Otago professor honoured

A University of Otago professor whose research into stomach cancer has saved lives worldwide, has been presented with a top award.

Prof Parry Guilford received the Beaven Medal from the Health Research Council of New Zealand at a ceremony in Queenstown this week.

The medal recognises excellence in translating research into clinical practice. Prof Guilford's research included playing a key role in developing non-invasive bladder cancer diagnostic tool Cxbladder, which is being sold by Dunedin company Pacific Edge.

The test was now being commercialised in New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

As co-founder of Pacific Edge Ltd, Prof Guilford pioneered the test's underpinning methodology and he remained the company's chief scientific officer.

Prof Guilford's research on hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, an inherited condition associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer, had saved lives worldwide.

His work on HDGC meant members of families with a history of stomach cancer could now undergo a simple genetic test to determine their individual risk.

This meant family members who had a negative test no longer had to live with the fear of getting the disease, while those who tested positive could receive the necessary life-saving medical care.

Prof Guilford told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he appreciated the recognition, but it was seeing the results of his research, and not awards, that motivated him.

It also felt ''a bit strange'' receiving the award when the research was the result of work put in by a team of scientists.

The award would be''useful'' when it came to attracting research grants, he said.

HRC board chairman Sir Robert Stewart said the review panel was unanimous in its decision to award the medal to Prof Guilford.

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