Deans diary header
Issue 380 | 22 May 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

This week we learned of the tragic death of Associate Professor Paul Hill, a former head of Physiology in the faculty. Paul died in the flash floods that hit Wellington. Professor Bruce Smaill and Associate Professor Denis Loiselle, who remember Paul well, have provided a moving obituary.

The Staff Survey is in full swing and I encourage everyone to take time out of their busy date to complete the survey. It is completely anonymous and is done in about 15 minutes, but provides information across the university and faculty about staff satisfaction and the things that matter most to both academic and professional staff.

The PBRF process is now underway for 2018 and an Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor PBRF, Professor Merryn Tawhai has been appointed to manage the process across the University. Many of us will know Merryn, a senior member of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute who also holds an appointment in the Department of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences. The process will begin with an internal assessment of academic staff.

In the latest QS World Rankings our university has been ranked the top university in New Zealand for Medicine, Pharmacy and Pharmacology. Our University ranks in the top 100 in the world for those same subjects.



John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


In memory of a dearly loved colleague

The recent deluge in Wellington had a devastating effect on the family of Associate Professor Paul Hill was tragically caught in the floods.

Associate Professor Hill born in India in 1934 and was educated in England and Ireland. Paul was gentle and kind, with a very quiet speaking voice. However, he had great presence. He was uncompromisingly honest and he was never afraid to express his strongly held convictions. Paul is remembered with real affection by all who knew him.

After graduating in Medicine at Trinity College Dublin, Associate Professor Hill worked in the US, Australia and in Fiji, where he met his wife Lesley. He then completed his PhD at Trinity College and taught pharmacology at University College in Dublin.

Paul came to Auckland in 1971 as a Senior Research Fellow in Physiology. He was appointed Associate Professor of Physiology in 1975 with responsibility for teaching preclinical Medical Pharmacology. Paul was Head of Physiology from 1984 to 1989 and from 1993 until his retirement in 1994.

Paul's research was in respiratory physiology. He also had an abiding interest in Medical Education and introduced numerous teaching innovations including case-based learning modules that predate current approaches. Paul was a committed and hardworking Head of Department who was greatly respected by his colleagues. He appointed Janusz Lipski, Gary Housley, Peter Thorne and Ian LeGrice to Physiology, three of whom are still working in our faculty. The faculty also established Audiology as a section in the Department of Physiology while Paul was Head of Department.

After leaving Auckland, Paul and his wife Lesley moved to a small farm just south of Mangakino where he worked part-time as a physician at Tokoroa District Hospital. He also played a major role in organising the 34th World Congress of the International Union of Physiological Societies held in Christchurch in 2001.

More recently, Paul and Lesley moved to Wellington to be closer to their family. In the last few years, he tramped in New Zealand’s wild spaces and national parks, and completed many of the Great Walks.


Brain Research New Zealand launched today

Today our faculty hosted the launch event of our newest Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE).

The Brain Research New Zealand (BRNZ) at the Centre for Brain Research aims to unlock the mysteries of the ageing brain to develop treatments that improve the quality of life of senior New Zealanders.

The project, funded by the Tertiary Education Commission and co-hosted by our faculty and the University of Otago, with additional partners at the University of Canterbury and AUT, will produce world class collaborative research across the nation whilst also addressing key health and social challenges relating to brain health.

The function was attended by the Tertiary Education, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Steven Joyce, who has previously stated the importance of CoRE’s as a meaningful catalyst for increasing the quality of New Zealand based research through networking and collaboration across the tertiary sector.

Distinguished Professor Richard Faull from the Centre for Brain Research and Professor Wickliffe Abrahams from the University of Otago are the Co-Directors of BRNZ and, in partnership with Principal Investigators, PhD students and other key stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and Māori, endeavour to translate scientific findings into new treatments, therapies and interventions to deliver innovative solutions for ageing-related brain disorders in New Zealand.

Significant contribution to indigenous health recognised

Warm congratulations to New Zealand surgeons Associate Professor Jonathan Koea and Associate Professor Patrick Alley who have been recognised for their contributions to indigenous health.

The inaugural medals were awarded earlier this month at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Annual Scientific Congress in Perth.

The awards are part of the College’s efforts to celebrate individuals who are helping to close the gap in health outcomes for Māori, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Associate Professor Koea from Te Atiawa, Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama is a highly accomplished general surgeon at Waitemata District Health Board and also a Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery in our faculty.

Associate Professor Koea has worked with many Māori groups in advocating for changes to improve the quality of health services provided to Māori whanau and communities.

Professor Alley, the director of clinical training at Waitemata District Health Board and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery in our faculty, has been a strong advocate for the bi-national focus of the College’s Indigenous Health Committee.