Distinguished Research Medal awarded to Professor Parry Guilford

3 October 2017

Professor Parry Guilford in the Cancer Genetics Lab

Healthier Lives members and colleagues are delighted that Professor Parry Guilford (Healthier Lives Deputy Director), has been recognised with this award.

Parry is an internationally renowned cancer genetics and biology expert and has been selected as the University of Otago’s latest recipient of the Distinguished Research Medal, the University’s highest distinction.

The University awards the Medal for outstanding scholarly achievement, including the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, the development of innovative technology, or the development of concepts that lead to significant advances.

Announcing the honour Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne extended her warmest congratulations to Professor Guilford, who she says is the very model of an excellent scientist who has not only produced ground-breaking research, but also worked assiduously to translate it into commercially-available products that are benefiting cancer patients around the world.

Work with whānau leads to international research impact

Among the most well-known of his outstanding national and international contributions to the fields of cancer biology and cancer genetics is his work in identifying the first known gene for fatal inherited gastric cancer, which has allowed many lives to be saved worldwide.

The genesis of this discovery came after a partnership with an affected North Island Māori whānau who came to the University’s Cancer Genetics Laboratory hoping for help in understanding why so many of their family members were dying of the disease.

Professor Guilford and colleagues were able to develop a simple genetic test to determine which family members would benefit from early intervention (through stomach surgery) to eliminate their risk. Since then the test has been deployed around the world. Previously, there was a 70 per cent death rate for carriers of the mutations involved, but now most mutation carriers lead largely normal lives.

Contribution widely acknowledged

His world-leading studies led to him gaining New Zealand’s most coveted scientific honours, including the Royal Society’s Sir Charles Hercus Medal, The Health Research Council’s Beaven Medal for Translational Health Research and his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Parry says, “The challenge now is to pull many new threads of information together as quickly as possible and turn them into new, practical tools for the prevention and treatment of cancer”.

Read the full article in the University of Otago website:

Distinguished Research Medal lecture

View a recording of this lecture from the University’s 2017 Distinguished Research Medal recipient.
Professor Parry Guilford: Evolution, families and cancer (YouTube, 1 hour and 10 mins)

View our 2019-24 Research Strategy

He Pikinga Waiora Research Findings Brief

Sign up to our Newsletter

"*" indicates required fields

Scroll to Top