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Research partnership to help prepare for future infectious disease threats officially launched

Thursday 17 November 2022 3:49pm

A new $36 million research platform aimed at preparing for future infectious disease threats was launched today.

Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall officially launched Te Niwha (Infectious Diseases Research Platform) at Tūrangawaewae Marae this morning.

The platform is co‑hosted by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) and the University of Otago. Its co-directors, Hauora leader Te Pora Thompson (Ngati Hauā) and Distinguished Professor and expert in infectious disease epidemiology and public health Nigel French, were appointed in July, and today have gathered with guests from around the country to mark the beginning of this important partnership.

Richard Blaikie image 2022
Professor Richard Blaikie.

University of Otago Deputy Vice‑Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie says the platform represents research needed to prepare for the future.

“We see this is a responsibility to the community which our research serves and to the researchers themselves. We are proud to stand behind and support a platform which will be tasked with finding important answers for all New Zealanders.

“Through the work of this platform we aim to reach minority communities and differently-abled communities so as we develop more understanding of infectious diseases, they will be able to join us in developing future plans.”

ESR Chief Scientist Dr Brett Cowan says the platform builds on the central role science played in managing New Zealand’s response to COVID‑19.

“New Zealand can be very proud of its science-led response, which involved harnessing expertise from across the country to inform decision-making and support our communities.

“In doing so, we could see the benefit in a formal research platform that could bring the right expertise together to position us better for the future. We are proud that a legacy of COVID‑19 in New Zealand is a stronger research infrastructure and today is a significant milestone in that journey.”

Te Pora Thompson and Nigel French composite image
Te Niwha co-directors Te Pora Thompson and Professor Nigel French.

For more information, contact:

Caleb Starrenburgh
Mob +64 27 218 8754
Email caleb.starrenburgh@esr.cri.nz