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He Kete Kōrero – Autumn 2019

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 9:56am

The Autumn 2019 edition of the University of Otago, Wellington newsletter

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Otago global health researchers to tackle tuberculosis in Indonesia

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 2:33pm

Researchers from the Otago Global Health Institute have secured funding from the e-Asia Joint Research Programme and the Health Research Council of New Zealand to help improve the management of tuberculosis (TB) in Indonesia.

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Wood is good, research on 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake shows

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 9:52am

New research has found that only three per cent of deaths in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake occurred in people’s homes, almost all of which were at that time constructed from wood.

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Discovery of oral cancer biomarkers could save thousands of lives

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 10:33am

Oral cancer is known for its high mortality rate in developing countries, but an international team of scientists hope its latest discovery will change that.

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Rising to the challenge - first Pacific graduate paves the way

Monday, 15 April 2019 9:50pm

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.

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Blending family therapy with creativity

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:31pm

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.

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US Fellowship and Harvard invite for Otago researcher

Tuesday, 9 April 2019 9:59pm

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.

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Housing WOFs need to be combined with education, study shows

Tuesday, 9 April 2019 11:01am

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.

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

Friday, 5 April 2019 10:02am

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.

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Plaudits for tobacco control group ASPIRE 2025

Friday, 5 April 2019 10:48pm

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.

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Opening of new Christchurch physiotherapy clinic

Wednesday, 3 April 2019 9:09pm

A new School of Physiotherapy clinic in Christchurch is officially open after a ceremony attended by Alumni and former Silver Ferns physiotherapist, Sharon Kearney.

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Otago researchers encourage New Zealanders to support Arms Amendment Bill

Wednesday, 3 April 2019 4:28pm

University of Otago firearms researchers are encouraging New Zealanders who are not gun owners to support MPs and political parties with the Arms Amendment Bill.

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Christchurch campus comes together to ‘share in each other’s warmth’

Tuesday, 26 March 2019 12:38pm

A week after the mosque shootings, Christchurch medical student Mohamud Osman stood in front of staff and fellow students and shared a story of love, kindness and forgiveness.

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Otago research shows alcohol consultation failing Māori communities

Tuesday, 26 March 2019 12:28pm

Local governments are failing to consult meaningfully with Māori when it comes to liquor licensing legislation, new research from the University of Otago has found.

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New pharmacy clinic aims to optimise pharmacotherapy and improve patients’ health

Friday, 22 March 2019 10:52am

A new outpatient clinic in Dunedin to help patients manage multiple medications and improve their health – a joint venture between the University of Otago’s School of Pharmacy and Southern District Health Board – is believed to be the first of its kind in Australasia.

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Webster Family Chair in Pathogenesis appointment

Friday, 22 March 2019 9:50am

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.

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Christchurch staff coming together after mosque attacks

Thursday, 21 March 2019 1:22pm

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.

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Otago discovery paves way for precision medicine in future

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 9:45am

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.

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Otago researchers call for urgent law change

Sunday, 17 March 2019 12:25pm

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.

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Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Friday, 15 March 2019 2:15pm

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.

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Otago bioethicist adds voice to global plea for moratorium on heritable genome editing

Thursday, 14 March 2019 9:24am

A University of Otago bioethicist has added his voice to a global plea for a moratorium on heritable genome editing from a group of international scientists and ethicists in the wake of the recent Chinese experiment aiming to produce HIV immune children.

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Measles information and advice from the Canterbury DHB

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 1:08pm

Measles is circulating widely in Canterbury. Information and advice is available for University of Otago, Christchurch staff and students.

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Number of poisoning-related deaths in New Zealand remain high

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 11:05am

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.

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Liberal access to e-cigarettes likely to bring health benefits, NZ study finds

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 11:16am

New Zealand’s approach of allowing wide access to e-cigarettes is likely to be bringing overall health gains and cost savings for the health system, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington have found.

