In­ter­ven­tion re­search earns Chaf­fer Medal

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - JOHN GIBB john.gibb@odt.co.nz

UNIVER­SITY of Otago pub­lic health re­searcher Tony Blakely has been awarded this year’s Chaf­fer Medal for dis­tin­guished per­for­mance in health re­search.

The award is also in­ter­twined with a mys­tery which long haunted a 5­year­old child af­ter she found the medal in an Auckland street.

She then un­der­took 60 years of de­tec­tive work to dis­cover its links with Otago Univer­sity and bring it back south.

Prof Blakely, of the Welling­ton cam­pus pub­lic health depart­ment, said it was ‘‘nice to get recog­nised’’ for his stud­ies of ‘‘very long­term trends’’ in health in­equal­i­ties.

He had switched from study­ing health trends ‘‘in the rear vi­sion mir­ror’’ to ap­ply­ing his re­search ef­forts to fu­ture health sce­nar­ios.

He now stud­ied which in­ter­ven­tions would give the best out­comes, such as to counter col­orec­tal can­cer, Prof Blakely said.

An award spokesman said Prof Blakely was cred­ited with ‘‘help­ing to change pub­lic health pol­icy and im­prov­ing the health of the coun­try’s dis­ad­van­taged’’.

The medal will be awarded by the Otago Post­grad­u­ate Med­i­cal So­ci­ety (OPMS) in Dunedin on De­cem­ber 7.

This is only the sec­ond time the Otago Post­grad­u­ate Med­i­cal So­ci­ety has awarded the medal.

The first oc­ca­sion was last year, when it was given to Prof David Baxter, of Dunedin, the di­rec­tor of the Age­ing Well Na­tional Science Chal­lenge.

Prof Blakely will re­ceive a replica of the medal found by Jeanette Waters, more than 60 years ago.

The orig­i­nal medal was awarded to Dr Harold Chaf­fer, of York­shire, for the ex­cel­lence of his med­i­cal stud­ies in anatomy at the then­St Mungo’s Col­lege Med­i­cal School in Glas­gow, Scot­land (1895­96).

Dr Chaf­fer later mar­ried the daugh­ter of a for­mer lead­ing Dunedin hard­ware trader and the daugh­ter, Christina MacLean Laird, of Auckland, sub­se­quently made a $5000 gift to Otago Univer­sity, hon­our­ing her fa­ther’s mem­ory.

OPMS de­cided to mark the re­spec­tive links with re­search ex­cel­lence by mak­ing the awards.

PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR

Back in time . . . Want­ing to bring back the Port Chalmers time­ball are (from left) Port Chalmers Mar­itime Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Nor­man Ledger­wood, nau­ti­cal his­to­rian Garry Bain and Port Chalmers His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Brian McCor­mack.

PHOTOS: CRAIG BAXTER/SUPPLIED

Recog­nised . . . Tony Blakely, who has been awarded this year’s Chaf­fer Medal (be­low).

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