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World class research into pancreatitis earns award

22nd October 2013

World class research into pancreatitis earns award

Outstanding research into the management of acute pancreatitis by the Pancreas Research Group at the University of Auckland has earned the Royal Society’s 2013 Hamilton Memorial Prize.

The prize was awarded recently to Dr Max Petrov, a Senior Lecturer in Surgery, working with Professor John Windsor at the University’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

The Royal Society’s citation states that Dr Petrov “has an outstanding research record through initiating and delivering studies which have changed the way that acute pancreatitis, a common digestive disease, is managed…”

One of Dr Petrov’s key achievements was devising and validating an evidence-based classification system to accurately stratify severity of patients with a view to the development of specific therapies for this disease.

Acute pancreatitis is the most frequent disease of the pancreas that bears considerable morbidity and mortality. There is no specific treatment for acute pancreatitis, as it is entirely dependent on supportive measures.

“Dr Petrov demonstrated that infected pancreatic necrosis and organ failure are independently associated with high mortality in acute pancreatitis and are equivalent determinants of severity,” says the citation.

“For the first time, Dr Petrov demonstrated that the risk of death doubles when both pancreatic infection and organ failure are present, thus proving that there is an interaction between local and systemic determinants of severity.”

From this seminal study, a new international multidisciplinary classification of severity was developed to accurately stratify severity of patients.

The publication of a new classification of acute pancreatitis severity as a feature article in the premier surgical journal has met with significant international acclaim and it has been translated into several languages.

The Hamilton Memorial Prize was established in memory of Augustus Hamilton, President of the New Zealand Institute 1909 – 1910, and was awarded for the first time in 1923. The award is made annually for the encouragement of early career research in New Zealand or in the islands of the South Pacific Ocean.


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