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University of Otago academics Profs David Craw, Parry Guilford, Tony Merriman and Jacinta Ruru have been elected Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
The fellowships recognised the "international distinction" of the academics, in research and scholarship, the society said.
Geologist Prof Craw had advanced understanding of New Zealand geology, including work on the relationship between tectonics and the movement of mineral deposits, society officials said.
More recently he had helped demonstrate links between tectonic movement and the development of biological species, including the evolution rate and distribution of freshwater fishes.
Biochemist Prof Guilford is a specialist in cancer biology and cancer genetics who focuses on translational research to benefit cancer patients.
His research in collaboration with a large Maori family identified the first known gene for inherited gastric cancer. This defined a new cancer syndrome, saved many lives worldwide, and provided a new insight into cancer development mechanisms.
Prof Guilford has also helped develop Cxbladder, a urine test for bladder cancer. This test will reduce the need for painful bladder cystoscopies and reduce healthcare costs.
Another biochemist, Prof Merriman has contributed to the pre-clinical and clinical science of autoimmune diseases and gout, particularly in Maori and Pacific people. He has shown the genetic and environmental elements of gout, which has informed public health advice and drug availability in New Zealand. He has also made important academic advances through extracting key conclusions from large health data sets.
Prof Ruru, of the Faculty of Law, is working to understand how colonial legal systems should recognise Indigenous peoples’ interests in land and water. She has authored more than 90 publications, including her co-authored book Discovering Indigenous Lands. This book presents new insights about how England’s colonisation relied on the Doctrine of Discovery as a key premise.