Mātai News

Sharing knowledge: Mātai Medical Research Institute to host two-day symposium

The Gisborne Herald, 16 November 2023

“The goal is to share knowledge to accelerate innovations that improve quality of life,” says Mātai chief executive and research director Dr Samantha Holdsworth.

Some of the best scientific minds from New Zealand and overseas will be in Gisborne next week to take part in a two-day symposium hosted by Mātai Medical Research Institute.


“The goal is to share knowledge to accelerate innovations that improve quality of life,” says Mātai chief executive and research director Dr Samantha Holdsworth.


The scientists, many of whom are leaders in their field, will talk about topics such as ADHD, concussion, Parkinson’s disease, brain injury, heart research, and health models for Pacific people.


One speaker is neuroscientist Dr Jerome Maller who will talk about the rapid rise in the clinical use and validation of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, particularly transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for the treatment of mental health disorders, such as major depression. Dr Maller, who is associate professor and clinical director for GE Healthcare,  has nearly 20 years of experience in the field of TMS and will be presenting an overview of this technique.


Dr Holdsworth said the symposium would serve as a catalyst for building strong interdisciplinary networks among professionals and our community to solve problems and innovate more quickly.


Various areas of expertise will be represented, ranging from neuroscience, radiology, psychology and psychiatry to medicine, community health and bioengineering.


Another key purpose of the symposium is to share with the community an update on outcomes of current Mātai research and future vision.


“We will also talk about the role that MRI and bioengineering plays in early detection and diagnosis of health conditions,” Dr Holdsworth said.


Morning sessions will focus on scientific talks, however, the organisers also encourage community attendance including high school students.


During the lunch break a poster session will be held showcasing university and Gisborne high school student posters. Afternoon and evening sessions will have a slightly increased focus on talks targeted for the community.


These afternoon sessions will include talks by scientists, researchers and community health leaders.


Topics will include language and the brain, Turanga Health’s resilience journey, guided brain surgery, Covid, mate wareware (dementia), heart  and muscle research, cancer therapy, Ngāti Porou future of Māori health, men’s mental health, the eye as a biomarker for health, methamphetamine recovery, prostate cancer and the Mātai roadmap to the future.


Institutions  and organisations represented by the speakers include the University of Auckland, the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the University of Washington, University of Western Ontario and Robarts Research Institute, National Imaging Facility (NIF), University of Queensland, the Centre for Brain Research, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR), Malaghan Institute, Turanga Health, Ngāti Porou Oranga, HEAR4U, University of Otago, Centre for Brain Research, and GE Healthcare.


Among the speakers will be Professor Sir Richard Faull, Professor Peter Hunter, Professor Katie McMahon, Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer, Associate Professor Hesam Jahanian, Emeritus Professor Terry Peters and Professor Azadeh Yazdan-Shahmorad.


A poster competition for local high school students run by the Mātai institute attracted an impressive number of entries. Sixteen students have been invited to present their posters on how science and technology will shape the future. University students and emerging researchers submitted posters on research conducted in Tairāwhiti or that could have a direct benefit to the community.  These will be  on display in a virtual gallery during the event.


■  Mātai Medical Research Institute symposium, Gisborne War Memorial Theatre, November 23 and 24, 8:30am – 7pm. The event is free and all are welcome.

■ For details on speakers and topics, and to register, see matai.org.nz/events