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Richie PoultonWe in the Department of Psychology are saddened to acknowledge the recent passing of our valued colleague, Emeritus Distinguished Professor Richie Poulton (CNZM, FRSNZ). He will be greatly missed.

Richie was a passionate supporter of his colleagues and collaborators, as well as a dedicated leader, supervisor and teacher within our Clinical Psychology programme. Our thoughts are with his family.

Former Director, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Research Unit

After completing his Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology and Masters Degree in Science from the University of Otago, Richie worked as a clinical psychologist before embarking on a PhD. In 1995 he was awarded a PhD in Psychiatry from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. In the same year he took up the position of Deputy Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit until 1 January 2000, when he became Director.

In 2006, he was made Research Professor and awarded a Personal Chair by the University of Otago in the Dunedin School of Medicine. In 2015, he became Professor in the Department of Psychology. He serves on many NZ government, public and academic statutory bodies, and is a consultant internationally.

In 2004, he was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientists' Research Medal and the Health Research Council of New Zealand's (inaugural) Liley Medal for Excellence in Health Research. In 2005, he was awarded the University of Otago's  Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal for Outstanding Early Career Achievement, and also received the Dunedin School of Medicine Distinguished Research Award. In 2010, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was the joint recipient of the RSNZ Dame Joan Metge Medal for "excellence and building relationships in the social science research community". In 2014, he was awarded the Dunedin School of Medicine Dean's Medal for Research Excellence.

In 2007, he established and became a Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research, a research centre based at the University of Otago in Dunedin, but with partners located at universities across New Zealand and around the world.

In 2014, Richie was appointed as inaugural Chief Science Advisor to the NZ Ministry of Social Development (part-time) and in 2018 Chief Science Advisor, Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, both roles he performed until July 2021 in addition to his other duties.

2014 also saw Richie being named as a Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson-Reuters (one of only four New Zealanders so designated) and he was also listed in 2014 World's Most Influential Scientific Minds, Thomson-Reuters.

Research interests

Professor Poulton's major areas of interest and research were mental health, gene X environment prediction of complex disorders, and psychosocial determinants of chronic physical disease.  He has published 220+ peer-reviewed scientific papers, with many appearing in leading international journals, and he maintains numerous international research collaborations.

Find out more about Professor Poulton's research

Selected publications

Poulton, R., Moffitt, T. E., and Silva, P. A.  The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study: Overview of the first 40 years, with an eye to the future. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 2015, Published online first 3 April 2015, DOI 10.1007/s00127-015-1048-8.

Danese, A., Caspi, A., Pariante, C. M., Taylor, A., Moffitt, T. E., and Poulton, R.  Childhood maltreatment predicts adult inflammation: A life-course study. PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA), 2007, 104(4):1319-1324.

Caspi, A., McClay, J., Moffitt, T. E., Mill, J. S., Martin, J., Craig, I., Taylor, A., and Poulton, R.  Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children. Science, 2002, 297:851-854.

Poulton, R., Caspi, A., Milne, B. J., Thomson, W. M., Taylor, A., Sears, M. R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Association between children's experience of socioeconomic disadvantage and adult health: A life-course study. Lancet, 2002, 360(9346):1640-1645.

Poulton, R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Cannon, M., Murray, R. M., and Harrington, H. L.  Children's self-reported psychotic symptoms and adult schizophreniform disorder: A 15-year longitudinal study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2000, 57:1053-1058.

Recent since 2014

GBD 2013 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators (including Poulton, R.). Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and YLDs for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries for 188 countries, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet, In press.

RIBURST Study Collaboration Writing Group (including Poulton, R). A new strategy to reduce global burden of stroke (based on the WSC presentation). Stroke, In press.

Moffitt T.E., Houts, R., Asherson, P., Harrington, H.L., Hogan, S., Meier, M., Polanczyk, G.V., Poulton, R., Ramrakha, S., Rohde, L.A., Caspi, A. Lacking evidence that adult ADHD is a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental disorder: A 4-decade longitudinal cohort study. American Journal of Psychiatry, In Press.

Schaefer, J., Caspi, A., Belsky, D., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Israel, S., Levine, M., Sugden, K., Williams, B., Poulton,   R., Moffitt, T. Early-life intelligence predicts midlife biological age. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, In Press.

