design and Methodology. Cardiogenetics. 2021;11(2):84-97. doi: 10.3390/cardiogenetics11020010

Vannier C, Mulligan H, Wilkinson A, Elder S, Malik A, Morrish D, Campbell M, Kingham S, Epton M. Strengthening community connection and personal well‐being through volunteering in New Zealand. Health and Social Care in the Community. 2021;Jun 5. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13340

View our 2019-24 Research Strategy

He Pikinga Waiora Research Findings Brief

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