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Issue 371 | 13 March 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

Welcome to the latest edition of the Dean’s Diary.

I am delighted to report that the AMC Accreditation Panel’s preliminary findings presented last Friday were extremely positive and many plaudits and commendations were offered for the Auckland medical programme.

On accepting the summary, I made a point of acknowledging all those involved but especially Associate Professor Warwick Bagg for his outstanding leadership of the Medical Programme Directorate, and Barbara O’Connor who carried the lion’s share of responsibility and who “lived and breathed” AMC for over a year.

Many of you will have received notification this week that the Ministers of Health and Business, Innovation and Employment have together called for a review of the Health Research Council (HRC) of New Zealand. This faculty wishes to be closely involved. Many of us can say without hesitation, that we would not be here if it were not for HRC support. It is still not clear how we can engage and submit views but it appears at present to be by invitation only we are seeking clarification.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this week’s diary provides some interesting perspectives on the diverse activities across the faculty including a Health Hackathon, an ice skating medical student, the annual Round the Bays fun run, and awards in Ophthalmology and Vision Research.



John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Health Hackathon aimed to solve self-care

Image of Dr Karen Day (right) with Sir Ray Avery
Dr Karen Day (right) with Sir Ray Avery

During the weekend of 13-15 February Dr Karen Day, and her team from Health Informatics in the School of Population Health, hosted a two day hackathon at our Tāmaki Innovation Campus.

Health Hackathon: Solving Self-care’ was held as a weekend workshop. It was designed to enable attendees from various backgrounds to collaboratively explore and develop technology solutions in response to the problem of self-care for long term health issues.

The hackathon sought to stimulate innovative thinking about technology solutions for people with long term health issues. It focused on helping them track and record their healthcare plan, progress and outcomes, in order to improve their overall wellbeing.

The hackathon was a fantastic success with 110 people registering to attend the event. Seven groups presented their ideas to 70 people who attended the judging session which was held in the afternoon of Sunday 15 February.

The five judges came from a variety of different perspectives: consumer, clinical, software development, and commercial potential.

The ‘Fight the fever’ team won for their development of a group of functions on a phone app. These included a calendar for booking and monitoring appointments, social contacts for support, and a game to help people understand why they needed to get antibiotic injections every month for at least ten years after rheumatic fever.

The People’s Vote (a fortnight later) attracted 207 votes from all around the world, with the ‘Fight the fever’ group winning with 77 percent of all votes. The judge’s runner up, ‘Talking pillbox’ was also the People’s Vote runner up.

Sir Ray Avery attended the hackathon as a very special guest and mentor. He attended the opening session and a Q&A session. He spoke of the risk of creating a product that has no conceivable purpose other than being something ‘cool’. He urged those in attendance to think about ‘product realisation’ rather than ‘production’.

Congratulations to Dr Karen Day and the team who helped her make this Health Hackathon such a terrific success.


Medical student skates her way to success

Image of Allie Rout
Allie Rout

Last year, medical student Allie Rout was selected as the representative for New Zealand figure skating at the 2015 Winter Universiade. She was the only senior ice skater selected to skate this season in any international competition.

I am delighted to report that last month Allie skated her way into the final round in Spain.

The figure skating competition was held across two days - the first day being a qualifying round and the second a final round.

Given her fulltime study at the medical school, and Allie’s recent return to figure skating, her goal was simply to make it past the qualifying round.

After performing exceptionally well and making the final round of the competition, Allie placed an impressive 23rd from 34 entrants.

The competition was at a senior level, with many of the athletes attending the Sochi Olympics last year. Most athletes study part-time in order to factor in extensive training in their sport. This makes Allie’s achievement even more outstanding as she studies full time.

Warm congratulations to Allie, and her support team - on and off our campus.


Round the Bays thoroughly enjoyed by all

Image of Professor Andrew Shelling with Mohanraj Krishnan (PhD candidate)
Professor Andrew Shelling with Mohanraj Krishnan (PhD candidate)

Last Sunday 8 March saw our faculty very well represented at the annual ‘Round the Bays’ fun run with more than 200 staff, students and their families participating in the event.

Round the Bays is not just a fun run, it is a great chance to meet and talk with people in the faculty about non-work related topics - such as how training might help next time.  

It is also a chance for families to join in and to see what a fantastic team of people we have working together at our faculty.

Professor Andrew Shelling was first among our faculty competitors with a completion time of 33 minutes and 10 seconds. We can all be inspired by Andrew’s ability to balance a hefty workload and his personal fitness.

The best individual results must surely have been Jake and Toby Runting (sons of Dr Annette Lasham) who finished 10th and 55th in the boys aged 13-15 category – with Jake being the second fastest competitor in our faculty.

A lot of work and effort goes on behind the scenes at events like these and I would like to take the opportunity to thank Billy Choy and his happy team of helpers who ensured the event went off without a hitch.

The faculty had a space in the hospitality area where there was plenty of delicious healthy food and beverages waiting for those who had finished the event.

Congratulations to all who joined in this year’s ‘Round the Bays'. Our faculty team placed 19th this year. Thank you for representing the university and faculty so well.

Click here to visit our Facebook page for more of our highlights from this year's 'Round the Bays'.  


Excellence recognised in Ophthalmology and Vision Research

Monday 23 February saw the Department of Ophthalmology host the presentation of its ‘Excellence in Ophthalmology & Vision Research Awards’ for 2015.

There were nine award winners recognised through the evening. Included among these was the prestigious ‘Calvin Ring Undergraduate Prize’ for the best all-round undergraduate student in clinical ophthalmology, and the ‘Arthur Paterson Postgraduate Scholarship’ which supports newly qualified ophthalmologists to travel offshore.

The event was well attended by senior staff of the faculty, donors, benefactors and families, and friends of the prize winners.

The event featured speaker Thiran Jayasundera who is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University Of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center Of Ann Arbor.

Associate Professor Jayasundera completed his registrar training in Ophthalmology at the University of Auckland, and was a fellow of our Department of Ophthalmology.

Associate Professor Jayasundera spoke about the Argus II implantation surgery in patients diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa. He showed a video of the surgical procedure and how it had changed the lives of the patients. 

Awards presented and winners honored at the event include:

  • Eye Institute Summer Studentship:

           Chirag Udhani


  • Tom Cat Trust Summer Studentship:   

           Himanshu Wadhwa


  • Retina New Zealand Summer Studentship:

           Alix Coysh


  • Buchanan Ocular Therapeutic Unit Summer Studentships:

           Natalija Hana Vyborna and Prabhat Gokul


  • Save Sight Society Summer Studentship:

           Jeremy Mathan


  • William McKenzie Medal:

           Dr Jinny Yoon


  • Arthur Thomas Paterson Postgraduate Scholarship:

           Dr Rachael Niederer


  • Calvin Ring Undergraduate Prize:

           Rennie Qin


Warm congratulations to all the award recipients, and those who supported and enabled their achievements.


Image of chirag Udhani (right) with Dr Adam Watson
Chirag Udhani (right) with Dr Adam Watson
Image of Jeremy Mathan (left) with Dr Shuan Dai
Jeremy Mathan (left) with Dr Shuan Dai
Himanshu Wadhwa (right) with Mrs Andrea Hadden
Himanshu Wadhwa (right) with Mrs Andrea Hadden
Dr Jinny Yoon (right) with Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin
Dr Jinny Yoon (right) with Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin