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Leading international researcher wins Innovation Medal

Leading international researcher wins Canterbury Innovation Medal

August 1, 2014

A leading New Zealand communications disorders researcher who has improved the quality of life of patients and made financial savings for the health care industry has won the University of Canterbury’s Innovation Medal for 2014.

Dr Maggie-Lee Huckabee, who is a world leader in cough-reflex research of stroke patients, will receive her medal at the Chancellor’s annual dinner later this year. The university council approved the medal this week.

Dr Huckabee’s world-class research seeks to prevent pneumonia in post-stroke or post-surgical stroke patients. Her work is nationally and internationally recognised and she has led clinicians from district health boards across New Zealand to change protocols.

In the Canterbury District Health Board alone, the rate of pneumonia for patients who struggle to swallow following strokes dropped from 26 percent to 11 percent in a three year time period following implementation of her research results.

This has resulted in a potential cost savings to the national health system of about $1.4 million. This innovation has not only improved patient outcomes and reduced health care costs, but has facilitated a culture of research and innovation for frontline clinicians, which is a key priority for the New Zealand Health Research Council.

Dr Huckabee’s ongoing engagement with the clinical community to translate international and domestic research into New Zealand health care has produced a positive outcome for frontline clinicians.

Dr Huckabee’s nomination received support from hospitals and speech therapists from around New Zealand and overseas.

Previous university medal winners are Professor Keith Alexander (spring free trampoline), Professor Tim Bell (computer science unplugged) and Professors Andy Buchanan and Stefano Pampanin and Dr Alessandro Palermo (pre-stressed laminated timber).

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