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News archive

Message from the Vice-Chancellor

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Friday, 15 March 2019

The University of Otago community stands shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community. Following the tragic events in Christchurch last Friday, several events are being held on the Dunedin campus on Thursday, 21 March.

Number of poisoning-related deaths in New Zealand remain high

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Tuesday, 12 March 2019

While there has been a decline in carbon monoxide deaths in New Zealand, the number of deaths relating to poisoning remain high with new research revealing a surprising number of deaths involving two prescription medicines, zopiclone and clozapine.

Sniffing out prostate cancer in New Zealand

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Monday, 4 March 2019

The University of Otago and K9 Medical Detection NZ are working together to investigate using dogs as a diagnostic tool to sniff out prostate cancer.

Train station signs send weak smokefree signal

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Friday, 22 February 2019

More than 20 per cent of the 54 railway stations in the lower North Island have no smokefree signs at all and many others have signs of poor quality, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington have found.

Are we closing the health gap?

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Thursday, 21 February 2019

Listen to Professor Louise Signal, Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, participate in a radio panel interview considering progress in addressing health inequities.

Are New Zealand’s giant birds of prey just exiled Aussies?

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

An international team of researchers including scientists from the University of Otago and Canterbury Museum has brought new knowledge around how the world’s largest eagle came to live in New Zealand. The study published this week in “Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution” traces the Haast’s eagle back to Australia, but it was only after more than two million years of evolution in New Zealand that the bird became a global giant. 

Otago research reveals need to ensure drug trials for anxiety are carried out on appropriate patients

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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

University of Otago psychiatry experts are concerned some medications used to treat anxiety may appear ineffective because they are not being tested in appropriate patients.

New Zealand leads global effort to control rheumatic fever

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Monday, 11 February 2019

A three-year project aimed at pinpointing the most effective ways to prevent and control rheumatic fever and associated heart disease in New Zealand is being launched tomorrow (Tuesday 12 February) at the University of Otago, Wellington.

Christchurch Dean made a Fellow of the world’s oldest life science organisation

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

The Dean of the University of Otago, Christchurch, has become a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology – only the fourth New Zealander to receive the honour. The Academy is the leadership group of the American Society for Microbiology, the world’s oldest and largest life science organisation.

‘Choosing Wisely’ reduces unnecessary tests and antibiotic use, study finds

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Tuesday, 22 January 2019

A Hutt Valley District Health Board campaign to cut the number of urine tests being carried out on hospital patients not only significantly reduced the number of unnecessary tests being ordered but also lowered the level of antibiotic prescribing, a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal has found.

Two winning teams from TRG competition

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

Two winning teams have emerged from this year’s University of Otago Translational Research Grant (TRG) competition – one in Dunedin and one in Christchurch.

Otago graduate influential in Africa

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Thursday, 13 December 2018

The first PhD student to graduate from the University of Otago’s Centre for International Health (CIH) has been named the most influential woman in the education and training sector of business and government in part of Africa.

First nationwide study of listeria in mothers and babies

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The first study of the burden of listeria in pregnant New Zealanders and their babies has found reassuringly low rates of the infection – indicating food safety warnings are working to prevent unnecessary cases of miscarriage, still birth, and meningitis in babies infected in the womb.

Licence to Swill: James Bond’s drinking over six decades

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Monday, 10 December 2018

He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia’s Christmas issue.

Otago study forces a rethink on population history of Ibiza

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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Otago researchers have discovered a rare case of genetic population discontinuity on the Mediterranean Island of Ibiza. Essentially, the original genetic signature of the founding female population, handed down through centuries on Ibiza has been replaced, prompting a change in understanding of the island’s genetic history.

Otago invention helps patients manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Friday, 23 November 2018


As increasing numbers of New Zealanders are being diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), University of Otago researchers have developed a smartphone application (app) proven to be as effective as clinical care in helping patients manage their disease.

Otago graduate helps separate conjoined twins

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Friday, 16 November 2018

A mix of relief, pride and protectiveness is how paediatric surgeon and Otago graduate Dr Michael Nightingale feels after being part of the team to successfully separate conjoined twins in Melbourne last week.

UK Fleming Prize to Otago microbiologist

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

A University of Otago molecular microbiologist, Associate Professor Peter Fineran, has been awarded the United Kingdom Microbiology Society’s 2019 Fleming Prize.

