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Otago Microbiologist Receives Top American Honour

27 May 2002

A University of Otago microbiologist has become only the second person in New Zealand to be made a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Professor Gerald Tannock, a world-leader in research into gastro-intestinal bacteria, joins the ranks of over 1,700 eminent scientists around the world whose senior professional standing and distinguished scholarly achievement in microbiology has earned this honour.

Professor Tannock says he is "very pleased" and feels "quite honoured" to have been admitted into the fellowship of the Academy. His achievement follows his awarding of a Science and Technology medal by the Royal Society of New Zealand last year.

Microbiology Department Head Professor Sandy Smith says that it is an "extremely meritorious and prized honour", and reflects Professor Tannock's "outstanding contributions to microbiology, both within New Zealand and internationally", over the last few years.

"Professor Tannock has undertaken ground-breaking research into the bacterial community (microflora) of the gut in humans and other animals, including developing and applying molecular techniques that are enhancing research in an area with implications for human and animal heath and disease," he says.

Currently, Professor Tannock's interests include researching the role of gut microflora in inflammatory bowel diseases, the modification of its composition through food additives ("prebiotics"), and investigating the gut microflora of broiler chickens with the aim of eliminating antibiotic supplements from their diets.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg is "delighted" that Professor Tannock's "fundamental and far-reaching contributions in his field" have been formally recognised by the Academy.

"Professor Tannock is a very fine scholar of international standing whose pioneering work has played an important role in the development of the Microbiology Department's international research strength," says Dr Fogelberg. His joint appointment at both Otago and the University of Alberta, Canada, which took effect last September, is a "prime example of how Otago is committed to fostering international research collaborations of the highest quality", he added.

The only other New Zealander known to be an Academy Fellow is Dr Duncan Adams, former director of the Dunedin School of Medicine's Autoimmunity Research Unit.


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