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Issue 372| 20 March 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

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

We have a number of interesting stories this week. I would like to remind everyone about the special seminar this Tuesday at 1pm from this year’s Royal Society of New Zealand Distinguished Speaker, Oxford Professor Francis Ashcroft.

Professor Ashcroft is also delivering a public lecture in the evening in the Auckland museum.



John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Sad passing of much-loved Associate Professor John Arthur

It is with much sadness that Faculty notes the recent passing of Associate Professor John Arthur.

Associate Professor Arthur was one of the very first appointments to the Department of Pathology when our school was established. He sailed from the United Kingdom to Auckland to take up his position as one of the foundation lecturers in the department.

An outstanding teacher and histopathologist, Associate Professor Arthur will be remembered as kind and gentle man, who always gave freely of his time.

Professor Arthur was unassuming in nature despite his knowledge and skills, and well respected by his students, registrars and colleagues.

On retiring from the medical school in 1991 he worked at Diagnostic Laboratory for several years.

Our condolences go out to his family and friends.


Internationally acclaimed addiction researcher visits the faculty

Image of Distinguished Visitor Professor Wayne Hall
Distinguished Visitor Professor Wayne Hall

Last week, the Centre for Addiction Research and the Centre for Brain Research hosted Distinguished Visitor Professor Wayne Hall at the faculty.

Professor Hall, Director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, is one of the most widely published and influential addictions researchers outside of North America.

Professor Hall’s work on the social and ethical implications of research in genetics and neuroscience on addiction and mental disorders has been widely influential on policy. His broad experience in these areas has meant that his lectures and seminars have wide appeal.

During the week he spent at our faculty, Professor Hall presented on a wide range of topics including exploration of whether stimulant cognitive enhancers make us smarter and whether the evidence supports a brain disease model of addiction.

View Professor Wayne Hall's full seminar on The Brain Disease Model of Addiction

Professor Wayne Hall's public lecture titled 'Do stimulant drugs make us smarter?' will feature next week. Check out the Centre for Addiction Research for updates.


Head of Anaesthesiology wins international award

Image of Associate Professor Simon Mitchell at the stern guns of HMJS NAGATO, the battleship from which Admiral Yamamoto ordered the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Associate Professor Simon Mitchell at the stern guns of HMJS NAGATO, the battleship from which Admiral Yamamoto ordered the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Warm congratulations to Associate Professor Simon Mitchell, Head of the Department of Anaesthesiology at the School of Medicine, who has received one of the most prestigious international honours in scuba diving.

The Divers Alert Network (DAN) Rolex Diver of the Year award is given to those who have made significant contributions to the science and safety of underwater exploration.

It is an award that is rarely given to recipients outside the United States.

Associate Professor Mitchell, former Vice President of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Society (UHMS), is widely published and has 104 publications including books, text book chapters, scientific journal articles and workshop proceedings to his credit.

An ardent technical diver who has been exploring underwater since 1972, Associate Professor Mitchell has completed more than 6,000 recreational, scientific, and occupational dives; he regularly uses rebreather technology to facilitate the exploration of shipwrecks and deep reefs.

Associate Professor Mitchell completed his medical degree and PhD at the University of Auckland, and was mentored in diving medicine by Professor Des Gorman in the New Zealand Navy during the 1990s.

In 2002 he performed what was at the time a world record for the deepest dive to a shipwreck (180m / 600ft to AHS CENTAUR).

Warm congratulations to Simon, who is being flown to New York next week to receive his award.


Welcome to the new director of the Liggins Institute

Congratulations to Professor Frank Bloomfield who was recently appointed as the next Director of the Liggins Institute.

Professor Bloomfield is a Professor in Neonatology at Liggins and Consultant Neonatologist at Auckland City Hospital.

After completing his medical training in the UK and his PhD at the University of Auckland, Professor Bloomfield joined our academic staff in 2002.

Frank has held a number of posts, including as Acting Director of the National Research Centre for Growth and Development, the forerunner of the Gravida CoRE. He is currently President of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Bloomfield will take up this position on 1 July when Professor Wayne Cutfield completes his six-year term as director.

I am sure you will all join me in congratulating Frank on this prestigious appointment and we look forward to working with him as Liggins Institute Director.


New Zealand’s first e-cigarette Symposium

From right: Professor Chris Bullen, Professor Wayne Hall, Dr Marewa Glover and an e-cigarette representative
From right: Professor Chris Bullen, Professor Wayne Hall, Dr Marewa Glover and an e-cigarette representative

On Thursday 12 March our faculty hosted the first New Zealand symposium on e-cigarettes.

Professor Chris Bullen from the National Institute for Health Innovation convened the event. It was sponsored by the Centre for Addiction Research and Tobacco Control Research Tūranga. The meeting was well-attended and brought together local researchers, tobacco control advocates, policy makers and vapers (e-cigarette users). They presented and debated the latest research findings and heard a range of perspectives.

When e-cigarettes were introduced five years ago many thought they would be a passing fad. However, millions of people around the world have since tried them, mostly as a means to quit or reduce smoking.

As the Associate Minister of Health, with responsibility for tobacco control, Hon. Peseta Sam Lotu I’iga opened the meeting. He expressed an interest in learning more about e-cigarettes and encouraged the audience to feedback key learnings from the meeting to the Ministry of Health.

Distinguished Visitor Professor Wayne Hall spoke about harm reduction in tobacco control. He discussed the application of an ethical framework to help thinking about the policy balance needed with such products, and the importance of maximising autonomy and equity while mitigating harms to others.

You can read more about the local research on these novel and controversial products.

Congratulations to Professor Chris Bullen and all who assisted him with the organisation and running of the hugely successful symposium.