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Rare award given to outstanding research group

Thursday, 9 March 2017 8:56pm

Members of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit (DMHDRU), which has won a rare University of Otago award - the Research Group Award.

Huge contributions to science and society by the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit (DMHDRU) have won it the University of Otago’s Research Group Award.

This morning’s presentation at the Unit’s new purpose-built facility was just the second time the award has been made.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie told about 40 people the influence of the “Dunedin Study” was thoroughly worthy of “this rare award” tucked away in the University’s “trophy cabinet”.

"I’m also personally interested in this next part of the study and how it unlocks the secrets of ageing, and being able to tell my children and theirs how to be happier in their lives."

The efforts of all the researchers, support staff and participants involved reflected the late Professor Alan Macdiarmid’s view that “science is people”.

Professor Blaikie said that, like many others, he kept a close eye on the work and findings of the Dunedin Study.

“I’m personally interested in this, as a child of the era of this study and having been brought up in Dunedin. I’m also personally interested in this next part of the study and how it unlocks the secrets of ageing, and being able to tell my children and theirs how to be happier in their lives.”

The selection panel determined the Dunedin Study was the winner for several reasons, including its:

  • Outstanding record of publication, with co-leaders Professor Richie Poulton and Professor Terrie Moffitt alone having 200 refereed journals each;
  • Societal impact in New Zealand, including the development of the Health and Development Record for all children under five;
  • Societal impact overseas, including evidence to the United States’ Supreme Court which spared 72 inmates on death row for crimes committed before they were 18.

Professor Poulton, the Director of the DMHDRU, said the study had been fortunate to have such strong support from the University and from all those involved in the past 45 years.

Having such a large supportive and talented team “allows me to sleep at night”.

Professor Poulton was deeply appreciative of everyone involved and said the great teamwork was built on the notion of “being part of something bigger than yourself”.

The first Research Group Award in 2012 was given to the Centre for Chemical and Physical Oceanography.

The group award was presented to:

Leaders and Support Staff - Mr Antony Ambler, Dr Jane Carroll, Associate Professor Bob Hancox, Ms Vanessa Hayes, Mr Sean Hogan, Dr David Ireland, Mrs Jennifer Knox, Mrs Jenny McArthur, Ms Michelle McCann, Professor Terrie Moffitt, Professor Richie Poulton, Dr Sandhya Ramrakha, Mrs Hanna Stegen, Ms Ros Sydney, Ms Jacinta Taylor, Dr Moana Theodore and Dr Karen Tustin.

Investigators – Professor Avshalom Caspi, Associate Professor Joanne Baxter, Professor Richard Bedford, Professor Antony Braithwaite, Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent, Professor Jennie Connor, Associate Professor Nigel Dickson, Associate Professor Lyndie Foster Page, Mr Tim Morgan, Dr Rose Richards Hessell, Dr Antoinette Righarts, Professor Stephen Robertson, Associate Professor Chris Sissons, Professor W Murray Thomson, Professor Michael Williams, Professor Tien Yin Wong, Dr Emma Wyeth and Dr Jimmy Zeng.

Next Generation Staff – Mrs Aroha Bolton, Ms Natalie Davis, Dr Helena McAnally, Dr Judith Sligo and Ms Jacki Telfer.

Psychology Technicians – Mr Jeremy Anderson, Mr Jason Campbell, Mr Meric Hoffman, Mr Paul O’Donnell, Mr Russell Phillips and Mr Lindsay Robertson.

New Staff – Ms Elena Bayly-McCredie, Ms Elizabeth Berry, Dr Kirsten Cheyne, Mrs Denise Ching, Mr Jason Connolly, Mrs Elizabeth Glen, Ms Nicola Lloyd, Mrs Lynda Morrison, Ms Danielle O’Brien, Ms Fiona Parker, Dr Melissa Purnell, Dr Katherine Sneddon, Ms Barbara Steptoe and Ms Charmaine Strickland.