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.


2022 Awards

Liposomal drug therapy to treat bacterial infections

Principal investigator: Dr Daniel Pletzer, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago

Antibiotic resistance is rising rapidly and there are relatively few novel compounds or strategies under development or entering the clinic. Our research will address these issues by investigating liposomes, small vesicles made from membrane lipids. Liposomes have traditionally been used as lipid-based drug delivery systems, but recently been shown to work as stand-alone drug therapy to neutralize toxins from pathogenic bacteria. In this project, we will assess the utility of liposomes to attack and disarm two important pathogens, Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumannii. In New Zealand, both have emerged with limited antimicrobial treatment options and pose a significant threat to healthcare. The long-term goal of our research is to abrogate the adverse effects of antibiotics on the human body and prevent further development of antimicrobial resistance.


Effects of empagliflozin in individuals with non-diabetic stage 4 chronic kidney disease

Principal investigator: Dr Luke Wilson, Department of Medicine, 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.

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) as a novel tool for RED-S Funding

Principal investigator: Associate Professor Katherine Black, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago

Around half of our young active females are putting their health at serious risk, due to inappropriate diets. Yet there is no tool to identify the problems before dire health consequences occur. However, the relatively new technology of continuous glucose monitoring, originally developed for diabetics, could provide useful information before serious health problems develop. We will test the ability of continuous glucose monitors to detect differences between women with low energy and/or carbohydrate intake, and healthy women. If these monitors are accurate, clinicians and researchers working with active females will have a validated tool to facilitate health management amongst this vulnerable population.


Diet, activity, and medicine usage in South Asians at risk of cardiovascular disease

Principal investigator: Dr Sherly Parackal, Centre for International Health, University of Otago 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most potent killer in New Zealand (NZ) with NZ South Asians (SA) being one of the three high risk groups. Nevertheless, targeted prevention measures for NZ SAs are glaringly negligible. Poor dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles are strongly associated with CVD as is poor medicine usage among SAs with diabetes, a risk factor for CVD. International research demonstrates the importance of first gaining an understanding of health beliefs, knowledge, and behaviours related to diet, physical activity, and medicine usage before designing ethnic-specific interventions to reduce CVD burden. We aim to gain this understanding for SAs in NZ, which is not known.


Previous Awards