Intervention research earns Chaffer Medal

Tony Blakely, who has been awarded this year’s Chaffer Medal. Photos: Craiog Baxter/Supplied
Tony Blakely, who has been awarded this year’s Chaffer Medal. Photos: Craiog Baxter/Supplied
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 5-year-old 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.

Chaffer Medal.
Chaffer Medal.
Prof Blakely, of the Wellington campus public health department,  said it was ‘‘nice to get recognised’’ for his studies of ‘‘very long-term 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 then-St Mungo’s College Medical School in Glasgow, Scotland (1895-96).

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.

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