By: Emma Russell

Director of the Malaghan Institute Professor Graham Le Gros over the moon with generous donation. Photo / Supplied

Discovering ground-breaking treatments and findings about diseases such as cancer and asthma will be made easier thanks to a $7.1 million pledge towards building a world-class biomedical research hub in Wellington.

That’s the promise made by the director of the Malaghan Institute Professor Graham Le Gros who was “over the moon” with the generosity of the Hugh Green Foundation’s multi-million dollar investment.

“I think it’s the biggest private donation to a charity in New Zealand ever,” Le Gros told the Herald.

Over a five-year period, funds will go towards building an institute with technology, manufactured in the US, to better investigate the inner workings of the cells and tissues of our body in health and disease settings.

Le Gros said the hub will underpin the Malaghan Institute’s immunology research across cancer, asthma and allergy, gut health, brain health and infectious diseases.

“With the rate new findings are evolving, in order to develop research further new technology is crucial.”

He said it would put New Zealand on the global map for immunology research enabling the institute to be able to partner with world leaders.

The centre – to be named The Hugh Green Cytometry Centre – will also support a range of New Zealand science organisations including in biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry, neuroscience and marine biology, Le Gros said.

The Hugh Green Foundation, a charitable trust, has supported the Malaghan
Institute for more than eight years.

The foundation has been focused on helping build the Institute’s capability in flow cytometry – a scientific technique used to give vital information about cells for health research and diagnostics.

One area of research to benefit:

Recognising the quality of men’s sperm is one area the Malaghan Institute has been honing in on.

For fertility specialists like the medical director of Fertility Associates Wellington, Andrew Murray, this research has been instrumental.

“If you think of sperm like a courier driver, we know how many packages are getting delivered but the quality of the cargo has been unclear for a while.”

He said through the Malaghan Institute’s recent research measuring the amount of DNA damage to men’s sperm had been a lot easier.

“This is helpful because it clearly outlines the extent of the difficulty for their partner to get pregnant. From there we are able to help men make life style changes to better their chances – like changing diet or stopping smoking.”

Murray said there was a “huge shopping list of projects” the clinic needed research on but it required funding for new technology and resources.

He said this new biomedical hub would certainly help tick off some of those ground-breaking projects.

Source: NZ Herald

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