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A professor of dental epidemiology and public health at the Otago School of Dentistry, Prof Thomson was presented with the 2014 IADR Distinguished Scientist Award in Geriatric Oral Research in South Africa this week.
He was recognised during the opening ceremonies of the 92nd IADR General Session and Exhibition in Cape Town.
The Geriatric Oral Research Award consists of a monetary prize of $US3500 and plaque. The award seeks to encourage and recognise outstanding accomplishments in geriatric oral research.
Prof Thomson has a BSc, BDS and master of community dentistry from Otago University, an MA from the University of Leeds and a PhD from the University of Adelaide. He has been at Otago in his academic and research role since 1996.
Prof Thomson said the award meant a lot to him because it was ''recognition for my work over the years on the epidemiology and health services aspects of the oral health of older people''.
More importantly, it also recognised ''long-standing support'' from the university and School of Dentistry, and from local and international colleagues, he said in an email interview.
And he dedicated his award to the late Dr Jane Chalmers, of the Universities of Iowa and Adelaide, with whom he had worked on gerontological research.
New Zealand faced a ''serious problem'' of ongoing tooth decay in older people, a group with fixed incomes and some chronic health problems, he said.
Prof Thomson is editor of the New Zealand Dental Journal and an associate editor for ''Gerodontology'' and for ''Special Care in Dentistry''.