A significant Lupus research study, the inaugural Arthritis New Zealand Lupus/ SLE Postdoctoral Fellowship has been awarded to Dr Chunhuan Lao

The Lupus Fellowship is a significant new research funding opportunity that has been made available through a generous bequest by the late Dorothy Ashbolt.

Dr Chunhuan Lao will examine the prevalence, treatment, outcomes and costs of Lupus/Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and compare the results by ethnicity, age group and socioeconomic status.

This project aims to fill the information gap by providing data on the burden of Lupus/SLE on the healthcare system, the characteristics of the Lupus/ SLE population, equity in access to treatment, and comparison of Lupus/SLE outcomes by ethnicity and with overseas outcomes.

Dr Lao will analyse and data-link the National Minimum dataset, the Pharmaceutical Collection, National Non-Admitted Patient Collection, Mortality Collection and Death Certificates to examine the prevalence, treatment, outcomes and costs of Lupus/SLE and compare the results by ethnicity, age group and socioeconomic status.

“It is a great honour to be granted the Lupus/SLE Postdoctoral Fellowship. I am very excited to start this research project to fill the information gap on Lupus in New Zealand.

I also deeply hope that this project will draw public and government attention to the needs of patients suffering from Lupus and improve the management and outcomes of Lupus in New Zealand,” says Dr Lao.

Dr Chunhuan Lao

Very little is known about the epidemiology of Lupus/SLE in New Zealand. There is no information on the ethnic difference in SLE prevalence, the major type of Lupus. Māori and Pacific patients with SLE have a higher risk of developing Lupus nephritis, but the factors contributing to this difference have not yet been identified.

The Lupus Fellowship

The purpose of the Fellowship is to provide significant financial support to emerging researchers in New Zealand to undertake research that has the potential to advance knowledge and address important gaps in the Lupus/SLE research field while also supporting people with Lupus/SLE within New Zealand.

Dr Lao is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Waikato and a scientist specialising in health economics and biostatistics.

“I have expertise in working with large datasets, including the National Minimum dataset, the National Non-Admitted Patient Collection, the Pharmaceutical Collection (PHARMS), and the National Mortality Collection.

I am privileged to work with committed clinician researchers working in rheumatology and renal disease. My long-term objectives are to become a national expert in the effectiveness and health economics of chronic diseases and their treatments.

Over the next five years, my goal is to lead a Health Research Council (HRC) project to study the variations in outcomes and the impact of arthritis on people’s lives using large high-quality datasets,” she says.

“This is the start of an exciting new journey to which I wish Dr Lao and Arthritis New Zealand every success.” – Peter Fields, Trustee of Dorothy Ashbolt’s Estate. 

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