Pioneering University of Otago
deer researcher Prof Frank Griffin has gained more than the
usual recognition through becoming an honorary Officer of the
New Zealand Order of Merit.
Prof Griffin (57), an
immunologist and director of the university's deer research
laboratory, is an Irish citizen.
Accordingly, he needed, and
subsequently received, permission from the office of the Irish
president, Mary McAleese, before he could receive an honour from
The New Zealand honour citation
states that Prof Griffin is "an internationally recognised
immunologist who has made a particular contribution to the
understanding of tuberculosis infections in animals".
Research from his laboratory
has led to the development of new immune technology to control
tuberculosis in deer, and improved diagnostic techniques for
cattle and sheep.
Prof Griffin said there was
something "extra special" about receiving an honour
from New Zealand, given that he was not a New Zealand citizen.
He was touched and excited that
his name had been put forward for the honour and that people had
also gone to the trouble to gain permission from the Irish
authorities on his behalf.
Prof Griffin, who has been on
the staff of the university microbiology department since 1973,
said he was a "great defender" of New Zealand, where
he had now spent more than half his life.
The honour also acknowledged
the work of other researchers working on ruminant animals,
including at the department's disease research laboratory.
The award also reflected the
contributions of his wife, Violet, and family, and he was
grateful for their support.
Since 1990, he has been a
consultant to the royal family of Saudi Arabia on tuberculosis
in oryx and gazelles.
A member of the World Health
Organisation working group on tuberculosis vaccines, he has
published more than 80 papers and a book.