Boost in training health professionals rurally under ‘virtual’ school proposal

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Friday, 9 November 2018

The National Interprofessional School of Rural Health that has been proposed recently is not a separate education provider, but rather an “enabling body” that would lever off the expertise of the existing tertiary institutions to undertake more teaching and research in rural communities, working in partnership with local health services.

Sobering insights into alcohol marketing and Māori children

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Innovative camera research has revealed that New Zealand children are exposed to alcohol marketing in their residential and school neighbourhoods. The collaborative research by the Universities of Otago and Auckland, found children’s exposure to alcohol marketing was higher in neighbourhoods with greater numbers of alcohol outlets and for Māori participants.

Professor Tony Blakely wins 2018 Chaffer Medal

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

One of the country’s leading epidemiologists and public health researchers has been awarded this year’s Chaffer Medal for distinguished performance in health research.

Otago’s NEXT magazine Woman of the Year

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Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman of the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington, stepped into a world of unaccustomed glitz and glamour when she was judged NEXT magazine’s 2018 Woman of the Year at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland earlier this month.

Study investigates link between loneliness and age in elderly New Zealanders

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Monday, 29 October 2018

Loneliness is associated with reduced quality of life and morbidity and mortality and typically worsens with aging. Loneliness may be considered a public health hazard because of its association with a wide range of conditions, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, depression and insomnia.

Portrait of Peter Crampton unveiled

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Thursday, 25 October 2018

A portrait of Professor Peter Crampton – painted to celebrate his contribution to the Otago Medical School and the Division of Health Sciences – was unveiled at a gathering at the Hunter Centre yesterday.

Flavoured capsule cigarettes pose a threat to smokefree goals

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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

New research from ASPIRE2025, a University of Otago research theme, challenges tobacco companies’ claims they are working towards a smokefree world and suggests young people are vulnerable to tobacco companies’ product innovations.

New blood test may help rule out heart attack within 15 minutes

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Thursday, 18 October 2018

A preliminary study of a new, quick and accurate, bedside blood test performed in Emergency Departments (ED) could help reduce the time it takes to rule out heart attacks. The study findings have been published this morning in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Cardiology).

Six Otago researchers recognised in NZ research honours

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Thursday, 18 October 2018

University of Otago Research Fellow Helen Taylor’s science communication around conservation genetics and threatened species has earned her recognition at this year’s New Zealand Research Honours.

Recognition for rising research stars

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Monday, 15 October 2018

Six rising research stars at the University of Otago have been recognised through the University’s annual Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research announced today.

Otago research shows diet has little influence on precursor to gout

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Thursday, 11 October 2018

Dietary factors have a far smaller influence on urate levels (a precursor to gout) than previously envisaged, new University of Otago research reveals.

Researchers call for end to fat stigma

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Thursday, 11 October 2018

Researchers are using World Obesity Day today to call for an end to the stigma which fat people experience in their daily lives.

Obituary: Emeritus Professor David Fergusson remembered

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Friday, 5 October 2018

Staff across the University, particularly those based at the University’s Christchurch campus, are remembering Emeritus Professor David Murray Fergusson, who passed away overnight on Wednesday, aged 74.

Influential teachers celebrated at Dunedin School of Medicine

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

Award-winning teachers from Dunedin and Invercargill were reminded that their influence extends well beyond the classroom, during the 2018 Dunedin School of Medicine (DSM) teaching awards held yesterday afternoon.

Tackling diet-related disease in New Zealand

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Monday, 3 September 2018

Unhealthy diet is the leading preventable risk for poor health in New Zealand. Diet-related diseases (and how we manage them) is becoming a pressing issue for the country.

Otago scientist wins award for cancer research

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Monday, 27 August 2018

University of Otago scientist Dr Andrew Das has won the Roche Translational Cancer Research Fellowship to further his work as part of a research team investigating the role of epigenetics in leukaemia.

Honing in on the key ingredients for successful self-management of chronic pain

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Friday, 24 August 2018

The outlook for the one in five New Zealanders with persistent or chronic pain has the potential to be more positive according to an extensive study review by researchers from the School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Wellington (UOW) and Pain Management Service, Capital Coast District Health Board.

