Pictured above from left to right: University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon, Dr Tim Angeli, Dr Nira Paskaranandavadivel, Associate Professor Peng Du, Professor Leo Cheng and Steven Joyce, Minister for Science and Innovation, at the Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Medal Awards.
Dr Nira Paskaranandavadivel is exploring the final frontier of the human body – the gut – with a lot of help from the MedTech CoRE.
Nira’s award-winning research focuses on high-resolution mapping methods to investigate the electrophysiology of the gastrointestinal tract. He says that one of the most rewarding aspects of his research is finding innovative ways to translate basic science into something that can help patients in the real world who suffer from gut disorders – which affect 40% of the population.
“I really enjoy the opportunity to work on basic science and translating it to clinical domains,” he says.
“My aim is to impact patient care through novel diagnostics and therapeutics.”
Nira is mostly based with the Gastrointestinal Research Group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, led by Professor Leo Cheng. He is also part of the Colorectal Research Group led by Professor Ian Bissett and Associate Professor Greg O’Grady from the University of Auckland.
Nira’s research is funded by grants from the Health Research Council and MedTech CoRE. He says being involved with the MedTech CoRE has made a significant difference, helping him connect with experts from around the country.
“The MedTech CoRE has made a huge impact on my research and collaborations. Through my MedTech seed project I have initiated collaborations with Associate Prof Andrew Lowe from AUT and that led to us submitting a joint manuscript for publication.”
“Also, with the assistance of the CoRE I have worked with Dr Gary Lim, who is a gastroenterologist at Christchurch Hospital and clinical lecturer in medicine at the Christchurch Clinical School, and Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee, who is a world leader in cough-reflux research, based at the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research at the University of Canterbury.
He says the support he has received from the CoRE has also enabled him to work with research groups in Australia, Europe and the USA through a number of collaborations.
“The seeding fund from MedTech CoRE has allowed me to showcase my research on an international platform,” he says.
“I recently received some new interest for collaborative work in the EU, and I’m looking forward to seeing where that opportunity leads.”
With the help of the CoRE, Nira has commercialised his research as part of the start-up company FlexiMap. Founded by an inter-disciplinary team of expert biomedical engineers and clinicians, FlexiMap develops innovative products and solutions – such as advanced flexible sensors – to help improve therapy for patients who suffer the burden of gut disorders.
Nira also has another upcoming commercialisation opportunity in development, focused on high-resolution colonic manometry and anorectal electromyography – so watch this space!