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Recipients of the Innovation Jump Start Award

2023: Dr Rory Little, Victoria University

Creation of the New Zealand Insect Symbiont Collection for Antimicrobial Drug Discovery

Parmjeet Parmar MP (ACT) with Value of Medicines Innovation Jumpstart Award Winner, Dr Rory Little. 

Dr Little's project aims to discover new antimicrobial drugs from overlooked sources, particularly bacteria living in symbiosis with New Zealand's diverse insect population. While nature has historically provided successful drugs, rediscovery rates are high, and resistance is increasing. The project focuses on creating a collection of insect-derived bacteria (NZect strain collection), sequencing their genomes, and screening for antimicrobial natural products. The unique bacteria associated with New Zealand insects remain largely unexplored. His explorative and ambitious proposal aims to establish a unique New Zealand resource from which to conduct drug discovery, with a longer-term objective of his research being to establish a spinoff company to help develop promising drug leads, ultimately leading to a healthier and wealthier country.


Read more about Dr Little's research

2022: Dr Emma Wade, Otago University

Smart Biologicals to Promote Internal Healing

Professor Gary Evans (left) presents Dr Wade with the 2022 Innovation Jump Start Award Trophy

A serendipitous observation made during Dr Wade's research has led to the identification of a protein with significant potential for development into a biological therapeutic to improve post-surgical healing of the fascia after abdominal surgeries such as hernia repairs, caesarean sections, and surgery for pelvic prolapse. If the findings of her proposed research are positive and it is feasible to develop a biological therapeutic product using this protein, it would have the potential to improve outcomes for a vast range of people and could save the health system money by avoiding the need for repeat surgeries.


Read more about Dr Wade's research