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Newsletter, Summer 2017, University of Otago, Christchurch

Tuesday 12 December 2017 9:32am

One in five frail elderly are lonely

GeriatricstockphotothumbMore than 15,000 elderly New Zealanders are lonely, according to a world-first first study by Christchurch researchers. That equates to one in five frail elderly.

The results come from a national assessment of elderly in the community who need home services or are being considered for entry into home care.

Researcher and geriatrician Dr Hamish Jamieson says it is important to understand the scale of the problem as loneliness in the elderly has a negative impact on health, well-being and mortality.

Watch the 1 News item on the research
Read the full University of Otago, Christchurch media release, 14th December 2017

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A camp for children with Crohn's disease

Having a condition such as Crohn's disease can be challenging and isolating for children. That's why gut expert Professor Andrew Day helps organize an annual camp for children with inflammatory bowel conditions.

Camp Purple gives young New Zealanders the chance to meet others in the same situation, and have fun.

'It's about mud slides and flying foxes not learning about their condition. The campers rave about it, and often form ongoing friendships there,'' Andrew says.

He has recently become the Cure Kids Chair in Paediatric Research at the University of Otago. This means the charity supports his ongoing research into gut diseases in children.

Read about Camp Purple on the Crohn's & Colitis New Zealand website

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Low vitamin C levels in the middle-aged

Half a kiwifruit and a glass of kiwifruitOur researchers did the first ever study of vitamin C levels in middle-aged New Zealanders. They found 62 per cent of the 50-year-olds tested had inadequate levels of the important vitamin.

About 2% of study participants were vulnerable to scurvy because of their low vitamin C levels.

Researcher Dr Anitra Carr says people with lower levels of vitamin C have higher waist measurements, and scored higher on measures associated with diabetes. The solution: eat more fruit and vegetables.

Read the full Unversity of Otago, Christchurch media release, 10th November 2017

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Detecting aggressive melanomas

Martina Paumann-Page_thumbnailOne protein could play an important role in the spread of skin cancer to other parts of the body.

International scientists have found increased levels of the protein peroxidasin in cancerous tumours, with higher levels in invasive metastastic melanoma cells.

Dr Martina Paumann-Page is studying the role peroxidasin plays in skin cancer becoming 'invasive' - when melanoma cells become mobile and spread to other parts of the body. She and her colleagues hope to develop the first test of peroxidasin levels to identify patients at highest risk for early intervention.

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Scale of hoarding problem revealed

An estimated 35,000 New Zealanders are pathological hoarders. A further 56,000 are below the clinical threshold for the debilitating condition, but could worsen with age.

The statistics come from our Canterbury Healthy Ageing and Lifecourse (CHALICE) study - the first to quantify the problem in this country.

They found clinically severe hoarders are more likely to be single, female, clinically depressed and unemployed or receiving some form of income support.

Watch the 1 News item on the study
Read the full Unversity of Otago media release, 6th November 2017

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First Master of Nursing Science students graduate

Our Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies Master of Nursing Science (MNSc) programme is New Zealand's first two-year graduate entry Masters pathway to nursing registration. The programme is open to graduates of any degree. The students from our first intake will graduate this weekend.

Rachel Sanders, one of the graduands, chose MNSc after completing her Bachelor of Science (Hons) at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

Read about the Master of Nursing Science (MNSc) programme
Read Rachel's story

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Postgraduate research award

Our Pathology Department was awarded the University of Otago prize for the small department with the best postgraduate research culture. The Department hosts some 25 biomedical postgraduate research students, studying for Honours, Masters or PhD degrees.

As well as achieving academically, our postgraduate students like to compete with (and often beat) staff in a range of physical competitions, such as laser strike.

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