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News archive

Damp and mouldy housing new measure in latest deprivation index

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Thursday, 30 January 2020

Damp and mouldy housing has been included as an indicator of socioeconomic deprivation in New Zealand by University of Otago researchers developing the latest version of the New Zealand Index of Socioeconomic Deprivation (NZDep2018).

Otago global health institute invests in research with Fiji and East Timor

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Monday, 13 January 2020

The Otago Global Health Institute, a flagship research centre of the University of Otago, is investing in new research initiatives in collaboration with the Fiji National University and the National University of East Timor to help address health problems in these countries.

Ancient dwarfism skeleton tells story of acceptance

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Friday, 20 December 2019

A remarkable 5000-year-old skeleton suggests human dwarfism was both accepted and respected in life and death in ancient China, research by a University of Otago bio-archaeologist shows.

He Kete Kōrero – Summer 2019

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Wednesday, 18 December 2019


Welcome to the Summer 2019–2020 edition of He Kete Kōrero, with recent highlights from the Wellington campus.

Experiences of Boko Haram women focus of PhD

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Friday, 13 December 2019

After working with women displaced by Boko Haram, a University of Otago graduate wants to walk alongside them as they work to improve their communities.

Otago researchers discover new viral strategy to escape detection

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Wednesday, 11 December 2019

University of Otago researchers have discovered how viruses that specifically kill bacteria can outwit bacteria by hiding from their defences, findings which are important for the development of new antimicrobials based on viruses and provide a significant advance in biological knowledge.

Sex, drugs, smokes and booze the focus for PhD thesis

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Monday, 9 December 2019

She didn’t quite manage to get ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ into the title of her PhD thesis, but researcher Jude Ball from the University of Otago, Wellington, came close, using the Ian Dury lyrics to introduce her first chapter.

Urology gets a boost at Otago

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Friday, 29 November 2019

Research in the specialist area of urology will take a leap forward thanks to a $1 million donation and the arrival of a new Associate Professor of Urology at the University of Otago.

Otago academic selected to chair key indigenous health committee

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Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama, Director of the Christchurch-based Māori/Indigenous Health Institute (MIHI), has been appointed as the first chair of the Australian Medical Council’s (AMC) Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Committee.

Real world focus for postgrad primary health care curriculum

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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The convenor of refreshed postgraduate qualifications in primary health care at the University of Otago, Wellington, has brought years of experience working as a field medic for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in such global hotspots as Afghanistan and Sierra Leone – as well as on-the-ground work in rural and urban New Zealand - to the task.

Spirituality and Mental Health Symposium

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Thursday, 21 November 2019

A symposium being held at the University of Otago, Wellington on Monday 25 November offers a chance to tackle some of life’s most fundamental questions, including the nature of reality and the meaning of life.

Seven inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair appointments to mark 150th

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Monday, 30 September 2019

In a new initiative, the University is celebrating its internationally acclaimed scholars by creating a prestigious new role - the Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair (Poutoko Taiea).

From polio to post-polio

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

When Anne Fitzpatrick, an assistant research fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington, got the chance to give a personal account of surviving polio to the readers of the New Zealand Medical Journal’s online Digest, she leapt at the opportunity to tell her story.

Otago academic to head new national cancer strategy

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Monday, 2 September 2019

The new interim National Director of Cancer Control, University of Otago academic Professor Diana Sarfati, believes lives will be saved as a result of the new National Cancer Action Plan.

World’s largest army is brutal, but could be beneficial

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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Is there a solution to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics? One answer may be found by studying the world’s largest and most brutal army, new University of Otago microbiology research shows.

Teenagers say ‘nope’ to dope

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Friday, 16 August 2019

New research from the University of Otago, Wellington, has shed light on the declining use of cannabis use by teens.

2019 OUSA Supervisor of the Year named

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Friday, 9 August 2019

It was only a “few” years ago Dr Susan Wardell was watching her supervisor be awarded the OUSA Supervisor of the Year. Now it has come full circle, with Dr Wardell being given the top nod at the awards.

Otago research shines light on cancer cells

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Friday, 9 August 2019

New University of Otago research into tell-tale markers of cancer cells could help doctors identify whether the cells are more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Otago researchers key to new Christchurch dementia clinic

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

A Dementia Prevention Research Clinic has officially opened in Christchurch, providing affected Cantabrians access to detailed neurological assessments and the opportunity to be part of a study aimed at identifying factors influencing the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Treatable cancers killing thousands in Pacific

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Tuesday, 6 August 2019

People living in the Pacific Islands are dying regularly from highly treatable cancers because of a lack of cancer care services around the region, researchers say.

Hotly contested 3MT finals

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Monday, 5 August 2019

Robotic spiders and endometrial cancer – two very different topics, but two very happy graduate students.

Dementia prevention research clinic opens in Christchurch

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Friday, 26 July 2019

The Dementia Prevention Research Clinic officially opened in Christchurch today (26 July) – the third in a national network of clinics established by Brain Research New Zealand| Rangahau Roro Aotearoa (BRNZ).

Old vaccine brings new surprises

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Friday, 19 July 2019

New research about an old vaccine – one that has been in use for nearly 100 years – has not only shown how effective it is but also suggests it improves our immune response to a wider range of bacteria than originally intended.

Otago study unlocks secrets of sex change in fish

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Thursday, 11 July 2019

A University of Otago-led study is heralding advances in our understanding of one of the most startling transformations in the natural world – the complete reversal of sex that occurs in about 500 species of fish.