New Zealanders using more antipsychotics, especially older females

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Friday, 17 August 2018

The prescription of drugs designed to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions has increased in New Zealand by almost 50 per cent in less than a decade, according to the first local study of its kind.

3MT finals showcase up-and-coming talent

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Wednesday, 8 August 2018

A PhD candidate who is investigating the emotional responses of clinicians who deal with suicidal patients has won the PhD category of Otago’s 2018 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Major fundamental changes required to achieve health equity

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Monday, 9 July 2018

In comparing efforts to address health inequities, researchers in Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ) and the United States (US) have found that both countries are failing to align policy with evidence-based approaches that could help achieve equity.

Junk food dominates NZ sport

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Monday, 9 July 2018

Junk food dominates New Zealand sport venues, according to new research led by the University of Otago, Wellington.

Otago research reveals alarming rise of obesity in New Zealand

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Body Mass Index (BMI) of New Zealanders is continuing to rise and on current trends, two million New Zealanders will be considered clinically obese by 2038 up from 1.1 million in 2015, new University of Otago research reveals.

Hunt for Nessie captures hearts and minds

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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Otago’s Professor Neil Gemmell is now in Scotland, with teams of international media waiting to follow his every move as he searches for DNA evidence of the Loch Ness Monster.

Medical students striving to be more socially accountable

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Student representatives from the country’s two medical schools recently met to share ideas on how the medical curriculum can become more socially accountable to ensure medical students become competent doctors, advocates and agents of change in society.

Unit to provide statistical support to staff, students

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

No statistical survey will ever be perfect, the director of the University of Otago’s biostatistics unit, Robin Turner, says.

However, health surveys carried out by Otago staff and students will hopefully be as close to perfect as they can thanks to the work of the biostatistics unit.

Health Research Excellence Awards celebrate staff

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Thursday, 31 May 2018

University of Otago Curekids Professor of Paediatric Genetics Stephen Robertson is considered an outstanding leader in his field internationally, and last night his achievements were formally recognised closer to home at the Health Research Excellence Awards in Dunedin.

Cold New Zealand council housing getting an upgrade

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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

University of Otago, Wellington researchers are advocating for standards to bring all New Zealand housing up to the World Health Organization minimum standard which recommends indoor temperature of 18 degrees celcius.

Cannabis: What's the harm?

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Friday, 25 May 2018

A researcher of the effects of cannabis says any law change to free up the drug’s availability needs to take account of scientifically-robust data showing regular use in young people is associated with a higher risk of mental health issues, use of other substances, and lower levels of achievement.

Education key to hauora and success

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Monday, 21 May 2018

A Christchurch medical student is playing a key role in a Ngāi Tahu-backed initiative to keep rangatahi (youth) from the West Coast in education.

Obesity a tough topic for GPs, Otago research reveals

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Friday, 18 May 2018

New University of Otago research highlights the difficulties for GPs of discussing obesity with patients who are overweight and signals the need for resources to support them and other community health providers in this role.

New ideas for detecting cancer get go-ahead from HRC

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Thursday, 17 May 2018

A University of Otago researcher focused on the earlier detection of cancer has just secured her first significant grant from the Health Research Council, valued at $249,984, for her novel proposal for diagnosing bowel cancer.

Otago scientist involved in new tool to classify severity of Salmonella

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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

A University of Otago expert is part of an international collaboration that has created a new machine learning tool that can detect whether emerging strains of the bacterium Salmonella are more likely to cause life-threatening bloodstream infections rather than only food poisoning.

News of inner-city site for new Dunedin Hospital welcomed

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Friday, 4 May 2018

University of Otago leaders are pleased Cabinet has approved an inner-city Dunedin location with close proximity to the University precinct, on which to build the city’s new $1.2 to $1.4 billion hospital.

New monitoring method could help Māori cancer patients

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

A simple blood test could provide a significant step to reducing health inequities for Māori cancer patients.

Biochemistry PhD student already saving Māori lives

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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A University of Otago biochemistry PhD student is credited with saving lives, thanks to his new research finding a genetic mutation that is linked to high rates of Māori stomach cancer.

Taxing sugary drinks a no-brainer for New Zealand

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

On 1 April 2018, the United Kingdom introduced a sugary drinks tax, an important public health measure that University of Otago, Wellington, public health researchers believe should be happening in New Zealand too.

