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2019 News archive

Pūranga karere 2019

He Kete Kōrero – Summer 2019

Wednesday, 18 December 2019 9:08am


Welcome to the Summer 2019–2020 edition of He Kete Kōrero, with recent highlights from the Wellington campus.

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New Wellington Dean passionate about research, teaching and capital connection

Tuesday, 17 December 2019 9:41am

Associate Professor William Levack from the Department of Medicine has been appointed as Dean and Head of the Wellington Campus.

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Remove profit motive from tobacco to deal with mass addiction, researchers urge

Tuesday, 17 December 2019 11:12am

Governments worldwide need to create non-profit supply systems for tobacco and nicotine products because of their potential to cause significant and avoidable harm, researchers from the University of Otago say.

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Sharp drop in birth rate as a result of miscarriages in 1918 flu pandemic, study finds

Monday, 16 December 2019 11:05am

The 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand resulted in thousands of fewer births, particularly in the 1919 year, largely because of miscarriages from influenza infection during pregnancy, researchers have found.

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30 new Professors for the University of Otago

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 4:51pm

Thirty University of Otago academics have been promoted to the position of professor this year.

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Sex, drugs, smokes and booze the focus for PhD thesis

Monday, 9 December 2019 12:17pm

She didn’t quite manage to get ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ into the title of her PhD thesis, but researcher Jude Ball from the University of Otago, Wellington, came close, using the Ian Dury lyrics to introduce her first chapter.

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Nineteen new Associate Professors for Health Sciences

Friday, 6 December 2019 2:03pm

A swathe of the University of Otago Division of Health Science’s finest staff have been promoted to Associate Professor.

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Expired - blah

Friday, 6 December 2019 10:05am

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Wellington Dean prepares to sign off from ‘best job in the world’

Tuesday, 3 December 2019 10:04pm

After almost nine years at the helm as Dean and Head of Campus at the University of Otago, Wellington, psychiatrist and researcher Professor Sunny Collings leaves the role at the end of this year.

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Uncontrolled online marketing of e-cigarettes putting youth at risk, study finds

Friday, 29 November 2019 11:06am

Only 10 per cent of New Zealand websites selling vaping products require proof of age before purchase, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington, have found.

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Real world focus for postgrad primary health care curriculum

Tuesday, 26 November 2019 11:04am

The convenor of refreshed postgraduate qualifications in primary health care at the University of Otago, Wellington, has brought years of experience working as a field medic for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in such global hotspots as Afghanistan and Sierra Leone – as well as on-the-ground work in rural and urban New Zealand - to the task.

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Spirituality and Mental Health Symposium

Thursday, 21 November 2019 3:51pm

A symposium being held at the University of Otago, Wellington on Monday 25 November offers a chance to tackle some of life’s most fundamental questions, including the nature of reality and the meaning of life.

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Call for a new funded palliative care model as more Kiwis admitted to rest homes to die

Thursday, 14 November 2019 2:49pm

Increasing pressure on both public hospitals and hospices is resulting in more patients being “admitted-to-die” into aged residential care facilities (rest homes), which are not typically set up to provide specialist palliative care services.

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Otago researchers recipients of inaugural $3m Marsden Fund Award

Tuesday, 5 November 2019 9:42am

University of Otago researchers are the recipients of an inaugural Marsden Fund Council Award worth $3 million to investigate genetic predisposition to metabolic diseases like diabetes and gout among Pacific people.

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$3.8 million to Otago researchers in Career Development Awards

Thursday, 31 October 2019 10:42am

The Health Research Council has awarded 23 University of Otago researchers $3.8 million in Career Development Awards.

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Significant association between use of long-acting contraceptives and unprecedented decline in abortion rate, study finds

Tuesday, 29 October 2019 12:24pm

A shift towards the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives, particularly by young women, is associated with declining abortion rates in New Zealand, new research has found.

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New Otago Medical School Dean brings international expertise

Tuesday, 8 October 2019 2:29pm

A prominent neuroradiologist and nuclear medicine physician with a wealth of international experience has been named the new Dean of the University of Otago medical school.

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Translational Research Grant applications sought

Friday, 4 October 2019 2:15pm

All academic staff in the Division of Health Sciences are eligible to apply for the Translational Research Grant.

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Cannabidiol gel reduces seizures in children with severe epilepsy, Australasian trial shows

Wednesday, 2 October 2019 10:56am

A cannabidiol gel has been shown to reduce epileptic seizures in children in a clinical trial conducted in New Zealand and Australia.

