China-New Zealand health research centre funded
The health-related National Science Challenges (NSCs) will collaborate in a new centre to enhance linkages between New
Zealand and China relating to research into non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Three NSCs will participate – Healthier Lives, Ageing Well and A Better Start. This collaboration currently encompasses
219 researchers in 26 institutions.
Healthier Lives Director Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago will head the new centre, which is named the
New Zealand-China Non-Communicable Diseases Collaboration Centre. It is expected that as the centre is established it
will be joined by other New Zealand groups who are working in this area to enhance collaborations with colleagues in
Healthier Lives Governance Group Chair Dr Jenny McMahon welcomed the announcement of the centre as evidence of the way
in which National Science Challenges are collaborating for the benefit of New Zealand. “China, with the world’s largest
population, is confronting a rising burden of non-communicable diseases. The new centre will provide opportunities for
researchers across New Zealand and China to learn from each other about how to combat this growing global health
The grant of $1.25M to establish the centre has been made through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s
Catalyst Fund, which supports activities that initiate, develop and foster collaborations leveraging international
science and innovation for New Zealand’s benefit.
As well as drawing on the existing collaborations between New Zealand and Chinese researchers and institutions, the
centre’s activities will focus around six research themes relevant to researchers from both countries.
These themes are diabetes/obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, rare inherited diseases, big data, and
Professor Parry Guilford, who will lead the centre’s cancer theme, says the contributing New Zealand researchers had
identified that access to China’s large populations and big data was crucial to efforts to progress research into NCD
risk, prevention and treatment in this country.
“In return, our collaborators in China will be able to access our public health and ethics expertise, and cutting-edge
New Zealand science regarding causes, prevention and treatment of NCDs. This will allow them to develop cost-effective
approaches for the rapidly increasing medical burden in China,” Professor Guilford says.
“The researchers will build on their strong existing collaborations in China and seek to create new ones,” Professor
The existing collaborations encompass four of the five top ranked research institutions in China – Peking, Fudan,
Shanghai Jiao Tong and Zheijang Universities as well as Tongii Hospital and Medical College, Huazhong University,
Chongqing, Shenzhen, East China Normal and Xian Jiaotong Universities, Beijing Neurological Institute and the National
Science Foundation of China.
Otago is also a partner in another newly announced Catalyst Fund-supported New Zealand-China collaboration. The Massey
University-led New Zealand-China Food Protection Network will enhance communication between research scientists,
government organisations and industries here and in China.
The network will create a new mechanism for knowledge generation and exchange, enabling the uptake of research into
effective policies that reduce hazards in the food chain and ensure a sustainable supply of safe and nutritious food.
Professor Phil Bremer (Food Science) leads the University of Otago arm of the network.