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Four-decade old study given new funding

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017
Dunedin Railway Station file photo. © David Davies / PA Photo Dunedin Railway Station file photo.

A world-renowned health study that's been running for more than four decades has been given further life, with its team being awarded the government's top science prize.

The team behind the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study - which has been studying a group of 1000 people born in 1972 and 1973 since their births - has been awarded the $500,000 Prime Minister's Science Prize.

The study - which covers a range of disciplines and assesses a variety of social and health outcomes for its now 44-year-old patients every few years - has influenced public policy for decades, from safety mats on playground to approaches to youth justice systems.

Professor Richie Poulton, who leads the University of Otago team behind the study, says the prize isn't just for him or the unit, but for the subjects of the study.

"I am so looking forward to having that prize statue sitting in the research unit when they come in for their assessment and I'm going to say 'take a picture of yourself with that because it's yours, it's much more yours than ours'," he said.

The study's latest phase was in 2012, when patients were aged 38, and another is in the works.

The Prime Minister's Science Prizes are given out annually and are considered the country's most valuable science awards.

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