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New Zealand could be lifeboat to save humanity from extinction in a catastrophic pandemic, researchers say

Tuesday, 1 October 2019 10:32am

New Zealand, Australia and Iceland could act as island refuges to save humanity from extinction in the event of a catastrophic global pandemic, researchers have found.

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Seven inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair appointments to mark 150th

Monday, 30 September 2019 3:22pm

In a new initiative, the University is celebrating its internationally acclaimed scholars by creating a prestigious new role - the Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair (Poutoko Taiea).

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Milestone celebration as Pacific Office opens at Wellington campus

Monday, 30 September 2019 2:49pm

A formal ceremonial and multicultural celebration was held at the University of Otago, Wellington in July, to mark the official opening of the school's first Pacific Office.

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From polio to post-polio

Wednesday, 25 September 2019 10:21pm

When Anne Fitzpatrick, an assistant research fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington, got the chance to give a personal account of surviving polio to the readers of the New Zealand Medical Journal’s online Digest, she leapt at the opportunity to tell her story.

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Through the haze: smoke-free laws failing to protect bar staff, patrons 

Monday, 23 September 2019 3:10pm

Patrons and workers continue to be exposed to hazardous tobacco smoke in bars, restaurants and cafés, despite legislation designed to protect them, researchers have found.

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Remove nicotine from cigarettes, smokers say

Monday, 16 September 2019 10:35am

New Zealand smokers overwhelmingly support removing the nicotine from cigarettes to make them less addictive, a national survey has found.

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Smokers concealing cigarette packs’ graphic warnings, study finds

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 10:48am

Smokers are less likely to display packs of cigarettes and tobacco on tables at cafés and bars now that standardised packs with larger graphic health warnings have been introduced, according to a new study.

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He Kete Kōrero – Spring 2019

Monday, 9 September 2019 4:05pm

The Spring 2019 edition of the University of Otago, Wellington newsletter

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Otago academic to head new national cancer strategy

Monday, 2 September 2019 12:33pm

The new interim National Director of Cancer Control, University of Otago academic Professor Diana Sarfati, believes lives will be saved as a result of the new National Cancer Action Plan.

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Fellowship fund flies PhD students to the United States

Thursday, 22 August 2019 11:04pm

Three PhD students will be winging their way to the United States next year to study and collaborate, thanks to a University of Otago fellowship.

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New research collaboration to fight cancer in New Zealand

Tuesday, 20 August 2019 8:57am

University of Otago cancer researchers are coming together in a new collaboration awarded a $2 million grant by the Cancer Society in a bid to better tackle a leading cause of death in New Zealand.

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Teenagers say ‘nope’ to dope

Friday, 16 August 2019 11:18am

New research from the University of Otago, Wellington, has shed light on the declining use of cannabis use by teens.

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Healthier homes could cut hospital stays for young children, researchers find

Thursday, 15 August 2019 2:58pm

Almost 20 per cent of hospital admissions of young children with acute respiratory infections could be prevented if their houses were free from damp and mould, researchers have found.

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Moving house related to behavioural difficulties in four-year-olds, study finds

Tuesday, 13 August 2019 12:02pm

Moving house is linked with increases in emotional and behavioural difficulties in four-year-olds, with the problems compounding each time a family moves, researchers have found.

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Milestone celebration as Pacific Office opens at Wellington campus

Monday, 12 August 2019 10:43pm

A formal ceremonial and multicultural celebration was held at the University of Otago, Wellington late last month, to mark the official opening of the school’s first Pacific Office.

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2019 OUSA Supervisor of the Year named

Friday, 9 August 2019 7:04pm

It was only a “few” years ago Dr Susan Wardell was watching her supervisor be awarded the OUSA Supervisor of the Year. Now it has come full circle, with Dr Wardell being given the top nod at the awards.

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Old vaccine brings new surprises

Friday, 19 July 2019 9:23am

New research about an old vaccine – one that has been in use for nearly 100 years – has not only shown how effective it is but also suggests it improves our immune response to a wider range of bacteria than originally intended.

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Massive potential health gains in switching to active transport – Otago study

Thursday, 18 July 2019 12:24pm

Swapping short car trips for walking or biking could achieve as much health gain as ongoing tobacco tax increases, according to a study from the University of Otago, Wellington.

