Professor Richie Poulton has been the Director of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Research Unit since 2000. The Research Unit runs the ongoing Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (also known as the Dunedin Study) which is a detailed study of human health, development and behaviour. The Study was founded by Dr Phil A. Silva and began at the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago. Dr Silva retired as Director in 1999.
The Dunedin Study has followed the lives of 1037 babies born between 1 April 1972 and 31 March 1973 at Queen Mary Maternity Hospital, Dunedin, New Zealand, since their birth. The Study is now in its fifth decade and has produced over 1300 publications and reports, many of which have influenced or helped inform policy makers in New Zealand and overseas.
The Research Unit has been based in the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago since 2015. Teams of national and international collaborators work on the Dunedin Study, including a team led by Professors Terrie Moffitt (Associate Director) and Avshalom Caspi at Duke University, USA and Kings College London, UK.
Sub-studies of the Dunedin Study include the Family Health History Study (conducted in 2003-2005) which gathered information about the health of the Study members' parents and families; the Parenting Study which began in 1994 as a study of Dunedin Study members who are parenting a 3 year old; and the Next Generation Study (commenced 2007) which is a study of the 15-year-old teenagers whom Study Members are parenting. These studies will provide valuable information across three generations of New Zealanders.
The Dunedin Study has a partnership with The National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR) , based in the University of Otago. NCLR undertake world-leading lifecourse research, focussing on studies that impact on policy and practice.
Over the decades the Dunedin Study has received funding from many sources, including the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in 2015.
Major funders include the Health Research Council of New Zealand, US National Institutes of Health (various branches) and the UK Medical Research Council.