From the Momentum Waikato Annual Report 2023 - see full report in PDF.

The Waikato is a significant centre for health research, thanks in part to the Waikato Medical Research Foundation (WMRF) established in 1986.

The population of the Waikato is young, growing and diverse, with its own distinct health challenges and inequities, particularly amongst rural, Maaori and Pasifika communities. The Foundation's purpose is to provide seed funding for robust and ethical research into medical and health care that can bridge inequity gaps and improve health outcomes across the board.

With an eye to the future, the WMRF Board created the ‘Waikato Medical Research Foundation Fund’ at Momentum Waikato in May 2023, with the particular purpose of making it easier for the public to contribute towards this key organisation behind the success of the region’s health research sector.

The Foundation take pride in supporting emerging and early career researchers, at a range of clinical settings, tertiary institutions and community organisations, where their projects may be too small for the national Health Research Council to fund. It also builds local research capacity and capability through project collaborations with Braemar Hospital and the Cancer Society.

Foundation Chair Gillian Spry said “fostering research and better health outcomes is what we’re trying to do”.

The well-regarded ‘Sugar Babies Study’ by Dr Deborah Harris is just one transformational research project that received WMRF backing.

In that trial, sugar in the form of dextrose gel was shown to be very effective at reversing hypoglycemia and reducing the number of admissions to neo-natal intensive care for the condition.

“That research changed clinical practice around the world. Newborn babies having low blood sugar, hypoglycemia, can lead them to suffer brain damage or death,” said Gillian.

“We are in a position to help make advances right here that have the potential to improve health for the people of the Waikato, and around the globe,” said Gillian.

“That’s pretty exciting and interesting!”

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