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New data on e-cigarette use among New Zealand adults

Monday, 15 July 2019 12:59pm

Around one in six New Zealand adults have tried e-cigarettes but only 2 per cent are using them currently, a national survey has found.

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Eliminating waiting lists for cataract surgery prevents falls and is cost effective

Thursday, 4 July 2019 11:21am

Eliminating waiting times for cataract surgery would be a cost-effective health system intervention, largely driven by the falls prevention benefits related to improved vision, a just-published New Zealand study has found.

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HRC Grants of almost $35 million to Division of Health Sciences researchers

Thursday, 27 June 2019 9:40am

Beta blockers, smoking cessation, stress suppression in motherhood and synthetic cannabinoid signalling are just a few of the areas of University of Otago Division of Health Sciences research to receive a total of almost $35 million in funding this year from the Health Research Council.

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HRC grants $40m to Otago research tackling issues from climate change to heart failure

Wednesday, 26 June 2019 4:06pm

Climate change and its impact on people’s health and using DNA to help predict who may suffer heart failure are just two of many University of Otago-led research projects being funded this year by the Health Research Council to the tune of more than $40 million.

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Sugary drink taxes reduce consumption, major review shows

Tuesday, 25 June 2019 2:32pm

A 10 per cent tax on sugary drinks has cut the purchase and consumption of sugary drinks by an average of 10 per cent in places it has been introduced, a just published major review shows.

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Hard hitters share weight management knowledge

Wednesday, 19 June 2019 10:13am

A postgraduate distance education paper in Obesity Prevention and Management run by the University of Otago, Wellington has enlisted help from some hard hitters in a quest to improve the management of patients in the community.

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High quality websites and apps could help those in chronic pain to manage symptoms, researcher says

Tuesday, 18 June 2019 1:06pm

Smartphone apps and pain management websites could fill a significant gap in helping to support the one in five New Zealanders living with chronic or persistent pain, a pain researcher from the University of Otago, Wellington says.

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Butting Out: Researchers gauge public opinion on tobacco product waste

Friday, 14 June 2019 11:25am

Requiring cigarettes to contain biodegradable filters, fining smokers who litter cigarette butts and expanding smoke free outdoor areas are measures the public considers are most likely to reduce tobacco product waste, new University of Otago research reveals.

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More awareness needed about lead exposure from firearms, researchers say

Tuesday, 11 June 2019 3:10pm

Researchers are warning that lead-based ammunition is posing a risk to firearms’ users and their families, with a culture of denial about the issue among the firearms community.

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Study points to need for care in inappropriate use of stigmatising terms in weight management

Friday, 7 June 2019 10:21am

A large quantitative research study has found using the terms ‘weight’ or ‘high BMI (body mass index)’ to describe excess fatness was rated as less stigmatising and less blaming than commonly used medical terms, such as ‘fat’ or ‘obese’.

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Opinion: Why are taxpayers subsidising licensed firearms owners?

Wednesday, 22 May 2019 11:33am

OPINION: Online comment from some local gun lobbyists after the Christchurch shooting bypassed sympathy and jumped straight to worries about government "taking our guns away". Despite such attitudes, firearm owners are happy for the rest of us to subsidise them through our taxes.

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Cat, horse, cow allergens found in primary school classrooms

Friday, 17 May 2019 9:23am

Cats and farm animals are making their presence felt in classrooms, with allergens rubbing off children’s clothes and on to classroom carpets, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington have found. 

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Otago’s emerging researchers secure more than $1.7 million in HRC funding

Thursday, 16 May 2019 12:56pm

An occupational therapist who aims to improve the quality of life for children with disabilities is one of several University of Otago early-stage researchers who have together been awarded more than $1.7 million in Health Research Council funding.

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Making the homeless count

Thursday, 9 May 2019 12:02pm

When Dr Kate Amore began researching homelessness for her PhD at the University of Otago, Wellington, the country was in denial that the issue was even a problem, she says.

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Otago alumna behind UK Government’s move to help cerebral palsy children walk

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 8:32am

An Otago alumna has led a study into spinal surgery for children with cerebral palsy in the UK, which has proven it helps them walk and reduces pain, triggering the UK Government to fund the procedure.

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Urgent action needed to end our love affair with cars, report finds

Monday, 29 April 2019 3:50pm

The authors of a University of Otago report on active transport say urgent steps must be taken to encourage New Zealanders to walk, cycle or take public transport, with our use of cars harming both our health and our environment.

