Funding for innovation

Four CBR researchers have been awarded prestigious Marsden grants for innovative New Zealand research.

The Marsden Fund is regarded as a hallmark of excellence, allowing New Zealand’s best researchers to explore their ideas. It supports projects in the sciences, technology, engineering and maths, social sciences and the humanities. The fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand on behalf of the government.

Associate Professor Michelle Glass was awarded $900,000 for her work on G-protein coupled receptors. This class of receptors represents the target for 50% of all drugs on the market, and Michelle aims to find a new way of altering G protein signalling.

Associate Professor Nigel Birch was awarded $895,000 for research on neuroserpin and its potential role in the human immune system. Professor Margaret Brimble was awarded $825,000 to determine the structure of proteins through racemic protein crystallography. Meanwhile evolutionary psychology research Professor Russell Gray was awarded $775,000 to use his methods of studying evolution to look at how religion has developed.

Marsden Fund Council chairman Professor Peter Hunter said he is proud to be part of the Marsden Fund system and is continually impressed at the quality of the applicants and the proposals.

“The Marsden Fund supports leading-edge research, which creates economic growth and increases our understanding of issues, from medical advancements to social change and development.

“Most breakthroughs around the world come from this basic science end of the research spectrum, which is what makes the Marsden Fund both exciting to be part of and vital for New Zealand to invest in.

“The newly funded projects from the country’s top researchers are all excellent. However, we are very aware that there were many more extremely worthy projects that we were unable to fund.”

Applications to the Marsden Fund are extremely competitive. Of the 1078 preliminary proposals received, 250 were asked to submit a full proposal with 88 ultimately funded, giving a success rate of 8.2%. All of the funded proposals are for three years.