Wednesday 19 August 2009 12:11pm
A prominent researcher from the United States, whose particular interest is reducing injuries from road crashes, has been appointed as the new Director of the University of Otago's Injury Prevention Research Unit.
Dr Hank Weiss comes to Otago from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, where he was Director of the University's Centre for Injury Research and Control from 2002 to 2008.
With more than 26 years of experience in injury prevention, his research has focused on domestic violence, poisonings, farm injuries, elderly falls, transport and recreational injuries – to name a few. He has just been awarded the 2009 Alex Kelter Visionary Award from the State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association (STIPDA).
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences) Professor Don Roberton says Dr Weiss's background makes him ideal for this role within Otago's Faculty of Medicine.
"He brings talent, skills and knowledge that will be hugely beneficial to the Injury Prevention Research Unit, and to the University as a whole. It is also a reflection of the Unit's international reputation for research excellence, built so strongly during the leadership of Professor John Langley, that we have managed to draw a person of the calibre of Dr Weiss," Professor Roberton says.
Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says he is delighted Dr Weiss has accepted the role.
"The work of the IPRU helps prevent injury and loss of life, and plays a vital research role within the University. I am confident that Dr Weiss will be able to build on the outstanding international reputation of this research group," he says.
Dr Weiss, who will take over leadership of the unit from Professor John Langley at the end of this month, says the research possibilities at the University of Otago were a major factor in his decision to move to Dunedin.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to join a world class Injury Prevention Research Unit with an incredibly productive faculty and staff, which has been left in a strong position thanks to the efforts of Professor Langley," he says.
"I am also impressed by the potential at Otago to collaborate across Departments and Schools in the University, and with Government health, accident and transportation bodies."
Dr Weiss is keen to continue his work on road crash injury-prevention in New Zealand. He has been investigating the impact of injuries to pregnant women during crashes, and their prevention, and he hopes to continue the work here, as well as reduce the overall burden from crash injuries.
"I also want to use my experience in measuring and preventing traumatic brain injury, one of the most devastating of all injuries in the New Zealand setting," he says.
Dr Weiss and his family will move to Dunedin from Pittsburgh in coming weeks, taking up his new position at the end of this month.
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