Richie Poulton illness and health: Did he die of cancer?

Your guess is right if you heard that Richie Poulton died of cancer. As we explore his illness and health in this report, we’ll find out the kind of cancer that snuffed the life out of him.

Richie Poulton bio

Richie Poulton was born in Christchurch in October 1962 to a father who worked in finance and a mother who was a homemaker. He was one of two sons in the family. Due to his father’s profession, the family relocated from Christchurch to Wellington and then to Auckland.

Mr Poulton attended Auckland Grammar School for his final four years of secondary education. While he enjoyed his academic studies, he was more passionate about sports, particularly cricket in the summer and rugby union in the winter.

He was a member of the school’s senior rugby team, coached by Graham Henry, who later became the coach of the New Zealand national rugby union team, the All Blacks. Upon completing his secondary education, Mr. Poulton moved to Dunedin to attend the University of Otago, where he earned his master’s degree in science and postgraduate diploma in clinical psychology.

During his diploma studies, he worked as an interviewer for the Dunedin Study, assisting Terrie Moffitt in evaluating 13-year-old study participants. In 1988, Mr. Poulton relocated to South London, where he worked as a clinical psychologist in an impoverished area.

After 18 months, he became burnt out and financially strained, prompting him to move to Sydney, Australia, where his parents had relocated. He worked as a clinical psychologist for a year before enrolling in a PhD program at the University of New South Wales. In 1995, he completed his Ph.D. program and received his doctorate.

Richie Poulton obituary and tributes

On Sunday, former New Zealand chief science advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman paid Poulton tribute.

“I have lost a close friend and collaborator, and New Zealand has lost an intellectual giant with the passing of Distinguished Professor Richie Poulton,” Gluckman said.

“Richie did so much to advance our understanding of human development and used his wisdom to impact public policy. . . Richie achieved global recognition for his exceptional leadership and refreshing of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study, a groundbreaking initiative that has fundamentally shaped our understanding of human development and life course sciences.

“His commitment to the rigorous application of social science principles has set a high standard for research in our field.”

Speaking to John Campbell for TVNZ’s Sunday programme in what would be his final interview, Poulton spoke of his own pride in the study and his gratitude to those who’ve opened their lives up to it.

“It’s the ultimate in pride. The feelings. The responsibilities. The day-to-day activity. The living, the breathing, the heart. Interactions that really are the… kindest, and some most surprising of all the types of interactions… The study is the living embodiment of what the feeling of working hard, doing the right thing and caring for people is all about.”

Richie Poulton death linked to cancer

Richie Poulton was identified as having carcinoma of the salivary duct around February 2021. Even with treatment, it had spread and was terminal by early May 2021. Sadly, he passed away on October 1, 2023, at the age of 61.

Salivary duct carcinoma (SDC) is an uncommon and highly aggressive form of cancer originating from the salivary glands. Primarily affecting males, this malignancy is generally associated with a bleak prognosis.

It is worth noting that other high-grade carcinomas may present similar characteristics to SDC. Notably, approximately 40-60% of SDC cases emerge from pleomorphic adenomas. Immunohistochemical analysis reveals the expression of androgen receptors in the majority if not all, SDC cases.

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