The new Auckland Academic Health Alliance, officially opened by the Minister of Health the Hon Tony Ryall, will help to establish a closer relationship between University and hospital-based research – ensuring a faster translation of clinical research into patient care.
The Alliance strengthens a 40-year relationship between the University of Auckland and the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) to inform research, invigorate clinical teaching and ensure scientific breakthroughs and advances in medical care reach patients faster.
“This is a very positive development which will see hospitals and universities pool their knowledge and expertise to return public health and research dollars to patients,” says ADHB Chairman Lester Levy. “The development is also an important key to ensure New Zealand has the health workforce needed in the future.”
“We are paving the way for a robust health research and workforce environment which will maximise our health and education dollars for the benefit of patients and taxpayers,” he says.
The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon says, “The Alliance’s integrated healthcare and research environment will play an integral part in the recruitment, growth and retention of valuable health professionals, teachers and students.”
He says the Alliance approach has been adopted in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Singapore and is considered best practice for the 21st Century.
“While the Alliance has been formed by the ADHB and The University of Auckland our vision for the future is to be joined by other healthcare and research organisations to focus on major illnesses facing New Zealanders – like cancer and heart disease.”
The Auckland Academic Health Alliance will focus on conducting research into diseases and conditions that directly affect New Zealanders, using knowledge, resources and personnel from both organisations.
As well as strong links with the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences the Alliance signals a collaboration that will include innovations and breakthroughs achieved in other faculties, such as Engineering, Science or even Business or Law as well as the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.
As part of the launch of the Alliance, three new Honorary Professors were the first academics to present inaugural lectures at evening events for the new grouping.
The three new Honorary Professors – world renowned hepatologist Ed Gane and two of New Zealand’s leading cardiologists, Ralph Stewart and Peter Ruygrok – are recognised as leaders in their respective clinical fields and their lectures were well attended by supporters from both the ADHB and the University.
The Auckland Academic Health Alliance has its own website (www.aaha.org.nz) that presents examples of how the organisations already link quality research with patient care.
In the first inaugural lecture for the Alliance, Professor Gane traversed his extensive research interests as director of the Liver Transplant Unit with a focus on his work on Hepatitis C, revealing how he with fellow researchers have effectively developed a cure for the disease. These advances have been driven by research and honed in clinical trials with the beneficiaries being the patients and their families.
Two of New Zealand’s leading cardiologists, Professors Ralph Stewart and Peter Ruygrok gave inaugural lectures on different aspects of cardiac illnesses.
Professor Stewart discussed the impact that lifestyle and psychosocial factors have on cardiac disease and heart health, while Professor Ruygrok focussed on advances in the interventional approaches to dealing with cardiac conditions.
Honorary academics play a significant role in the education of the next generation of the health workforce and as such this key group will be integral to many of the healthcare advances that will emerge from the Auckland Academic Health Alliance.
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