Lipid & Diabetes Research Group

Who are we?

We are an independently funded research group based at Christchurch Hospital and the University of Otago, Christchurch. The Group was established in 1985.

Current Staff
Russell Scott
Physician and Research Director

Physician Diabetes Services
Physician Lipid Disorders (Dept Cardiology)
Physician Internal Medicine
Director: Lipid and Diabetes


Alison Luckey (BM, Dip Pharm Med, MFPM)

Alison is a UK medical graduate with postgraduate training in Pharmaceutical Medicine. She is a Member of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, London and the Society of Pharmaceutical Medicine, London. Her previous experience includes clinical pharmacology research physician both in UK and NZ and Medical Advisor (Cardiology) for Solvay Healthcare in the UK. She currently works in Clinical Research (phase I & IIa) and part time for the Lipid & Diabetes Research group (phase II & III). She has been Deputy Chair of the Health and Disability (Upper South A) Ethics Committee for the past two years.


Bobby McEwan (RGN)
Clinical Trials Co-ordinator

Bobby is a registered nurse, having joined the research group in 2002 following a lengthy career in Renal Nursing. She coordinates pharmaceutical and investigator lead clinical trials. Current studies involve glucose, lipid and blood pressure lowering therapies for Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease. These trials range from 9 months up to 7 years.


Nikki Hurndell (RGON, BN, PG Cert Nursing)
Clinical Nurse Specialist

Nikki is the Clinical Nurse Specialist, Cardiovascular Prevention & Lipid Disorders Clinic (Dept of Cardiology). This involves cardiovascular risk factor identification, assessment, management and patient education. Specific areas of responsibility include co-ordinating clinics & family screening of those with identified genetic lipid disorders such as Familial Hypercholesterolaemia & Familial Defective Apo B.


Jinny Willis (BSc (Hons), PhD)

Jinny joined the Lipid & Diabetes Research Group in 1992. Her major research interests include the epidemiology and immunogenetic characterisation of type 1 diabetes and identification of individuals at risk for progression to type 1 diabetes. Jinny maintains the incidence register for type 1 diabetes presenting in Canterbury children and adolescents. The data is submitted to the WHO DiaMond study, an international collaboration monitoring global rates of presentation of childhood diabetes. Since 1990 a blood sample has been collected from every consenting new case of type 1 diabetes in the Canterbury region aged less than 20 years for determination of islet autoantibodies and for characterisation of HLA-DQ susceptibility alleles. An extension of this work is the determination of these markers to identify first degree relatives at risk for developing type 1 diabetes. This work has resulted in participation in two major international collaborative studies, Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet and the Type 1 Diabetes Genetic Consortium. Jinny operates the New Zealand Data Centre for TrialNet. Jinny has involvement with the Canterbury Register of Insulin Treated Diabetic Individuals and completed a prevalence survey based in retail pharmacies in 2002. Other research interests include the genetic origins of type 2 diabetes and the functional role of HDL in protection against cardiovascular disease.


Chris Florkowski (MA, MD, MRCP(UK), FRACP, FRCPA)
Clinical Research Physician

Chris is a Clinical Research Physician who has been affiliated to the Group since 1993. He does clinical sessions in Diabetes and Lipid Disorders. He is a Consultant Chemical Pathologist to Canterbury Health Laboratories and an Adjunct Associate Professor. He has an extensive background in diabetes research, having written an MD thesis on Complications of Diabetes and over 100 publications emanating from broad metabolic interests.

hris is an examiner for the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and Vice-President (Education and Training) of the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists. He is a Member of the Australasian Creatinine Consensus Working Group, the Expert Panel for Clinical Commenting of the RCPA-EQA Programme and on the Editorial Board of Clinical Biochemist Reviews. Chris is also a Corresponding Member of the Committee of Evidence Based Laboratory Medicine of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry (IFCC).

As well as providing ongoing Physician support to the Clinical Trials programme, Chris has undertaken studies of outcomes and natural history of both type 1 and type 2 Diabetes, and has published and presented extensively at International Diabetes Symposia. Ongoing projects include the investigation of the role of Co-enzyme Q10 in endothelial dysfunction and the metabolic syndrome.


Jo Young (BSc, MSc)

Jo is studying vascular endothelial function using forearm plethysmography, brachial artery ultrasound and pulse wave analysis. Jo is currently involved in the assessment of vascular function in people with the metabolic syndrome, patients with high cholesterol levels and healthy people. She is also involved in studies that are designed to examine the effect of dietary and drug therapies on improving vascular function in patients with high cardiovascular risk. 


Brett Shand (PhD)

Brett’s clinical and laboratory-based research is on the cardiovascular complications of diabetes. His main research interest involves studying the role of fat cell hormones in the development of obesity, the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. He also carries out studies on diabetic kidney disease and the role of haemorheology (blood flow) and inflammation in blood vessel diseases.


Annette Reinheimer (RGON, BSc (Hons))
Study Coordinator

Annette joined the team in 2006 after several years of being involved in clinical research both here and in the UK. Currently Annette coordinates research studies that are funded by pharmaceutical companies investigating new compounds for the treatment of diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. She also is assisting with academic studies from within the research group.

Patrice McGregor (RGON)
Clinical Trials Co-ordinator

Patrice is a registered nurse with a background of endocrine research at The Princess Margaret Hospital and Christchurch Public Hospital before joining the group in 1997.She coordinates pharmaceutical and investigator lead clinical trials, with current studies including therapies for Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease both long-term and short term.


Zarnia Morrison (BN, RCPN)
Clinical Trials Co-ordinator

Zarnia is a registered comprehensive nurse employed as a research coordinator of pharmaceutical clinical trials. Current projects are a 5 year study evaluating the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes in people with impaired glucose tolerance and a 7 month study evaluating a new diabetes medication used in combination with metformin and insulin.


Sarah Plot (BN, RCPN)
Nurse Specialist Study Coordinator

Sarah co-ordinates clinical research studies that are funded by pharmaceutical companies. These include new agents for the treatment of diabetes and hypertension. This involves completing ethics applications, recruiting study participants and organising and running clinics. The duration of the trials range from 8 month to 3 years. 


Peta Taylor
Post-graduate Student

Peta joined the Lipid and Diabetes Research Group as a PhD student in 2007 after completing an honours degree at the University of Canterbury. Peta is investigating HDL function in participants with very high levels of HDL in the presence and absence of cardiovascular disease.



Current Activities

Purpose of our Research Program

Recent Publications and Reports

Are you interested in knowing more about our activities?

then email: ldrg@cdhb.govt.nz

Diabetes Centre

The Diabetes Centre is involved in research into new therapies for diabetes and prevention of diabetes complications. These trials are undertaken by the Diabetes Centre physicians, nurses and dietitians. Our Research Nurse, Deborah Kendall co-ordinates many of these studies. Trials presently underway relate to new types of insulin and new delivery devices in patients with Type 1 diabetes.