research landing

Non-communicable diseases (respiratory disease, cancer, dermatitis, diabetes, neurological conditions, congenital malformations)

During 2010 we continued work on our major HRC-funded study of factors in farming that protect against asthma in farmers’ children and their parents. We are now conducting Phase III of the study which is examining the immune status of babies born on farms and a group of control babies.

We are examining the hypothesis that endotoxin exposure later in life may reverse pre-existing allergies and allergic diseases in an HRC-funded prospective cohort of previously unexposed allergic adults who are starting a work career in industries with moderate to high endotoxin exposures.

Our HRC Programme Grant for Building Research in Occupational Health and Safety in New Zealand (BROHNZ) also includes funding for a major study of occupational asthma in sawmill workers. We are also conducting a study of exposure to airborne hazardous substances in the wood conversion sector with funding from the HRC/Department of Labour (DoL).

We are also continuing to work on the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). Neil Pearce is a member of the ISAAC Executive and the ISAAC Steering Committee.  Sunia Foliaki is Regional Coordinator for Oceania and a member of the Steering Committee.

During 2010 Christine van Dalen also continued work on a study of the role of the lung macrophage in asthma pathology, and commenced a study of the role of the neutrophil in airways inflammation, funded by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand (ARFNZ).

In 2010, Collin Brooks continued his PhD research on the role of innate immunity in asthma. The work is being conducted in collaboration with the Malaghan Institute for Medical Research, with funding support from the ARFNZ.

Our cancer research programme includes ongoing studies of occupational cancer, and a casecontrol study of breast cancer (with funding from Lotteries Health Research, the Cancer Society of New Zealand, and the Health Research Council).

We are conducting four major HRC-funded cancer research projects:

(i) inequalities in breast cancer survival (Lis Ellison-Loschmann, Fiona McKenzie);

(ii) a case-control study of risk factors for stomach cancer in Māori (Lis Ellison-Loschmann);

(iii) inequalities in cervical cancer survival (Naomi Brewer’s PhD research programme); and

(iv) the role of primary care for Māori with cancer (Tania Slater’s PhD research programme).

In addition, we have been conducting a number of other analyses of cancer survival including Fiona McKenzie’s PhD research on disparities in breast cancer survival, and Ridvan Firestone’s research on ethnic differences in disease presentation for uterine cancer in New Zealand.

A study of human papilloma virus (HPV) prevalence in Fiji (conducted by Sunia Foliaki and Naomi Brewer) was completed in 2010, and Sunia Foliaki is conducting research on cancer registration and incidence in Tonga, Fiji Islands, Cook Islands and Niue (with Diana Best and Neil Pearce).

Andrea ‘t Mannetje is conducting an HRC/DoL funded study on workplace exposures to carcinogens in New Zealand.

Andrea ‘t Mannetje also has a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for a study of occupational risk factors for Non- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL), and David McLean has an NIH grant for a study of occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and risk of glioma and meningioma.