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‘Invisible wounds’ may have cut WWII veterans’ lives short

Friday, 8 March 2019 9:08am

Kiwi men who were veterans of World War II appear to have had a shorter lifespan than other New Zealand men who were born at the same time, new research shows.

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Christchurch researcher representing New Zealand in taekwondo

Tuesday, 5 March 2019 4:57pm

Christchurch breast cancer researcher Dr Vanessa Lattimore will represent New Zealand at the taekwondo World Championships in Manchester this May.

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Sniffing out prostate cancer in New Zealand

Monday, 4 March 2019 9:47am

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.

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New WHO housing and health guidelines could save millions each year

Monday, 25 February 2019 3:00pm

Preventable injuries and hospitalisations due solely to poor housing conditions in New Zealand could be costing more than $145 million annually in ACC claims and hospitalisation costs, according to new research.

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Train station signs send weak smokefree signal

Friday, 22 February 2019 9:58am

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.

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Are we closing the health gap?

Thursday, 21 February 2019 11:34am

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.

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Improved food health standards linked to fewer cases of childhood gastroenteritis

Thursday, 21 February 2019 2:56pm

A University of Otago study reveals the incidence of non-viral gastroenteritis in New Zealand children has declined over the past 20 years with researchers concluding improved food health standards the key contributor.

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

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 11:24am

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. 

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Surprise te reo Māori finding in pre-diabetes research

Monday, 18 February 2019 2:27pm

New research from the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge has found people who speak te reo Māori have a reduced risk of progressing from pre-diabetes to diabetes.

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

Tuesday, 12 February 2019 1:26pm

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.

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New Zealand leads global effort to control rheumatic fever

Monday, 11 February 2019 4:20pm

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.

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

Thursday, 7 February 2019 9:21pm

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.

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Otago academics question whether it is timely to salary GPs and abolish patient fees

Friday, 1 February 2019 9:39am

University of Otago academic health and business leaders consider it timely for a debate about funding primary healthcare services including the possibility of the Government salarying all GPs and abolishing patient fees.

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Cancer Society calls for an end to DHB-led cancer care

Thursday, 31 January 2019 9:15am

New Zealand is at a major crossroads in cancer care and the Cancer Society are calling on government to back a nationally-led, coordinated approach to cancer.

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Otago academic offers new explanation for Alexander the Great’s death

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 9:09am

It may have happened more than 2300 years ago, but the mystery of Alexander the Great’s death could finally be solved, thanks to a University of Otago academic.

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

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 1:09pm

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.

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Potential biotech and health applications with new knowledge on bacteria and viruses

Monday, 21 January 2019 2:29pm

University of Otago research to better understand how bacteria and their viruses interact and evolve will enable future studies to exploit the use of bacteria and their viruses for potential biotechnology and health applications.

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Kiwi teens have little knowledge of most effective contraceptives, Otago research reveals

Friday, 18 January 2019 10:11am

New Zealand adolescents have little knowledge of the most effective form of contraceptives, like implants and IUDs, and support the concept of an education programme about these long-acting reversible contraceptives to help prevent unintended teen pregnancies, University of Otago research has found.

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Proposal for ‘cautious path’ forward for changing cannabis laws by Otago researcher

Friday, 18 January 2019 9:57am

Amid the ongoing debate on legislation for recreational use of cannabis, an Otago researcher proposes a cautious path forward for changing cannabis laws in New Zealand that aims to reduce cannabis-related harm.

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University of Otago to study the impacts of mycoplasma bovis on farmers and their communities

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 10:45am

The University of Otago will carry out a study on the emotional, social and psychological impacts of mycoplasma bovis on Southern farmers and farming communities.

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High intake of dietary fibre and whole grain foods reduces risk of non-communicable diseases

Friday, 11 January 2019 12:39pm

University of Otago researchers have found a link between higher intakes of dietary fibre and whole grain foods and a reduction in the risk of a wide range of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors.

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One plus one equals more than two for health expenditure in patients with multiple conditions, study finds

Wednesday, 9 January 2019 1:27pm

Caring for patients with two or more chronic diseases costs the health system more than it would to treat each disease in isolation, a new study has shown.

