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Thursday, 5 March 2020

Professor Peter McIntyre
Professor Peter McIntyre.

An Otago Professor's “distinguished service to medicine, medical education, child and adolescent health and professional bodies” was cited in the latest Australian Honours list, announced at the end of January.

Professor Peter McIntyre, of the Department of Women's and Children's Health, was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), which is the second highest level of award in Australia, equivalent to CNZM in New Zealand.

“Although it was wonderful for me and my family [to receive the honour], I feel the award is primarily a recognition of contributions by whole teams, consisting of many people. I'm also humbled by the knowledge that there are many others equally or more worthy.”

Professor McIntyre moved to Dunedin – where he is “loving the mountains, the sea and yes the climate” - with his wife Fiona, an Otago medical graduate, and younger son at the end of 2017. He joined the Department of Women's and Children's Health in the Dunedin School of Medicine as Honorary Professor in 2018, with a permanent part-time appointment from 2019.

He is qualified as a paediatrician, specialising in infectious diseases (FRACP) and a public health physician (FAFPHM), with his research, stemming from his PhD, primarily in the epidemiology of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Professor McIntyre was the second Director of Australia's National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) during a period of unprecedented growth from 2005 to 2017. He continues in a part time role as Professorial Fellow with NCIRS, having been a Professor in the Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health and the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney since 2004.

"Looking back on my career, I'm profoundly grateful for the opportunities I've had. I'm also excited about new opportunities here at Otago..."

In Australia, Professor McIntyre made major contributions to immunisation policy at the national level and in the state of New South Wales, receiving the National Immunisation Achievement Award from the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) in 2018. Internationally, he was appointed to the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, the peak immunisation advisory group for the World Health Organisation, in 2018 and is particularly recognised for his research in the prevention of pertussis and pneumococcal disease through vaccines, with a total of more than 400 publications.

He has brought his passion for immunisation research to Otago and was “delighted” to receive his first New Zealand research grant from the Lotteries Board at the end of last year to investigate immunity to measles in pregnant women and young infants in New Zealand.

“New Zealand has an excellent system of immunisation overall and achieved a world-first in its response to a large meningococcal B epidemic in the early 2000s,” he says.

“However, diseases like pertussis and meningococcal disease still cause hospitalisation, disability and death disproportionately in Maori, Pasifika and children in higher deprivation areas of the country.

“Equitable access to vaccines remains a challenge. A good example is the Meningitis B vaccine, available on the private market at a cost of hundreds of dollars, but out of reach for those at highest risk.”

But most importantly, he believes now is the time to focus primarily on giving back.

“Looking back on my career, I'm profoundly grateful for the opportunities I've had. I'm also excited about new opportunities here at Otago, both to foster the excitement of medical students in learning their profession and to help medical graduates achieve success in their professional and research careers.”

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