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Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health: A University of Otago Research Theme investigating the implications of our past on human health today

We are investigating fundamental questions of the human past that have pressing implications for human health today in Aotearoa, the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The University of Otago is the only institution internationally to house leaders in health research in these regions.

Through the melding of prehistoric health and current biomedical research (evolutionary medicine), our understanding of health issues can be assessed, including:

  • Non-communicable and infectious disease
  • Social disparity
  • Dietary and cultural change

Drawing on multi-disciplinary approaches we will build new, and strengthen existing, research relationships. This will increase our research capacity and allow us to showcase our international leadership.

Contact us by email:

Research disciplines

Postgraduate Student Development Research Day Friday, 9 December 2016. Find out more at:

We have gathered leading and emerging researchers in disciplines including:

  • Archaeology
  • Biological anthropology
  • Child and public health
  • Dental epidemiology
  • Evolutionary medicine
  • Heritage management
  • History
  • Medical (social) anthropology
  • Sociology

Our people

Our steering committee includes:

Dr Sian Halcrow (Department of Anatomy)

Co-director, and research interests in infant and child health and disease in prehistoric Southeast Asia.

Associate Professor Hallie Buckley (Department of Anatomy)

Co-director, and research interests in palaeopathology in New Zealand, Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Professor Tony Merriman (Department of Biochemistry)

Research interests in genetic and environmental causes of gout in New Zealand and the Pacific.

Mr Tuari Potiki (Office of Māori Development)

Cultural advisor.

Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga ( Associate Dean Pacific, Division of Health Sciences)

Cultural advisor.

More about our researchers:

Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health principal investigators