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Brand new premises for world-famous Dunedin longitudinal study


Wednesday 25 January 2017 7:36am

Longitudinal study building image

A purpose-built home for the University’s world-renowned Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which has closely followed the progress of more than 1,000 people born in Dunedin in 1972 and 1973, will be officially opened today by Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith.

The new building, on the corner of Union Street and Anzac Avenue, is designed with the members of the Study first and foremost in mind. Every few years study members return from all corners of the globe to be assessed. Their day of intensive interviews and testing covers every aspect of their lives and well-being, from mental health to cardiac fitness and respiratory tests.

Because members’ identities are never revealed, the Study building has a private entrance, private parking, and a discreet street façade. The ground floor will be dedicated to research, and includes interview rooms and specialised testing areas. The first floor is for offices and meeting rooms for researchers and support staff.

University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says she is delighted that the Dunedin Study now has new premises that reflect the importance of the Study to the University, and its national and international significance.

“The Dunedin Study is a prominent jewel in Otago’s crown so deserves a setting that allows it to fully shine,” Professor Hayne says.

Professor Hayne noted that the Study has produced over 1,200 publications and reports with many of them influencing policy-makers, both nationally and internationally.

“Also, the recent four-part TV documentary series about the work of the Study, Why Am I? — The Science of Us, has achieved global reach in communicating the major findings of the Study to interested members of the public,” she says.

Last year, the Study was awarded almost $5 million over five years by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), for a life-course study on aging to inform early intervention strategies. This builds on more than 40 years of historic investment in the Study by the HRC, the University of Otago and major international funding agencies including the UK Medical Research Council and US National Institutes of Health.

In 2016 the HRC also recognised Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit (DMHDRU) Director Professor Richie Poulton (Psychology) in its ‘celebrating research excellence awards’, for an outstanding contribution to health research excellence, leadership, and impact.

The 580m² building, which is covered mostly in vertical cedar, with contrasting elements of cement sheet cladding, has been completed on time and to budget, in a tight timeframe.

The building was designed in-house by the Property Services’ Division Design Office, and construction was managed in-house by the University’s Capital Projects Unit, with Cook Brothers Construction as the main building contractor.

Originally the DMHDRU was based in Knox Church Halls, then it shifted temporarily to the former Barningham Building — behind the School of Dentistry — but ended up staying there for 30 years.

The Unit had to move in November 2015 because the building was being demolished to make way for the redevelopment of the University’s School of Dentistry. Since then, it had been based in Logan Park Annexe behind the University Oval, while waiting for the completion of its first permanent purpose-built facility.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie says building the new research facility reinforces the University’s long-term commitment to supporting the Study.

“Its work will continue through future assessment phases to provide vital insights into many areas of human health and behaviour, including how people age in the best possible health.”

For more information, contact:

Professor Richard Blaikie
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise)
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 8513

Mr Sean Hogan
Cohort & Assessment Manager
Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Research Unit
Department of Psychology
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 5551

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