Fellowship Funding Will Aid Otago Researcher To Alleviate Organ Shortage

University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie, says the fellowships will accelerate the research for three of Otago’s best and brightest emerging leaders.

An Otago researcher is one step closer to 3D-bioprinting functioning organs in a laboratory after being awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship by the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

Dr Khoon Lim, from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch, is one of three Otago researchers who will receive $800,000 over five years thanks to the fellowship.

Dr Lim’s research, which aims to overcome the barriers of engineering living tissues in a laboratory using 3D-bioprinting, has the potential to alleviate the world’s organ shortage crisis.

While there have been past breakthroughs in creating living tissues, the largest functional, laboratory-made tissue is only about 2mm in size.

Dr Lim says scaling this up is hindered by the inability to incorporate functional blood vessel systems within these tissues, which is critical for the survival of the organs. He says the news is still sinking in, but he is “absolutely stoked” to receive the fellowship.

Also celebrating being awarded a fellowship is Dr Alana Alexander (Ngāpuhi: Te Hikutu, Pākehā), from the Department of Anatomy.  Her research will look at the past impacts of fisheries on the endangered Hector’s and Māui dolphins and use genomics to predict the impact of future climate change on whales and dolphins.

She will also co-develop 'science pūrākau' with hapū – a way of translating her scientific work into memorable narratives that will empower those who hold kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga over taonga species. 

Dr Htin Lin Aung, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, received the fellowship for his research using bacterial genomics which will develop community and patient-centred tuberculosis (Tb) healthcare services, in order to tackle health inequalities. 

Dr Aung says the fellowship allows him to mentor the next generation of researchers, particularly Māori and Pasifika students and early career researchers, which will help diversify Aotearoa’s health research workforce.


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Fellowship funding Otago Researcher R&D Organ Shortage

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