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New research centre puts NZ lives under microscope

Friday 16 November 2007

New research centre puts NZ lives under microscope

Studying New Zealanders from “cradle to grave” and using the findings to benefit society is the focus of a new nationwide research centre.

The National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR) is being established at the University of Otago and will be officially launched by the Hon Pete Hodgson at a function at Parliament on Monday evening.

Centre Co-director Professor Richie Poulton says that lifecourse research is an excellent way of studying how and why people turn out the way they do, and their impacts on society.

“It basically means following groups of people throughout their lives and looking at physical health, mental health, development, relationships, family, and a range of social outcomes. The data we gather from lifecourse research is second to none in terms of its breadth and depth.”

The Centre will have two main aims: Translating academic research into accessible forms, and producing new research that is directly relevant to New Zealand people and policy.

Professor Poulton says that while the new Centre will be based at the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, it is very much a national collaborative venture.

“The Christchurch Health and Development Study, also at the University of Otago, is a key part of the centre.”

“Our other partners include the Pacific Islands Families Study at AUT University, the Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families at Victoria University Wellington, and the Population Studies Centre at Waikato University. We are also finalising relationships with Auckland University and ESR, the Crown Research Institute.”

Director of Translational Research at the NCLR, Dr Karen Hartshorn, says the Centre partners already produce world-class research.

“What we’re aiming to do is add value to that research by translating it into timely, relevant and accessible information for audiences beyond traditional users of academic research.”

Dr Hartshorn sees uses for the research produced by the NCLR “everywhere”.

“We’ll be working with media, funding groups, teachers, students, NGOs, the general public, health professionals and, very importantly, policymakers and analysts within government. The aim is to find out the best methods of communication with those different end-user groups and then put that into practice.”

Future research initiatives include projects focusing on national identity and ageing in New Zealand.


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