Applications for a share of a new $7.9 million research fund to improve the treatment of conditions like diabetes and asthma have opened.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said long-term conditions like diabetes, depression, asthma, cardiovascular disease and arthritis would be researched.

"It's estimated that two out of three New Zealand adults have at least one long-term condition. It is our leading cause of preventable death."

The new fund is a partnership between the Health Research Council, Ministry of Health and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.

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Budget 2016 contained an extra $97 million over four years for the Health Research Council, the organisation that manages the Government's investment in health research.