Yoghurt may reduce eczema and allergy in infancy

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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Yoghurt given to infants in the first year of life may protect them from developing eczema and allergy, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington, and the University of Auckland have found.

Summer Studentship programme 2017/2018

UOW campus building

Monday, 26 March 2018

University of Otago, Wellington hosts the Summer Studentship Programme each year.  The Department of Medicine has had a number of students this summer participating in 10 week research projects.

New Zealand-led heart failure findings debunk world medical view

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Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Thousands of New Zealanders can look forward to improvements in treatment and care of heart failure following new research findings that look set to alter the clinical approach and health care planning for heart failure globally.

Out of prison and back to smoking?

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Friday, 23 February 2018

A lack of support means many prisoners relapse back to smoking on release, despite many wanting to stay smokefree, a new study has found.

Christchurch researcher easing the pain of gout

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Friday, 16 February 2018

A Christchurch rheumatologist has won Medicines New Zealand's top prize for research into how increasing dosages of gout medicines can dramatically improve patients’ lives.

Considering public health issues- the 22nd Public Health Summer School

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Monday, 5 February 2018

Leading international and New Zealand health experts will be in Wellington to participate in the 22nd Public Health Summer School run by the University of Otago, Wellington in February. The Public Health Summer School will be officially opened by the Minister of Health, Hon Dr David Clark on 7 February.

Surgeons look to do the right thing by their patients

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Friday, 2 February 2018

New Zealand surgeons are often prepared to treat an abnormality discovered during an elective surgical procedure in the absence of patient consent, especially if the patient’s health is threatened and the risk of the additional procedure is low.

Mind the gap – public and expert views on cancer risk

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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

There are substantial gaps between expert recommendations and public knowledge about risk factors for cancer, though these gaps are closing for some cancer types, according to new University of Otago research.

Predator Free 2050 has major benefits for human health

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Monday, 15 January 2018

The Predator Free 2050 campaign to rid New Zealand of rats and possums will have major benefits for human health as well as for native plants and animals, says University of Otago, Wellington public health researcher Dr Mary McIntyre.

Otago breakthrough in diabetic heart disease

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Friday, 5 January 2018

The molecule responsible for heart disease in diabetics has been identified by University of Otago researchers, greatly improving chances of survival.

How do firearms, floods and flu impact public health?

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Firearms and public health, impacts of New Zealand’s most common natural hazard - flooding, and lessons from the 1918 flu pandemic are just some of the courses and seminar talks being offered by the University of Otago, Wellington’s Public Health Summer School.

First New Zealand study of pathological hoarding

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Monday, 6 November 2017

An estimated 35,000 New Zealanders have clinically severe hoarding behaviour, according to the country’s first snapshot of the debilitating mental illness. A further 56,000 people are likely to have sub-clinical hoarding behaviours that could later develop into a diagnosable condition.

Otago health researchers gain career development awards

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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Four up–and–coming University of Otago researchers have each been awarded around $500,000 from the Health Research Council (HRC) to pursue world-class projects aimed at improving New Zealander’s health and wellbeing and contributing to international progress in these areas.

Osteoarthritis no knees-up for many NZers – Otago research

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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) causes adult New Zealanders to lose a total of 467,240 quality-adjusted years of life (QALY) across their lifetimes, new University of Otago research shows. One QALY equates to one year in perfect health.

Opportunity to learn about 3D printing with local expert

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Associate Professor Tim Woodfield has developed a 3-day introductory 3D Printing in Medicine course for the local medical community. It will run November 20 to 22 in Christchurch and include talks by international and national experts.

Improving assessment of acute abdominal pain

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Friday, 6 October 2017

Surgical admissions for people with abdominal pain to Wellington Hospital’s department of general surgery have nearly doubled over the past decade, a University of Otago, Wellington (UOW) study has found.

Christchurch student develops App prototype

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

A student from Otago’s Christchurch campus has taken part in a 48-hour competition to develop a medical education learning application at the world’s biggest and best medical education conference.

October 2017 digital calendar

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Monday, 2 October 2017

A rainbow appeared in the sky behind a distillery in Scotland just as Alice Milnes began photographing it – making the photo which has become this month’s digital calendar.