NZ experts play crucial role in global fight against pneumonia

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Friday, 28 June 2019

New Zealanders played crucial roles in a global pneumonia study pinpointing the deadliest forms of viruses and bacteria, and identifying one vaccine that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of babies and young children.

Study of sexual orientation and mental health

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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Gay, lesbian and bisexual New Zealanders are on average more than twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts as heterosexuals, new research shows.

Māori-led research at Otago awarded more than $3m in HRC funding

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Māori researchers from the University of Otago have been granted more than $3 million in funding from the Health Research Council (HRC) to tackle a wide range of projects ranging from water safety to disability support access for Māori.

Central Otago cemetery might be next for archaeological research

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

With successful operations in the small Otago towns of Milton and Lawrence complete, the University of Otago’s Otago Historic Cemeteries Bioarchaeology Project is now looking to partner with the historic Drybread Cemetery, deep in the heart of Central Otago.

Hard hitters share weight management knowledge

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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

A postgraduate distance education paper in Obesity Prevention and Management run by the University of Otago, Wellington has enlisted help from some hard hitters in a quest to improve the management of patients in the community.

Butting Out: Researchers gauge public opinion on tobacco product waste

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Friday, 14 June 2019

Requiring cigarettes to contain biodegradable filters, fining smokers who litter cigarette butts and expanding smoke free outdoor areas are measures the public considers are most likely to reduce tobacco product waste, new University of Otago research reveals.

Health Research Excellence Awards announced

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Thursday, 30 May 2019

Neurosurgeon Professor Dirk De Ridder has been awarded the prestigious Dean's Medal at the annual Health Research Excellence Awards, for his work on neuromodulation to treat brain conditions ranging from addiction to Parkinson's Disease.

Opinion: Why are taxpayers subsidising licensed firearms owners?

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

OPINION: Online comment from some local gun lobbyists after the Christchurch shooting bypassed sympathy and jumped straight to worries about government "taking our guns away". Despite such attitudes, firearm owners are happy for the rest of us to subsidise them through our taxes.

Otago’s emerging researchers secure more than $1.7 million in HRC funding

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

An occupational therapist who aims to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities is one of several University of Otago early-stage researchers who have together been awarded more than $1.7 million in Health Research Council funding.

Making the homeless count

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Thursday, 9 May 2019

When Dr Kate Amore began researching homelessness for her PhD at the University of Otago, Wellington, the country was in denial that the issue was even a problem, she says.

Rising to the challenge - first Pacific graduate paves the way

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Monday, 15 April 2019

Working across cultures and around the globe, Papali’i Dr Viopapa Annandale-Atherton has quietly forged a distinguished career in public health and as an advocate for women’s rights, helping pave the way for generations of Pacific Island medical students.

Blending family therapy with creativity

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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Writing a children’s picture book for the families of premature babies has been a project close to the heart for author Julie Burgess-Manning, a lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington.

US Fellowship and Harvard invite for Otago researcher

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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

What happens to our healthcare records when we die?  It is a question few have pondered and Dr Jon Cornwall’s research on the topic has resulted in him being offered a Fellowship in the US and a speaking engagement at Harvard University to discuss the subject.

Housing WOFs need to be combined with education, study shows

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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Alongside funding and regulatory support, understanding how housing affects health and safety can spur owners to make improvements to their properties, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington and WISE Better Homes have found.

Study helps explain why some of our famous flightless birds can’t fly

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Friday, 5 April 2019

University of Otago researchers in association with colleagues from Harvard University have discovered new evidence of what made some of New Zealand’s iconic birds such as the kiwi and extinct moa, flightless.

Plaudits for tobacco control group ASPIRE 2025

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Friday, 5 April 2019

University of Otago research group ASPIRE 2025 has won praise from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand for its exemplary efforts and achievements in the field of smoking cessation and tobacco control.

Webster Family Chair in Pathogenesis appointment

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Following an extensive international search, Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu has been appointed as the second holder of the Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis in the University of Otago’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences.

Christchurch staff coming together after mosque attacks

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Thursday, 21 March 2019

The University of Otago, Christchurch’s main foyer has this week become a place to reflect, give and receive support, and share messages of condolence and support in a tribute book. It has also featured a table of baked goods made by medical students wanting to help nourish members of their campus community.

Otago discovery paves way for precision medicine in future

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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

University of Otago scientists have discovered a way to view the immune cell 'landscape' of bowel cancer tumours, paving the way towards more individualised medicine and treatment for many other diseases in future.

Otago researchers call for urgent law change

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Sunday, 17 March 2019

Firearms law changes promised by the Prime Minister are long overdue, according to experts in the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, Dr Marie Russell and Dr Hera Cook.

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.

New building for Christchurch campus

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Friday, 14 September 2018

The University of Otago has announced it will construct a new state-of-the-art building to expand its Christchurch health campus.

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.

Otago scientists awarded major funding for innovative research

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Thursday, 13 September 2018

University of Otago research leader Professor Richard Blaikie has received almost $1 million in Government funding to develop a cost-effective solution for large-scale production of hydrogen gas, a potential source of energy as an alternative to fossil fuel.

Transgender community honoured to help Otago teaching

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Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Members of Dunedin’s transgender community who have been working with Otago academics say they hope that because of their help, other transgender people will be met with a more capable and understanding healthcare system.

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.