University of Otago academics Associate Prof Haxby Abbott (left) and Dr Peter Fineran. Photo supplied.
wo University of Otago academics, Associate Prof Haxby Abbott
and Dr Peter Fineran, have been honoured by the university
for their research.
Prof Abbott, of surgical sciences, and Dr Peter Fineran, of
microbiology and immunology, are co-recipients of the
university's Carl Smith Medal and Rowheath Trust Award, which
recognise research excellence by early career staff.
Each researcher also receives a $5000 grant for scholarly
Announcing the honours, university deputy vice-chancellor
Prof Richard Blaikie praised the ''exceptional records'' of
the two academics, including in their publications in
international journals and ''translating their work into new
scientific or clinical practices''. Prof Abbott's research
focuses on the management of musculoskeletal conditions, and
his findings have influenced international clinical practice
He said he was ''hugely grateful'' for the guidance of
''wonderful mentors'', and for the many PhD students and
clinicians who had also contributed significantly to the
He is principal investigator of the management of
osteoarthritis research programme at the Centre for
Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research. He is keen to help reduce
New Zealand's huge joint-related burden of osteoarthritis.
This condition cost an estimated $2 billion a year in New
Zealand, in wider social and economic terms, including more
than $550 million in treatment-related costs, such as
medication and surgery, he said.
Prof Abbott helped establish a successful joint clinic on a
trial basis at Dunedin Hospital in 2012.
Dr Fineran had earned a growing international reputation
through his research, which involved using molecular genetics
and biochemistry to investigate how bacteria resisted viruses
and plasmids, university officials said.
Plasmids are small DNA molecules that are physically separate
from chromosomal DNA within a cell.
Dr Fineran said he was delighted to receive the honour and to
share it with Prof Abbott. Both worked collaboratively in
their respective fields, and the shared award also reflected
the ''efforts of many students, post-docs and technicians''.
Dr Fineran is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow in molecular
microbiology and has won several other awards.