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New Professor of Public Health in Wellington appointed

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Friday 14 August 2009 4:01pm

Professor Richard Edwards. One of New Zealand's leading tobacco control researchers has been appointed to the Chair in Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington.

Professor Richard Edwards is taking up the professorship and the position of Head of Department of Public Health at the University's Wellington campus.

In 2005, he came to New Zealand from the University of Manchester to join the Department of Public Health as a Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology.

His current research includes investigations into second-hand smoke exposure in various settings, the impact of point of sale tobacco displays and bans on children and smokers, and exploring innovations and new developments in tobacco control. These innovations include regulation of the availability and sale of tobacco products and the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.

He has developed research collaborations and networks in New Zealand and Australasia and has led a series of tobacco control research projects, including a comprehensive evaluation of New Zealand's 2003 Smokefree Amendment Act.

Several of his projects are being supported by major grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the Marsden Fund.

He also jointly established and co-directs the University of Otago, Wellington's Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, which brings together researchers interested in policy-oriented research, particularly in the fields of nutrition/obesity and tobacco control.

Professor Edwards says he is delighted to be appointed to the Chair and as Head of Department.

"It is a huge honour to take up this position in a department which has such a fine record of achievement in research, teaching and community service. I hope to be able to serve it well in my new position.

"I look forward to working with the Department's many highly talented and dedicated staff to ensure that our work continues to aspire to and achieve excellence, and is influential in shaping relevant health policy and practice, with the ultimate aim of contributing to improving population health and reducing health disparities.

"In my own work, I intend to retain a particular focus on research which aims to inform tobacco control practice, and which aims to greatly reduce the continuing, but wholly unacceptable and preventable, epidemic of tobacco-related deaths and disability in New Zealand."

Professor Edwards trained as a public health physician in the United Kingdom and holds medical degrees from Cambridge University, including the research-based Doctor of Medicine degree. He has published dozens of papers in international journals and is an Assistant Editor of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, one of the two leading journals in the world in the field of tobacco control.

He is also Deputy Director of the New Zealand arm of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) collaboration and a founding member of the steering group of the Otago University International Health Research Network. His research in this latter field includes collaborating in a programme researching non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on diabetes and hypertension, and tobacco smoking.

Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Don Roberton welcomed Professor Edwards' appointment.

"His strong track record in research, teaching and curriculum development equips him well to lead the Department of Public Health in its mission to contribute to the good health of all New Zealanders," says Professor Roberton.

"Professor Edwards' research and collaborations are very important in further developing sound and evidence based health policy in New Zealand and internationally."

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says that he is delighted that Professor Edwards is taking up the Chair and leadership of the Department of Public Health.

"He is an able and productive researcher who has also taken on key teaching responsibilities such as convening the Department's undergraduate medical teaching. It is pleasing to be able to appoint someone of his calibre to this important position."

For more information, contact

Professor Richard Edwards
Department of Public Health
University Of Otago, Wellington
Tel 64 4 385 5999 x 5089

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