A health research funder on a quest to make a difference for the people of the Waikato, is inviting the public to donate to a new philanthropic investment fund that will help it back more projects.

The Waikato is a centre for world-leading health research, thanks in part to the work of the Waikato Medical Research Foundation (WMRF) since it was 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.

Foundation Chair Gillian Spry points to the well-regarded ‘Sugar Babies Study’ by Dr Deborah Harris as a transformational project that received WMRF backing.

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

In the Sugar Babies 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.

The Foundation takes 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

“Fostering research and better health outcomes is what we’re trying to do,” says Gillian.

Six to twelve grants of up to $30,000 each are offered per year, with its 2022 assistance adding up to $103,000.

In requiring high quality and ethical research in a fiscally tight research environment, the WMRF seeks applications of an excellent standard, often working with unsuccessful applicants with a great idea to further develop their bids for a later funding round.

The WMRF Board is a mix of doctors, lawyers, accountants, academics and other professionals. Now, with an eye to the future, they have established a philanthropic investment fund with Momentum Waikato, the region’s community foundation.

Their decision to set up the ‘Waikato Medical Research Foundation Fund’ is all about making it easier for the public to contribute towards the success of the health research sector in the region.

“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,” says Gillian.

“That’s pretty exciting and interesting. We invite people to donate and, through our newsletter, join us in learning about the amazing research work going on here in the Waikato.”

To make one-off or ongoing donations to the Waikato Medical Research Foundation Fund please visit momentumwaikato.nz/donate or contact Momentum.