Covid-19 Research & Infectious Diseases Appeal

Covid-19 has changed everything. No life has been untouched by this pandemic. At the University of Auckland, we are committed to finding solutions to the biggest challenges that threaten us all.

From research into the effect the pandemic is having on Kiwis’ physical health and mental wellbeing, to how the virus spreads and what we can do to limit future outbreaks, researchers from across the University are coming together to broaden our understanding of Covid-19.

Despite the progress we’ve made, our understanding about the virus continues to evolve and there is still much crucial research to do.  

Here are just a few examples of the ground-breaking research taking place to combat Covid-19 and the impacts it is having. 

Long Covid - Dr Anna Brooks

Although most people infected with Covid-19 will recover completely and return to normal health, some people will suffer ‘Long Covid’, a term used when symptoms from the virus continue or develop after the initial infection period.

University of Auckland immunologist Dr Anna Brooks is focussing on understanding the immune dysfunction experienced by those with Long Covid.

She has identified an opportunity to establish a suite of tests right now for those with Long Covid. This will not only benefit New Zealanders, but the results will have a significant influence internationally too.   

Communicating the Science - Dr Siouxsie Wiles

Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles has been at the forefront of educating people about Covid-19. The microbiologist has played a key role in communicating the science behind the pandemic to media and the general public at large, breaking down complex concepts in an easy-to-understand way.

Dr Wiles studied medical microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a PhD in microbiology at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxford. She spent almost a decade at Imperial College London, before relocating to New Zealand as a Health Research Council Hercus Fellow in 2009.

She heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab, where she combines her twin passions to understand infectious diseases and to find new antibiotics.

Dr Wiles was named the 2021 New Zealander of the Year for her role in communicating the science behind Covid-19.

Watch Siouxsie's Raising the Bar: Home Edition presentation on her Superbugs research

Modelling the Covid-19 response - Dr Dion O'Neale

From left: James Gilmore, Steven Turnbull, Dion O'Neale, Oliver Maclaren, Emily Harvey, Frankie Patten-Elliott and David Wu.

The nation's Covid-19 response has relied heavily on contagion modelling.

Dr Dion O'Neale is leading work to build a unique model that mirrors the myriad connections of the entire population of New Zealand.

Read more

Covid and the virtual lung - Professor Merryn Tawhai

Physical models help to visualise how our lungs work.

Professor Merryn Tawhai's work on the virtual lung has led to a vital new tool for medical staff caring for patients hospitalised with serious Covid-related illness.

More about Professor Tawhai's work

Detecting Covid-19 antibodies in blood - University of Auckland serology team

Lauren Carlton, a co-author of a serology study published in April 2021

Associate Professor Nikki Moreland and her team in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, are adept at Covid-19 serology, testing that detects the presence of antibodies in blood. Earlier this year, they conducted the first nationwide survey to detect Covid-19 antibodies in blood, highlighting the success of New Zealand's efforts to eliminate the disease.

More about the survey

Unraveling the mystery of Covid-19 brain effects - Dr Helen Murray

What exactly does Covid-19 do to the brain?

It’s been estimated that a third of hospitalised patients have neurological symptoms. The most common are dizziness and headache but stroke may occur in as many as 5% of hospitalised cases, initial studies suggest.

Neuroscientist Helen Murray’s special expertise with a tiny part of the brain is helping unravel the mysteries of these neurological effects.

More about Dr Murray's work

Understanding the challenge of lockdowns on Kiwi families - the family and resilience well-being team at the University of Auckland

Researchers from the University of Auckland found that the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown placed considerable strain on families with loss of income, balancing work and childcare and social isolation.

Read more

Pandemic lockdowns and eating disorders

The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an increase in people presenting with serious eating disorders, according to a University of Auckland study.

The research backs media and anecdotal reports of a pandemic-linked surge in demand for inpatient and outpatient treatment and also highlights the risk of treatment services being stretched thin managing the serious, sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

Read more

Latest coronavirus news and opinion

Keep up to date with Covid-19 research and commentary from the University of Auckland.

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