Healthy lifestyles research at the University of Otago encompasses a huge range of research fields and applications from community activities to influencing health policy.
Visit the listings of our research groups below, or check out our featured projects.
Featured research projects
The Ageing Well National Science Challenge vision is to add life to years for all older New Zealanders. This will be achieved by harnessing science to sustain health and wellbeing into the later years of life. The mission of Ageing Well is to push back disability thresholds to enable all New Zealanders to reach their full potential through the life course with particular reference to the latter years of life.
ASPIRE2025 is a partnership between major New Zealand research groups carrying out research to help achieve the Government's goal of a tobacco-free Aotearoa by 2025. ASPIRE2025 brings together leading tobacco-free researchers and health service groups in New Zealand and strengthens existing collaborations. ASPIRE2025 was awarded the status of a University of Otago Research Theme in November 2011.
We aim to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer in New Zealand, and to reduce cancer-related inequalities.
We work in close coordination with the Cancer Society of New Zealand to prioritise the research we conduct, disseminate our findings, and advocate for world-leading cancer prevention, care and support.
Our partners include Massey University, Michigan State University, The University of Melbourne, and Victoria University of Wellington.
The CNE comprises ten research groups focused upon understanding how the brain controls hormone levels and how hormones control brain function.
We have three themes of research that focus upon understanding neural regulation.
- Body weight and metabolism
The Centre for Pacific Health is home to a dedicated team of Pacific and non-Pacific researchers working in areas of importance to Pacific communities in New Zealand and internationally.
Pacific health is a holistic concept that encompasses broader ideas on well-being to encompass physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. With more than 20 different cultures captured under the umbrella of ‘Pacific’, there are unique approaches to health that mean health care, health systems and health services can be enriched with further understanding of Pacific-specific approaches to health.
Child Health Research at Otago gathers together the research expertise and activities of scientists investigating health issues primarily affecting our youngest New Zealanders.
We also partner with a wide range of stakeholders, communities, institutions, and nations beyond New Zealand to collaborate on health issues of global significance.
Explore our child health research:
- Alphabetical listing of our child health research groups
- Genetics and health
- Healthy pregnancies
- Healthy childhoods
- Childhood conditions and treatments
- Inequalities in child health
CARE conducts research in gerontology—the study of ageing in all its aspects. Gerontology is becoming increasingly important in developed countries, including New Zealand, because of our ageing populations.
Our network's areas of research strength:
- Physical health
- Brain health
- Social and policy development
Public Health is the study and practice of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting the health of the population through the organised efforts of society. Internationally, this is a growing and exciting field.
Front line practitioners include health promoters and educators, public health doctors, nurses, and staff working in occupational health and environmental protection. Others are involved in research, co-ordination and management of services, and the formation and evaluation of health policy.
We work to understand why some people are healthy and some are not, how to prevent illness and injury, how people's health can be improved through working with communities, how political systems and health organisations affect health, and other issues relating to the health of populations.
The research groups within the Department of Public Health at our Wellington campus carry out a range of research on critical public health issues. These include cancer and screening, healthy eating, health services research and prioritisation, housing, sustainability and the environment, inequalities, infectious diseases, Māori health and tobacco.
Our mission is Reducing the global burden of diabetes and obesity. We aim to reduce the prevalence, and to improve the management, of diabetes and obesity by finding new ways to prevent and treat these conditions. By striving for research excellence and encouraging international collaboration we can bring the greatest benefit to New Zealanders and the wider world. We’re sharing our discoveries with individuals, communities, teachers, health professionals and policymakers.
This research aims to collect data on the current levels of established heart disease, levels of previously undiagnosed diabetes, cardiovascular disease and their risk factors in randomly-selected population samples from two diverse Maori communities, Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairoa in Hawkes Bay, and Mana Whenua ki Waitaha in Canterbury, as well as a non-Maori control group in Canterbury.
The Healthier Lives National Science Challenge is a national research collaboration dedicated to achieving healthier lives for all New Zealanders.
We are working on the prevention and treatment of four of New Zealand’s main non-communicable diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease
Our mission is to deliver the right prevention to the right population and the right treatment to the right patient. We plan to do this in partnership with stakeholders and communities by generating world class research, and translating our research findings into innovative health policy, practice, and technology, designed for New Zealand’s unique communities.
The Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit aims to foster excellence in research in health promotion and public health policy. HePPRU works in collaboration with policy-makers and policy advocates to advance the good health of the peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand through independent, critical and innovative research, teaching, and community service.
Mental health is a broad and complex issue facing New Zealanders – and a research strength of the University of Otago. This website brings together our investigators and teams contributing to New Zealand's research achievement in the field of mental health.
Explore our mental health research:
- Alphabetical listing of our mental health research groups
- Māori and Pacific mental health
- Mental disorders
- Mental health risk factors
- Population mental health and health services
Talofa lava, kia orana, malo e lelei, fakaalofa lahi atu, bula vinaka, malo ni, halo ola keta, mauri, fakatalofa atu, and warm Pacific greetings!
We're celebrating our Pacific health research in the Division of Health Sciences.
Learn about what's going on in Pacific health research, how we can support researchers, and where to start if you're excited about research.
The School of Pharmacy has a very active research programme with disciplines ranging from science to humanities with each having a strong contextual link to health sciences.
- Clinical Pharmacy: concerned with patient care and the optimisation of medicine use in order to promote health and wellness, and prevent disease.
- Pharmaceutical Sciences: drug discovery, drug metabolism and drug action to extend the range of drugs available and to provide a scientific basis for the quality use of medicines and bioactive substances.
We advance research and increase knowledge for the improvement of oral health in New Zealand. Our research aims are to develop clinical research that translates discoveries into measurable health benefits, and to maintain fundamental research that underpins our teaching. From the molecular level through biological systems to the health of populations, our research is improving oral health in New Zealand.
The Social and Behavioural Research Unit was established in 1990 with core funding from the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the support of the University of Otago. Presently it has research programmes in priority areas of tobacco control, ultraviolet radiation exposure, physical activity and nutrition, psycho-social-spiritual factors, alcohol, and Hauora Māori.
Sustainability Research at Otago is a guide to our specialised research collaborations working towards a sustainable future.
Our multidisciplinary knowledge base and extensive networks provide a powerhouse of research expertise to find solutions to the planet's most pressing challenges.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals guide our research. Our expertise in applied practice focuses on delivering a better future for people and our environment.
Two studies are providing invaluable insights into the health and well-being of Pacific youth in New Zealand.
As part of a growing focus on how New Zealanders can age well, Professor David Baxter is investigating the impact of pain and its associated disabilities on older people’s lives.
Sugar, carbohydrate, sodium: nutrition research at Otago is influencing and informing World Health Organization guidelines.
Professor Rachael Taylor is modifying both the eating and activity patterns of our babies and children.
Dr Rose Richards Hessell presents at the Otago Spotlight Series: Cancer Research symposium.
Presented video and powerpoint
- What does the public know about preventing cancer? (16 minute video)
- What does the public know about preventing cancer? (PDF 830KB)
View Associate Professor Richard Egan's work about health beyond biomedical parameters.
Presented video and powerpoint
- Psycho-social-spiritual dimensions of care (video approx 18 mins)
- Psycho-social-spiritual dimensions of care (PDF 1.4MB)