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He Kete Kōrero – Autumn 2019

Tuesday, 23 April 2019 9:56am

The Autumn 2019 edition of the University of Otago, Wellington newsletter

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Wood is good, research on 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake shows

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 9:52am

New research has found that only three per cent of deaths in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake occurred in people’s homes, almost all of which were at that time constructed from wood.

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Blending family therapy with creativity

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:31pm

Writing a children’s picture book for the families of premature babies has been a project close to the heart for author Julie Burgess-Manning, a lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington.

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Housing WOFs need to be combined with education, study shows

Tuesday, 9 April 2019 11:01am

Alongside funding and regulatory support, understanding how housing affects health and safety can spur owners to make improvements to their properties, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington and WISE Better Homes have found.

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Kids’ everyday exposure to food marketing

Monday, 8 April 2019 1:24pm

You can view an introduction to a paper where Professor Louise Signal is a lead author. Her research used cameras on children to study their exposure to food marketing.

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Plaudits for tobacco control group ASPIRE 2025

Friday, 5 April 2019 10:48pm

University of Otago research group ASPIRE 2025 has won praise from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand for its exemplary efforts and achievements in the field of smoking cessation and tobacco control.

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Otago researchers encourage New Zealanders to support Arms Amendment Bill

Wednesday, 3 April 2019 4:28pm

University of Otago firearms researchers are encouraging New Zealanders who are not gun owners to support MPs and political parties with the Arms Amendment Bill.

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Otago researchers call for urgent law change

Sunday, 17 March 2019 12:25pm

Firearms law changes promised by the Prime Minister are long overdue, according to experts in the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, Dr Marie Russell and Dr Hera Cook.

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Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Friday, 15 March 2019 2:15pm

The University of Otago community stands shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community. Following the tragic events in Christchurch last Friday, several events are being held on the Dunedin campus on Thursday, 21 March.

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Liberal access to e-cigarettes likely to bring health benefits, NZ study finds

Tuesday, 12 March 2019 11:16am

New Zealand’s approach of allowing wide access to e-cigarettes is likely to be bringing overall health gains and cost savings for the health system, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington have found.

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‘Invisible wounds’ may have cut WWII veterans’ lives short

Friday, 8 March 2019 9:08am

Kiwi men who were veterans of World War II appear to have had a shorter lifespan than other New Zealand men who were born at the same time, new research shows.

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New WHO housing and health guidelines could save millions each year

Monday, 25 February 2019 3:00pm

Preventable injuries and hospitalisations due solely to poor housing conditions in New Zealand could be costing more than $145 million annually in ACC claims and hospitalisation costs, according to new research.

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Train station signs send weak smokefree signal

Friday, 22 February 2019 9:58am

More than 20 per cent of the 54 railway stations in the lower North Island have no smokefree signs at all and many others have signs of poor quality, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington have found.

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Are we closing the health gap?

Thursday, 21 February 2019 10:58am

Listen to Professor Louise Signal, Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, participate in a radio panel interview considering progress in addressing health inequities.

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Surprise te reo Māori finding in pre-diabetes research

Monday, 18 February 2019 2:27pm

New research from the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge has found people who speak te reo Māori have a reduced risk of progressing from pre-diabetes to diabetes.

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New Zealand leads global effort to control rheumatic fever

Monday, 11 February 2019 4:20pm

A three-year project aimed at pinpointing the most effective ways to prevent and control rheumatic fever and associated heart disease in New Zealand is being launched tomorrow (Tuesday 12 February) at the University of Otago, Wellington.

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Cancer Society calls for an end to DHB-led cancer care

Thursday, 31 January 2019 9:15am

New Zealand is at a major crossroads in cancer care and the Cancer Society are calling on government to back a nationally-led, coordinated approach to cancer.

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‘Choosing Wisely’ reduces unnecessary tests and antibiotic use, study finds

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 1:09pm

A Hutt Valley District Health Board campaign to cut the number of urine tests being carried out on hospital patients not only significantly reduced the number of unnecessary tests being ordered but also lowered the level of antibiotic prescribing, a study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal has found.

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One plus one equals more than two for health expenditure in patients with multiple conditions, study finds

Wednesday, 9 January 2019 1:27pm

Caring for patients with two or more chronic diseases costs the health system more than it would to treat each disease in isolation, a new study has shown.