Ramrakha, S., Fergusson, D.M., Horwood, L.J., Dalgard, F., Ambler, A., Kokaua J., Milne, B.J., and Poulton, R. Cumulative mental health consequences of acne: 23-year follow up in a general population birth cohort study. British Journal of Dermatology, In press.

Theodore, R., Tustin, K., Kiro, C., Gollop, M., Taumoepeau, M., Taylor N., Chee, K., Hunter J., and Poulton, R. Māori university graduates: indigenous participation in higher education.  Higher Education Research & Development, In Press.

Parmar P., Krishnamurthi, R., Ikram, A., Hofman, A., Mirza, S., Varakin, Y., Kravchenko, M., Piradov. M., Thrift, A., Norrving, B., Wang, W., Mandel, D.K., Barker-Collo, S., Sahathevan, R., Davis, S., Saposnik, G., Kivipelto, M., Sindi, S., Bornstein, N.M., Giroud, M., Bejot, Y., Hankey, G., Brainin, M., Poulton R., Venkat Narayan, K.M., Freire A., Kokubo, Y., Weibers, D., Mensah, G., Azhagammal, S. Dhim, N.B., Barber, P.A., Pandian, J.D., Abbott, M., Rush, E., Hume, P., Hussein, T., Bhattacharjee, R., Purohit., M., and Feigin V.L. The Stroke RiskometerTM App: Validation of a data collection tool and stroke risk predictor. International Journal of Stroke, In press.

Goldman-Mellor, S., Caspi, A., Gregory, A, M., Harrington, H. L., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Is insomnia associated with deficits in neuropsychological functioning? Evidence from a population-based study. Sleep, In press.

Belsky, D. W.,  Caspi, A., Israel, S., Blumenthal, J. A., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive function at midlife: Neuroprotection or Neuroselection? Annals of Neurology, 2015, 77(4): 607-617.

Hancox, R. J.,  Shin, H. H., Gray, A. R., Poulton, R., and Sears, M. R.  Effects of quitting cannabis on respiratory symptoms. European Respiratory Journal, 2015, Published ahead of print 2 April 2015, doi: 10.1183/09031936.00228914.

Poulton, R., Moffitt, T. E., and Silva, P. A.  The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study: Overview of the first 40 years, with an eye to the future . Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 2015,  Published online first 3 April 2015, DOI 10.1007/s00127-015-1048-8.

Fergusson, D. M., McLeod, G. F. H., Horwood, L. J., Swain, N., Chapple, S., and Poulton, R. Life satisfaction and mental health problems (18 to 35 years). Psychological Medicine. 2015; First view article published 25 March 2015, doi:10.1017/S0033291715000422 (2015).

Parsons, M. J., Moffitt, T. E., Gregory, A. M., Goldman-Mellor, S., Nolan, P. M., Poulton, R., and Caspi, A.  Social Jetlag, Obesity and Metabolic Disorder: Investigation in a Cohort Study. International Journal of Obesity, 2015,  Advance online publication 20 January 2015; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2014.201.

Broadbent, J. M., Thomson, W. M., Ramrakha, S., Moffitt, T. E. , Zeng, J., Foster-Page, L. A., and Poulton, R.  Community water fluoridation and intelligence: Prospective Study in New Zealand. American Journal of Public Health, 2015, 105(1): 72-76.

GBD Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators (including Poulton, R). Global, regional, and national levels of age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet, 2015, 385:L117-171.

Poulton, R.; Van Ryzin, M. J.; Harold, G. T.; Chamberlain, P.; Fowler, D.; Cannon, M.; Arseneault, L., and Leve, L. D. Effects of Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care on Psychotic Symptoms in Girls. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2014; 53(12):1279-1287.

Goldman-Mellor, S., Gregory, A. M., Caspi, A., Harrington, H. L., Parsons, M. J., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Mental health antecedents of early midlife insomnia: Evidence from a four-decade longitudinal study. Sleep, 2014, 37(11): 1767-1775.

Israel, S., Caspi, A., Belsky, D. W., Harrington, H. L., Hogan, S., Houts, R., Ramrakha, S., Sanders, S.,  Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Credit Scores, Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Human Capital. PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA), 2014, 111(48): 17087-17092.

Shalev, I., Caspi, A., Ambler, A., Belsky, D. W., Chapple, S., Cohen, H., Israel, S., Poulton, R.,  Ramrakha, S., Rivera, C., Sugden, K., Williams, B. S., Wolke, D., and Moffitt, T. E.  Perinatal Complications and Aging Indicators by Midlife. Pediatrics, 2014, 134: e1315-e1323.

