An internationally eminent researcher in the area of chronic disease prevention is to receive an honorary doctorate from Flinders University for his extensive research contributions to the University’s Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health (GGT UDRH).
Professor Erkki Vartiainen (pictured) is Director of the Department of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention at the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland. He is an instigator of a highly successful program that has seen a major reduction in the rate of heart disease-related mortality among Finnish men, formerly considered the worst in the world.
Since 2002, Professor Vartiainen has made 10 visits to Flinders University’s GGT UDRH and has been instrumental in developing a research program to investigate why the Greater Green Triangle region has the highest prevalence of diabetes and heart disease in mainland Australia.
He played a leading collaborative role in establishing the ‘Life: Taking Action on Diabetes’ program which helped 25,000 Victorians at risk of type 2 diabetes to change their lifestyles to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said Flinders was extremely fortunate to have had the benefit of the valuable time and expertise of such a distinguished international researcher.
“Despite his busy schedule and heavy research responsibilities in Finland and across Europe, Professor Vartiainen has found the time to support the GGT University Department of Rural Health each year and has played an important part in strengthening our research,” Professor Barber said.
Director of the GGT UDRH, Professor James Dunbar, said the Finnish connection had been a great benefit to the region and to the broader Australian community.
“Erkki is one of the best in his field in the world and his involvement has been of great value to us,” Professor Dunbar said.
Professor Vartiainen will receive a Doctor of Science honoris causa from Flinders University’s Chancellor, Mr Stephen Gerlach, in a brief ceremony today (February 10) in Warrnambool, Victoria.