The financial growth of the NZSO meant it was able to fund awards for members from the early-2000s. While membership fees remained low, the Society had accumulated money through conference sponsorship and registration fees. They awarded the first NZSO-sponsored student travel grants in 2001.13
Student members had been involved in the NZSO since the late-1960s. The committee's decision to fund travel grants for students reflected the role of the Society as a 'practicing ground' for students to present their work as a poster or as an oral presentation. As Bridget Robinson explains, the meetings allowed students 'to get to know who the seniors are because it's relatively less expensive than going offshore'.14
In 2008, the executive committee also established the NZSO Translational Research Award of $5000. Parry Guilford was president at that time. He explains that while the Society had awarded prizes to students and trainees, they also wanted to offer an award for established researchers. The following year, Bill Wilson became the first person to receive the award.
The establishment of an award for translational research encapsulated the Society's aims to facilitate collaboration between scientists and clinicians.
Parry explains that when research is 'just driven by a scientist that's not well informed about clinical issues, you end up with a solution looking for a problem ... To do good translational research you have to be very well informed by the doctors'.15
Ben Lawrence also attested to the importance of translational research. Ben's main introduction to translational research came when he was an oncology registrar. He met with Bruce Baguley who spoke about his vision of clinicians and scientists working together and 'encouraging better questions and solutions'. Ben explains that translational research aims to:
effectively reduce the time taken for a scientific discovery to get patient exposure. At a basic level that means you either use patient samples and their clinical outcomes to test these biomarkers very early, or you're trying to shorten the time from development of a drug to the delivery of a drug to the patient. So, true translational research is usually a biological question that has patient involvement in the workup of that question.16
For the NZSO to continue to facilitate translational research, the meetings had to remain relevant for clinicians and scientists amidst the increasing number of specialised meetings both groups needed to attend.