Media release 28 June 2017 | The depth and breadth of health research taking place at Counties Manukau Health – in the hospital as well as in the community – was recently celebrated during Research Week 2017, hosted by the Ko Awatea Research and Evaluation Office.

A highlight during Research Week was the opening speech delivered by respiratory physician Dr Conroy Wong, in which he discussed research from the perspective of his distinguished career and also presented advice to participants on how to successfully undertake research.

Medicine was a career that chose Dr Wong. He always knew he wanted to become a doctor. In 1999, after a period studying and working in Nottingham, UK, he joined CM Health. “I always planned to return to NZ and I liked the culture at Middlemore Hospital”. A significant part of this decision was driven by the fact that Professor Harry Rea (respiratory physician, clinical researcher and Professor of Integrated Care and Medicine, based at the South Auckland Clinical Campus) was leading both the Medicine Department and the South Auckland Clinical School (University of Auckland) at the time. “I have a great deal of respect for Harry and he was instrumental in my career”. The challenge of being a part of a new and developing respiratory unit also played a substantial role in the decision.

After 18 years working here, Dr Wong easily lists a variety of factors that make his work gratifying to him. “I enjoy interacting with patients and staff, working with my supportive colleagues, the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges, the variety, teaching, and research”, he says.

He is proud to have helped to develop and grow our respiratory unit as clinical head (a position he held until 2014). “Many people have contributed to this and I like that our unit has a culture of support, learning and teaching, and interest in providing a quality service”. Another great achievement was the research study EMBRACE, which evaluated the effect of the macrolide antibiotic, azithromycin, in bronchiectasis. “This study was a mammoth effort from many dedicated people and was published in The Lancet in 2012”, he celebrates.

Dr Wong also received an award during Research Week 2017. “This was a collective effort of many people. Researchers at Middlemore, Waikato and Auckland City Hospitals evaluated the effect of a long-acting inhaled bronchodilator (tiotropium) in patients with bronchiectasis”. The study showed that, in contrast to the hypothesis, tiotropium does not improve clinical outcomes in bronchiectasis. Dr Wong believes that this is one of the reasons why research is so important - the result of a study is not always what one might expect and this has important implications for patients.

“Research changed the way I think and my perspective on clinical problems. It stimulates clear thinking, which allows evaluation of current practices and processes and leads to a rational approach to new solutions to problems”, he says.

“CM Health has provided critically needed and important funding for researchers at Middlemore Hospital. It’s very important to continue to support and grow research at MMH. This will be an investment in the future that will reap large rewards in the years to come for the hospital, staff and patients”, finalises Dr Wong.

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