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The science of food

“Ever wanted to know if a cow is smiling? Or how you can make your car run on food waste from the rubbish dump?”



Well Grow Ō Tautahi Science Ambassador Trevor Stuthridge is keen to share cool science along with research that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

“I think scientists often forget how amazing our job is and how excited our research can make people,” the AgResearch Research Director says.

Trevor is leading the Science of Food Hub during Christchurch’s free, three-day Garden Festival Grow Ō Tautahi.

Challenged by the ideas and questions of local secondary students, environmental experts from AgResearch, Lincoln University and Environment Canterbury will explore the topics that matter to our region right now and into the future.

“It is a great chance to make science real by engaging audiences in environmental and sustainability issues that really mean something to their lives,” he says.

A self-professed “uber geek”, Trevor is thrilled to have the opportunity to share cutting-edge science at the festival and demonstrate how local research can have a real benefit to our personal and community wellbeing.

“We’re all becoming more aware that what we consume has a direct impact on both our health and our environment. A future where we tailor food to our individual genetics and track its source according to consumer preferences is now on the horizon.

“Indeed, local research organisations and universities view the region as a strong, living laboratory for how science can make a difference for New Zealand.”


Quality Imaging using AI Tech

To provide for the rapidly evolving technological advances and interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Pacific Radiology has purchased its fifth MRI scanner for Canterbury, the top of the line Siemens 3T Magnetom Vida, now installed at Forté Health on Peterborough Street.

MRI technologists Simon and Stephen with the new machine at Forté

MRI scans are minimally invasive and very safe; they do not use radiation and there is no exposure to x-rays.

MRIs image soft tissue structures in the body – for instance, the brain, eyes, heart and ligaments around joints such as shoulders.

Stephen Kingston Smith has been working as an MRI tech with PRG for more than 11 years.

He was involved in researching the purchase of the new machine and was impressed with the latest advancements the Vida has to offer.

“The patient has a much more comfortable experience,” Stephen says. “The opening on this scanner is wider, which improves the experience for the claustrophobic patient.”

Stephen was also impressed with the scanner software and computer advancements.

The new Bio Matrix capability of this scanner uses artificial intelligence (AI), which auto-detects motion and results in some fantastically clear images.

“It can scan a bigger range and has sensors which help image clarity in the case of patient movement and respiration. Scan times are also quicker on this machine,” Stephen says.

The new generation of MRI scanners produces much better soft tissue contrast in shorter scan times and is being used to scan the abdomen and pelvis with exquisite detail.

MRI is now being used routinely to screen for prostate cancer, small bowel disease and breast cancer, to mention a few.

Pacific Radiology radiologists and neuroimaging specialists are excited by the continuing growth and advancement in MRI.

MRI advanced imaging techniques of the brain. The colours are showing the direction of the nerve tracts within the brain.

Gareth Leeper, charge MRI technologist at Pacific Radiology, says, “The new scanner at Forté is producing the best pictures we have ever seen of the nerves right down to the hands and feet, and we have seen an increase in the number of referrals for imaging of the leg and arm nerves in patients with chronic pain syndrome.”

Pacific Radiology has built a team of talented medical professionals who have a wealth of knowledge trained extensively in MRI.

The new MRI scanner at Forté will help address the growing demand for MRI scans.

The team is excited to be bringing the absolute state-of-the-art to enhance their late model fleet of MRI to the people of Canterbury/West Coast.

Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

The powerful virtues of Medical Research: pioneering the future at Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

To a large extent, the longer life expectancy we enjoy owes to pioneers of modern medicine in our midst. Canterbury Medical Research Foundation is one of eight research organisations playing this vital role in New Zealand. It is second only to Auckland in size.

Canterbury Medical Research Foundation

Focused on transitional science, to identify a very clear nexus between what’s being done in the field of research and the outcome for the patient, the real ethos of the foundation is around legacy – what it can do to make a better life for future generations and in turn, ensure less suffering for people with chronic illness and their families.
While trying to reduce the bureaucracy that frustrates so many in the field, the foundation’s assessment process for its research is no less rigorous than any other. “The key is that we are not just some faceless funding agency; we develop a meaningful relationship with those we support,” CEO Kate Russell says. “With the likes of the Universities of Canterbury and Otago, we feel a great deal of responsibility, friendship and goodwill towards them, because they are doing a brilliant job.”
An important part of Canterbury Medical Research Foundation’s remit focuses on health issues important to New Zealanders and those with a local relevance to Christchurch such as depression and anxiety, particularly post-quakes. “We also support the ADHD work of Dr Julia Rucklidge at University of Canterbury, Prof Frank Frizzell and his team working on colorectal research and so many others. The work of our own NZ Brain Research Institute is an important part of what we do.
“The Brain ‘Centre of Research Excellence’ (CoRE) that our institute participates in, has been given a very clear focus – to push the beginnings of cognitive decline out by five years. Most people, if they live long enough, will experience some level of cognitive decline, so if we can delay this, it affects the whole trajectory of the disease.”
One of the main reasons it exists is to fill a very important gap. “We are niche funders who commit to small and interesting projects to help them become large and interesting projects.
“The reason Professor Don Bevan started our foundation is because we have a huge hospital base here, a medical school and the University of Canterbury. We have a lot of lovely, young, bright minds fresh out of study with their PhD, and if they are not supported or given opportunities, they go overseas and we risk permanently losing that intellectual capital.”
With $1.6 million given away annually by Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and a goal to give away $2 million annually by 2020, Russell says the foundation wishes to sincerely thank all its generous donors.
“We have been so blessed in the generous bequests received. A lot of people think, ‘I don’t donate because surely they are only interested in big donors’, but actually, it is our hundreds and hundreds of small donors who give us what they can that helps us push our reserves up. There are a lot of worthy charities in New Zealand and we’re so thankful because the only reason we can do all of this is because of our generous community.”
Tomorrow – 16 March – Canterbury Medical Research Foundation is partnering with the Cancer Society for its annual Russley Golf Club Tournament. Also on the agenda this year, is its annual Wine and Art Auction where $100,000 is guaranteed to be raised to support a selected project. Applications for project funding have also just closed, so keep an eye out for further news.