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Thursday 18 December 2014 8:49pm

OSMS awards all winners image
All of the winners of 2014 OSMS Awards, back row (left to right) Greg Cook, Matt Bevin, Kiel Hards and Chris Greening; centre row (left to right) Stephen Sowerby, Neil Gemmell, Warren Tate, Sally McCormick and Peter Stockwell; front row (left to right) Justine Fuller, Annika Bokor, Pete Jones and Tony Merriman. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

A researcher who incorporates Māori values into his research – holding a karakia ceremony for his research participants in his laboratory every six weeks when disposing of DNA synthesis byproducts – has won the inaugural Māori/Pasifika Research Award at this year's Otago School of Medical Sciences (OSMS) Awards.

Each year the OSMS celebrate its top teachers, researchers and support staff – with 12 awards presented at a ceremony at the Hunter Centre yesterday.

Tony Merriman and Mark Brunton image
The winner of the OSMS inaugural Māori/Pasifika Research Award Associate Professor Tony Merriman of Biochemistry with Otago's Research Manager (Māori) Mark Brunton. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

Associate Professor Tony Merriman of Biochemistry won the Māori/Pasifika Research Award in recognition of the meaningful relationships he has built up with Māori and Pasifika public health groups over the last seven years, particularly in the area of genetic and environmental causes of gout.

At the heart of Associate Professor Merriman's contribution to Māori health has been his seven-year partnership with Ngati Porou Hauora (based in Gisborne) on an ongoing project entitled “Genetic and environmental causes of gout and related comorbidities”.

The project could only commence after he addressed a series of policy criteria that included demonstrating that the project would be conducted in a culturally sensitive way, and that whānau and hapū would be involved in designing the research.

The karakia ceremony is just one way he directly incorporates these Māori values into his research. The ceremony is held every six weeks by the University Chaplain, Greg Hughson, in Associate Professor Merriman's laboratory.

"The award winners for 2014 are an outstanding group and a highlight of this ceremony has been the opportunity to recognise academic and general staff and students from across the OSMS."

OSMS Dean Professor Vernon Ward says Associate Professor Merriman's achievements are outstanding and applauds his “world class research programme that integrates awareness and responsibility towards Māori”.

Another researcher from Biochemistry, Professor Warren Tate won this year's Award for Service to the School.

The Award citation states Professor Tate has made an “outstanding and sustained contribution to the OSMS above and beyond the call of duty”.

Professor Tate was appointed to the Department of Biochemistry as a Lecturer in 1975 and promoted to Professor in 1989. He was Head of Department from 2002-2005. In 2006 he was awarded the University's Distinguished Research Medal.

Professor Ward says Professor Tate is one of New Zealand's top researchers and has contributed to his Department, the OSMS, the University and to New Zealand science over a long and distinguished career.

“It is a privilege to be able to recognise Professor Tate's contribution with this award.”

Other award winners were:

Professor Neil Gemmell (Anatomy) - OSMS Distinguished Researcher of the Year 2014
Dr Stephen Sowerby (Biochemistry) - OSMS Commercial Research Award 2014
Dr Pete Jones (Physiology) - OSMS Emerging Researcher Award 2014
Associate Professor Sally McCormick (Biochemistry) - Distinguished Academic Teacher 2014
Dr Annika Bokor (Biochemistry) - Distinguished Teaching Fellow/PPF Science 2014
Dr Matt Bevin (Physiology) - Distinguished Teaching Fellow/PPF Professional Programmes 2014
Justine Fuller (Physiology) - OSMS Research Support Staff Award 2014
Dr Peter Stockwell (Biochemistry) - OSMS Distinguished Research Support Staff Award 20
Allan Mitchell (Anatomy) - OSMS Sustained Research Support Staff Award 2014
Professor Greg Cook (Microbiology and Immunology) - OSMS Best Paper Award 2014
Professor Vernon Ward warmly congratulates all of the winners.

“The awards presented at this ceremony and the many accolades won by staff and students in the Otago School of Medical Sciences over the past year showcase the strength in research and teaching within the School,” he says. “The award winners for 2014 are an outstanding group and a highlight of this ceremony has been the opportunity to recognise academic and general staff and students from across the OSMS.”

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