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Massey Magazine Issue 13 November 2002

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Health Minister Annette King
Health Minister Annette King is attached to a sleep analysis machine at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre by Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Leigh Signal.

King launches Research School of Public Health

The University’s new Research School of Public Health “Dream team” is on a roll, says Health Minister Annette King.

Speaking as she launched the School yesterday, Mrs King said the four centres being linked together – the Auckland-based SHORE Centre, Te Pumanawa Hauora, the Centre for Public Health Research and the newly established Sleep/Wake Research Centre – were already “highly-esteemed and productive” units.

And the four directors – Professor Sally Casswell, Associate Professor Chris Cunningham, Professor Neil Pearce and Professor Philippa Gander – were all international experts in their respective fields.

“They have already made major contributions to improving the state of public health in New Zealand. Now that the four of them and their colleagues are working together in one school, we can expect even more important advances.”

The Centres are addressing health priorities such as reducing inequalities, Maori and Pacific health, socio-economic determinants in health, mental health, occupational health, non-communicable diseases, the evaluation of community-based programmes, sleep and occupational stress and fatigue.

“The combined expertise of these multidisciplinary groups will result in a greater understanding of the risk factors and determinants of the health status of all New Zealanders.”

Academic partnerships between the Health Ministry, universities and research institutions are critical for the Ministry’s ability to monitor the health of the nation, Mrs King said.

“The new School takes that concept one step further, and will lead to more cost effective and efficient targeting of resources. I want to congratulate Massey University on its initiative in developing and encouraging public health research.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear, who officially opened the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, spoke of the leading-edge and applied research now being undertaken in collaboration with the Wellington School of Medicine and a wide range of unions, industry and other private sector groups. Raising occupational health and public safety standards was the focus.

“Any of us who sit on a plane or on a bus on a long-haul trip need to be confident that the pilot or driver is not suffering from some kind of sleep deprivation, or that his or her judgement is not impaired.”

Professor Kinnear congratulated Professor Gander and her team for choosing to come to Massey. The combined research outcomes would be significant.

“This centre has already had a significant impact, and the value of research being undertaken can be judged by the Health Research Council support being received for that research. To me, this says their work is significant, that it will lead to practical applications. “

Wellington Principal Professor Ken Heskin described how “heath, policy and practice” was a key strategic area within the “creative campus” vision being introduced on the campus.

“Our achievements in these areas - and the national and international reputations of our leading researchers - are a continuing source of inspiration and pride for us all.”

Centre for Public Health Research director Professor Neil Pearce, on behalf of all directors, thanked the University for its commitment to the new School.

“I like working in a place where public health is seen as the mainstream, where your work is valued, where things are transparent,” he said.

“It’s also good to work where research is a priority, where it is recognised as the core business, not some optional luxury.”

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