Laurenson Bequest Award

The Foundation invites applications for grants to support medical research carried out in the Otago area or projects based in Otago. These are to be financed by income from bequests to the Foundation by the late Alexia and James Laurenson, known as The Laurenson Awards.

In accordance with the wishes of the Laurensons, applications are invited for research in areas relating to the investigation and dissemination of knowledge concerning the effects of proper diet and/or drugs on human health.


2021 Awards

How do curcumin analogues alter microglial phenotype post stroke?

Principal investigator Dr Ailsa L McGregor, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago

Curcumin, the active ingredient of the spice turmeric, has moved from alternative to mainstream medicine as a possible treatment for cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. It has been suggested that curcumin could also protect against inflammation following injury to the brain. Researchers at Otago have developed a series of agents that are more powerful than curcumin itself. We have shown these new agents can ‘switch off’ brain inflammation in an experimental model of stroke. This project will investigate exactly how these new compounds produce their anti-inflammatory effects and the length of time after stroke that they could be effective.

Prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on retail chicken in New Zealand

Principal investigator Professor Sarah Hook, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago

Every year thousands of New Zealanders get gastrointestinal infections with diarrhoea and vomiting from eating improperly cooked chicken and/or handling uncooked chicken. This usually peaks over summer and there is some evidence to suggest this may be increasing. In some individuals these infections may need to be treated with antibiotics, however there is concern that some bacteria found in food such as chicken may now be resistant to the effects of common antibiotics. This project will survey the prevalence and antibiotic susceptibility/resistance of bacteria on fresh retail chicken in Aotearoa New Zealand. This data will be compared to historical research nationally and internationally and will provide important background information for further research in this area.

Inhaled powder formulation for COVID-19

Principal investigator Dr Shyamal Das, School of Pharmacy, University of Otago

Currently, there are no vaccines and proven approved treatment for COVID-19. The majority of therapeutic candidates that are in clinical studies do not show expected outcomes although they showed efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in preclinical studies. One of the reasons is an insufficient amount of drugs in the lung, which is the primary site of COVID-19 infection. We are in the process of developing an inhaled delivery system for potential anti-COVID-19 drug(s) that will inhibit the entry and replication of the virus in the lung, ensuring an effective treatment at lower doses while reducing potential side effects.