‘Delighted’: decades of work wins highest research honour

Philippa Howden-Chapman. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Philippa Howden-Chapman. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Decades of research into New Zealand’s housing and health has earned Prof Philippa Howden-Chapman the University of Otago’s highest research honour.

The He Kāinga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme co-director and university Poutoko Taiea sesquicentennial distinguished professor has been awarded the distinguished research medal for her dedication to improving health outcomes, and her leadership of her outstanding multi-disciplinary research team, which have been a critical influence on public policy in New Zealand.

Prof Howden-Chapman said she was "delighted" her team’s research carried out with communities on housing and health had been recognised.

"I am honoured to have joined a very distinguished group of Otago researchers who have received this award, and whom I have long admired."

She led an "impressive list" of 13 University of Otago researchers who won awards this year.

The Rowheath Trust Award and Carl Smith Medal were awarded to the university’s microbiology and immunology researcher Prof Jemma Geoghegan.

Her research focuses on several areas across the field of virology, including determining the fundamental patterns and processes of viral evolution, ecology and emergence.

In 2020, she was instrumental in establishing the genome sequencing of Sars-CoV-2 in New Zealand, using an approach later described as "world-leading".

The awards add to her already impressive list of achievements, including her recent appointment as Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis, and promotion to professor.

Other University of Otago award winners were: Dr Troy Ruhe (Tofā Sāili Pacific Early Career Award for Distinction in Research); Dr Alana Alexander and Dr Erica Newman (Māori Early Career Award for Distinction in Research); Dr Matt Jenkins, Dr Kimberley O’Sullivan, Dr Simon Jackson, Dr Hemakumar Devan, Dr Matthew McNeil, Dr Sara Miller and Dr Stephen Young (Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research); School of Biomedical Sciences Centre for Neuroendocrinology (Research Group Award).