Belsky, D. W.,  Shalev, I., Sears, M. R., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H. L., Houts, R., Moffitt, T. E., Sugden, K., Williams, B. S., Poulton, R., and Caspi, A.  Is Chronic Asthma Associated with Shorter Leukocyte Telomere Length at Midlife? American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2014, 190(4): 384-391.

Breslau, N., Koenen, K., Swanson, S., Agnew-Blais, M. A., Houts, R., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Childhood maltreatment, juvenile disorders and adult post-traumatic stress disorder: A prospective investigation. Psychological Medicine, 2014, 44(09): 1937–1945.

Israel, S., Moffitt, T. E., Belsky, D. W., Hancox, R. J., Poulton, R., Roberts, B. W., Thomson, W. M., and Caspi, A.  Translating Personality Psychology to Help Personalize Preventive Medicine for Young-Adult Patients. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2014, 106(3): 484-498.

Shalev, I., Moffitt, T. E., Braithwaite, A. W., Danese, A., Fleming, N. I.,  Goldman-Mellor, S., Harrington, H. L., Houts, R., Israel, S., Poulton, R., Robertson, S. P., Sugden, K., Williams, B. S., and  Caspi, A.  Internalizing disorders and leukocyte telomere erosion: a prospective study of depression, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Molecular Psychiatry, 2014, 19(11): 1163-1170.

Goldman-Mellor, S., Caspi, A., Harrington, H. L., Hogan, S., Nada-Raja, S., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Suicide attempt in young people: A signal for long-term healthcare and social needs. JAMA Psychiatry, 2014, 71(2): 119-127.

Meier, M. H., Caspi, A., Reichenberg, A., Keefe, R., Fisher, H. L., Harrington, H. L., Houts, R., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  Neuropsychological Decline in Schizophrenia from the Premorbid to Post-Onset Period: Evidence from a Population-Representative Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2014, 171(1): 91-101.

Caspi, A., Houts, R., Belsky, D. W., Goldman-Mellor, S., Harrington, H. L., Israel, S., Meier, M. H., Ramrakha, S., Shalev, I., Poulton, R., and Moffitt, T. E.  The p Factor: One general psychopathology factor in the structure of psychiatric disorders? Clinical Psychological Science, 2014, 2(2): 119-137.


Reuben, A., Richmond-Rakerd, L. S., Milne, B., Shah, D., Pearson, A., Hogan, S., Ireland, D., Keenan, R., Knodt, A. R., Melzer, T., Poulton, R., … Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2024). Dementia, dementia's risk factors and premorbid brain structure are concentrated in disadvantaged areas: National register and birth-cohort geographic analyses. Alzheimer's & Dementia. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/alz.13727 Journal - Research Article

Whitman, E. T., Ryan, C. P., Abraham, W. C., Addae, A., Corcoran, D. L., Elliott, M. L., Hogan, S., Ireland, D., … Poulton, R., Ramrakha, S., … on behalf of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. (2024). A blood biomarker of the pace of aging is associated with brain structure: replication across three cohorts. Neurobiology of Aging, 136, 23-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2024.01.008 Journal - Research Article

Brennan, G. M., Moffitt, T. E., Bourassa, K. J., Harrington, H., Hogan, S., Houts, R. M., Poulton, R., Ramrakha, S., & Caspi, A. (2024). The continuity of adversity: Negative emotionality links early life adversity with adult stressful life events. Clinical Psychological Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/21677026231220337 Journal - Research Article

Arnett, A. B., Guiney, H., Bakir-Demir, T., Trudgen, A., Schierding, W., Reid, V., … Reese, E., & Poulton, R. (2024). Resting EEG correlates of neurodevelopment in a socioeconomically and linguistically diverse sample of toddlers: Wave 1 of the Kia Tīmata Pai best start New Zealand study. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 65, 101336. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2023.101336 Journal - Research Article

August, R., Barrett-Young, A., Guiney, H., Hogan, S., Ramrakha, S., & Poulton, R. (2023). Who Australasians trusted during COVID-19: Lessons from the pandemic response. New Zealand Medical Journal/Te ara tika o te hauora hapori, 136(1587), 85-97. Retrieved from Journal - Research Article

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