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Otago study highlights problems predicting suicide

Friday, 21 December 2018 12:03pm

A University of Otago study examining the ability of measures to predict death-by-suicide highlights multiple problems with current mental health treatment models.

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Christchurch Professor given medical profession’s highest accolade

Tuesday, 18 December 2018 10:46am

Bowel cancer surgeon and University of Otago, Christchurch researcher Professor Frank Frizelle has been awarded the New Zealand medical profession’s highest accolade.

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He Kete Kōrero – Summer 2018

Tuesday, 18 December 2018 2:00pm

The Summer 2018 edition of the University of Otago, Wellington newsletter

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Probiotic gives long-standing protection against childhood eczema, study finds

Monday, 17 December 2018 1:05pm

Giving a probiotic supplement to pregnant mothers and their infants significantly reduces the chances of a child developing eczema for the first 11 years of their life, researchers have shown.

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Call for pandemic research fund as “living memorial” to 1918 flu victims

Friday, 14 December 2018 9:11am

Professors from the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington are calling on the government to set up a research fund to help prevent pandemics and increase New Zealand’s preparedness to deal with such disasters.

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Two winning teams from TRG competition

Thursday, 13 December 2018 10:14pm

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

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Otago graduate influential in Africa

Thursday, 13 December 2018 9:05am

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.

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First nationwide study of listeria in mothers and babies

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 11:56am

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.

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

Monday, 10 December 2018 1:17pm

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.

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Study examines impact of alcohol policy change on hazardous drinking habits at Otago

Friday, 7 December 2018 11:41am

A study spanning ten years has found alcohol policy reform implemented by the University of Otago probably contributed to a change in the drinking culture of the student population.

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Otago study forces a rethink on population history of Ibiza

Thursday, 6 December 2018 11:17am

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.

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Otago researchers discover information about a gene that helps define us as humans

Thursday, 6 December 2018 9:11am

University of Otago researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates – great apes and humans – apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder.

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Māori health professional graduand numbers soar to new heights

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 9:08am

The number of University of Otago Māori health professional graduands has climbed to an historic high.

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Patients prescribed medications for longer than recommended - at a cost

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 11:05am

Almost half of patients are being prescribed common medications for longer than recommended, putting them at unnecessary risk of harmful side effects, new research shows.

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Otago researchers discover a promising therapy for improving heart attack survivorship

Tuesday, 4 December 2018 9:14am

In pre-clinical trials, University of Otago researchers have discovered a promising new therapy that has the potential to be used clinically for improving survival rates for people who suffer a heart attack.

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Cycle lanes and walkways cut car use, reduce emissions, study finds

Monday, 3 December 2018 3:32pm

Researchers have shown for the first time that investing in cycle lanes and walkways encourages people to drive less and cuts carbon emissions.

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Pain common and increasing in prevalence in New Zealand

Friday, 30 November 2018 9:19am


Pain is an extremely common condition and increasing in prevalence in New Zealand, University of Otago researchers say.

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Too many dementia patients prescribed potentially inappropriate drugs – Otago finds

Thursday, 29 November 2018 9:45am

Older adults diagnosed with dementia are frequently being prescribed potentially inappropriate medications, which leaves them at risk of delirium, worsening cognitive impairment, and increased mortality, a University of Otago study has found.

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Research by Otago graduate highlights magnitude of gender disparity in cardiology

Wednesday, 28 November 2018 9:15am

While increasing numbers of medical graduates are female, new research led by an Otago Medical School graduate highlights the magnitude of gender disparity in cardiology.

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Otago invention helps patients manage Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Friday, 23 November 2018 9:20am


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.

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True burden of rheumatic fever in NZ currently underestimated, new research reveals

Thursday, 22 November 2018 5:05pm

The true burden of rheumatic fever in New Zealand may be underestimated because serology cut-off guidelines are too high resulting in undercounting about 16 cases annually, new collaborative research has found.

