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Our Research

The Trust funds research in several surgical departments throughout New Zealand and each summer it supports three or four students through its Studentship Programme.

Below are some highlights of the projects the Trust has funded over the years:


Funds were awarded to Jonathan Foo and Prof Richard Stubbs to identify gene transcription changes in the liver that occur in response to gastric bypass performed for the treatment of morbid obesity. Obesity results in diabetes, which is rapidly reversed following gastric bypass and the gene transcription changes, are thought to be the basis of this reversal of diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Several grants have been awarded to Dr Jonathan Foo, Dr Mark Hayes and Prof Richard Stubbs to identify gene transcription changes in the liver that occur following gastric bypass performed for the treatment of morbid obesity. The importance of this relates to the observation made by Prof Stubbs and his team that Type 2 diabetes in severely obese individuals can be completely resolved in around 80% of individuals by gastric bypass surgery. Prof Stubbs' team has shown this is not an effect of weight loss, but rather is related to profound alteration in a number of genes within the liver.

Specific identification of these genes and the proteins they code for has the potential to lead to dramatic new approaches for treating Type 2 diabetes, without the need for gastric bypass surgery. This work funded by the Surgical Research Trust has laid the foundation for the development of important, more effective new medications to one day become available for Type 2 diabetes.


Dr Patries Herst and research officer Carole Grasso were given funding to look at the effect of high dose ascorbate (vitamin C) and radiation on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumours in mice. GBM brain tumours are highly aggressive and invasive due to their extreme chemotherapy and radiation resistance.

Inneke Meredith and Prof Tony Blakely were given research funds to investigate the cancer incidence and survival in Pacific Island people compared with non-Maori and non-Pacific people in New Zealand. This study analysed the rates of cancer in Pacific people from 1981-2004, and the rates of cancer survival in Pacific people in NZ from 1991-2004. The research found rates of endometrial cancer have risen steadily amongst Pacific women since 1991, whereas the rates for Maori and European women remained relatively stable. When broken down into age groups, the risk for Pacific women was over six times that of European/Other women in New Zealand. It also found that up to 70% of this disease is avoidable amongst Pacific females if all females in New Zealand were moved to an "ideal" BMI of under 25, non-diabetic and encouraged them to be physically active (i.e. 30 mins of exercise a day).


Prof Swee Tan was awarded funds to further understand the origin of infantile Haemangioma. This study of the pathology of haemangiomas (birth marks) examined biopsies of haemangiomas in order to determine the origin of the microvessels.Prof Tan's research is internationally recognised and has resulted in changes to the management of this unslightly condition.

Renal Conditions

Studies on the effect of bladder outlet obstruction on the development of the kidneys and bladder in the fetal lamb. This research is part of an ongoing collaboration with Professor Hiroaki Kitagawa from St Marianna University School of Medicine. This has resulted in up to 3 papers a year accepted by paediatric surgical journals and up to 2 PhD degrees a year being awarded by St Marianna University.