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Otago health researchers share more than $3.5m in Career Development Awards

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 9:19am

A University of Otago Christchurch engineer is developing  a ‘lego’ system to 3D-bioprint bone; a solution that could one day replace the billions-of-dollars-worth of ceramic and titanium implants required by New Zealand patients annually.

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The challenge of reducing health inequities and improving health outcomes in New Zealand

Monday, 19 November 2018 2:21pm

The Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge, hosted by the University of Otago,  welcomes the announcement from the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Megan Woods,  confirming funding for its 2019-2024 research strategy

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Otago graduate helps separate conjoined twins

Friday, 16 November 2018 8:54pm

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.

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Otago scientists’ contributions recognised nationally

Friday, 16 November 2018 9:18am

Three University of Otago scientists have been recognised for their significant contributions to New Zealand’s science community with awards from the New Zealand Association of Scientists.

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Proposal for National School of Rural Health remains firmly on the table

Friday, 16 November 2018 9:21am

The University of Otago remains committed to the collaborative proposal for a National Interprofessional School of Rural Health.

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Otago research highlights need for spirituality to be integrated into the health system

Wednesday, 14 November 2018 4:11pm

Spiritual care must be integrated into health system care plans, policies and training in order to reflect national guidelines and strategies more effectively, according to University of Otago researchers.

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UK Fleming Prize to Otago microbiologist

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 4:43pm

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

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Christchurch PhD student named in Black Sticks

Tuesday, 13 November 2018 9:08pm

University of Otago, Christchurch postgraduate student Leah Butt has been selected for New Zealand’s national hockey team, the Black Sticks. 

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

Friday, 9 November 2018 4:14pm

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.

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Driving anxiety experienced by many older adults, new research reveals

Monday, 5 November 2018 9:15am

Driving anxiety is experienced by many older adults in New Zealand, especially among women and those aged over 70, recent collaborative research shows.

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Sobering insights into alcohol marketing and Māori children

Thursday, 1 November 2018 9:07am

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.

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Most Kiwis support some form of euthanasia or assisted dying, Otago review reveals

Thursday, 1 November 2018 9:21am

Most New Zealanders support some form of euthanasia or assisted dying, a review of 20 years’ research into Kiwis’ attitudes to euthanasia by University of Otago researchers reveals.

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Professor Tony Blakely wins 2018 Chaffer Medal

Thursday, 1 November 2018 12:32pm

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.

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Otago’s NEXT magazine Woman of the Year

Wednesday, 31 October 2018 2:33pm

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.

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Cutting societal alcohol use may prevent alcohol disorders developing – Otago research reveals

Wednesday, 31 October 2018 11:14am

Society must take collective responsibility to reduce the harm caused by alcohol use disorders, a University of Otago academic says.

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WWI cast a long shadow over New Zealanders’ health, study finds

Tuesday, 30 October 2018 10:42am

World War I cast such a long shadow over New Zealand that the health and social impacts continued through to the next generation, public health researchers say.

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Increasing alcohol tax could benefit health and save money for society – NZ study

Monday, 29 October 2018 12:52pm

Increasing the excise tax on alcohol would likely result in fewer people dying or being injured in vehicle crashes – and generate savings for society, according to a just-published New Zealand study.

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Study investigates link between loneliness and age in elderly New Zealanders

Monday, 29 October 2018 11:35am

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.

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Kiwis failing to slip into shade and slap on a hat for sun protection, researchers find

Friday, 26 October 2018 10:44am

An alarming proportion of New Zealanders are neither wearing hats nor seeking shade to protect themselves from the sun, University of Otago research reveals.

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Portrait of Peter Crampton unveiled

Thursday, 25 October 2018 12:52pm

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.

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Otago scientist receives prestigious Fellowship to further gout research

Thursday, 25 October 2018 9:11am

One of the country’s leading scientists in the area of gout and metabolic disease, University of Otago Professor Tony Merriman, is one of three researchers nationally to receive a prestigious James Cook Fellowship.