Deans diary header
Issue 387 | 21 August 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

We are in the midst of our inaugural lecture series with a record seven new professors in 2015 presenting across a wide field of disciplines. To me, these are the highlight of our academic calendar and the five new professors who have presented to date, Ian Civil, Chris Bullen, Andrew Shelling, Peter Adams and Cristin Print have all been delivered to large audiences of academic colleagues, students, friends and the public. 

All have been universally outstanding, combining both entertaining personal reflections with some impressive achievements in research, academia and medicine. The support from staff has been superb and for those who had the chance to attend one, they are highly recommended.

I am delighted to announce that we have received our official notice of medical accreditation from the Australian Medical Council (AMC). We received the maximum period of six years with the likely possibility of an additional four years meaning, we are unlikely to be revisited by a full AMC review until 2025. 

This is the result we had all been aiming for and although there are a small number of minor conditions to be met in the first year, I along with the oversight team are delighted. I can assure you that the work that went into the accreditation process involved months of planning and a cast of hundreds across the faculty and our teaching hospitals and I would personally like to thank all those staff, clinicians and especially our medical students who contributed so positively to this review. 

Much credit goes to Associate Professor Warwick Bagg, Head of the Medical Programme Directorate and Barbara O’Connor who were the leads in this process. I have received formal congratulations from the Vice Chancellor. 

Best wishes,


John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Passion for Māori achievement wins award

Image of Dr Elana Taipapaki Curtis
Dr Elana Taipapaki Curtis

Congratulations to Dr Elana Taipapaki Curtis (Te Arawa) who has eclipsed her early childhood ambition to become a doctor by excelling in both medical and education achievements to receive national recognition for her innovative teaching and kaupapa Māori approach to education.

Dr Curtis was one of three University of Auckland academics who won national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards this year, and were recognised for their combination of inspiring delivery and research-based planning and development.

Dr Curtis says in reality the award acknowledges many people’s contribution and not just her own. It is a reflection of the hard work of many within Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, and celebrates the success of how well they all deliver the teaching of Maori health within the many teaching and learning interventions.

For the full story on Elana’s success and achievements, please click on this link.


Research projects benefit from collaboration fund

Image of scientists and clinicians from our faculty and the Auckland District Health Board.
AAHA Grant winners 2015

Last week saw the exciting announcement of significant grants for five collaborative research projects between scientists and clinicians from our faculty and the Auckland District Health Board.

The establishment of the 'Research Collaboration Fund' (RCF), co-funded by the A+ Trust (Auckland DHB’s charitable trust) and our faculty, is one of the first significant initiatives of our two organisations under the Auckland Academic Health Alliance.

The RCF is designed to support joint research projects, and also to develop relationships between Auckland DHB and our staff.

Warm congratulations to all those involved with the following five successful projects:

  • Professor Jillian Cornish (School of Medicine) and Dr John Ferguson (ADHB Orthopaedics) -‘Clinical efficacy of bone dust harvested at the time of orthopaedic spinal surgery’.
  • Dr Stefan Bohlander (Molecular Medicine and Pathology) and Dr Neil van de Water (ADHB Diagnostic Genetics) -‘Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) Diagnostics in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) using Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)’.
  • Dr Darren Svirskis (Pharmacy) and Ian Costello (ADHB Pharmacy) -‘Development of a stability database to support the transition to an ambulatory infusion chemotherapy service model’.
  • Professor Peter Stone (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) and Dr Kevin Ellyet (ADHB Respiratory Measurement Laboratory) -‘The effect of maternal sleep practice on maternal and fetal physiology: a link with stillbirth’.
  • Associate Professor Johanna Montgomery (Physiology) and Associate Professor Jonathan Skinner (ADHB Paediatric and Congenital Cardiac Services) -‘Joining of hearts and minds to address the cellular basis of Long QT Syndrome’.

Read more


Prestigious award for CBR Director

Image of Distinguished Professor Richard Faull
Distinguished Professor Richard Faull

Please join me in congratulating Distinguished Professor Richard Faull (Department of Anatomy with a Radiology, and Director of our Centre for Brain Research) who has recently been awarded a prestigious ‘2015 Hood Fellowship’.

The fellowship provides Professor Faull with the opportunity to further develop our Centre for Brain Research by visiting world-leading brain research centres located in the USA and Europe.

The centres included in Professor Faull’s travels are:

  • the New York Brain Bank
  • the MIND-A World Class Institute for Neurodegenerative Research at Harvard University
  • the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute at King’s College London
  • the Institute of Neurology at University College London,
  • and the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford

Professor Faull will study how each of these multidisciplinary brain research centres and institutes integrate exceptional scientific and clinical research programmes. He will also study the governance structures for enhancing their multi-disciplinary activities.

The ‘Hood Fellowships’ were established in 2004 to mark the outstanding contribution of the University’s former Vice-Chancellor Sir John Hood.


Medical education researchers earn international recognition

Image of Associate Professor Jenny Weller
Associate Professor Jenny Weller
Image of Dr Andy Wearn
Dr Andy Wearn

Congratulations to Associate Professor Jenny Weller (from our Centre for Medical and Health Sciences Education) and Dr Andy Wearn (from our Clinical Skills Centre) who have each been awarded a ‘Choice Critics Award’.

Each year the Medical Education journal presents ‘Choice Critics Awards’ to acknowledge the scholarly contribution of individuals through peer review for the journal.

The awards are made to only a handful of reviewers each year.

In his acknowledgement of the awards, the Editor wrote, “The Medical Education editorial team are fortunate in being able to call on many excellent medical educationalists and academics to assist us in the important task of reviewing the work submitted to the journal. We see the feedback provided through peer review as one of the most important aspects of the publication process. Your timely and exemplary reports have identified you as one of the elite in that regard.

Professor Kevin Eva went on to say, “I commend you for the high quality of feedback offered in your reviews. I greatly appreciate your generosity in the time that you give and for sharing your expertise and experience”.

Medical Education has the highest impact factor in the field (currently 3.196) and receives large numbers of manuscripts from across the globe in the health professional education arena. It has a very strong reputation and is the go-to journal for health professional educators.

Having two of our academics acknowledged in this way is a significant achievement for Associate Professor Weller and Dr Wearn, and a marker of the esteem in which they are held locally and internationally.

Further, these awards reflect our faculty’s strong international engagement in the relatively young discipline of medical education. The awards also enhance the reputation of our faculty and our stakeholders in the health sector.


PhD student success

Image of Ankita (middle) with her supervisors Dr Julie Lim (right) and Professor Paul Donaldson (left)
Ankita (middle) with her supervisors Dr Julie Lim (right) and Professor Paul Donaldson (left)

Congratulations to Ankita Umapathy, one of our faculty students who was successfully cited in the School of Graduate Studies Deans List. 

The list recognises the achievement of excellence in their PhD theses.

From our School of Medical Sciences, Ankita completed her thesis on ‘Glutathione metabolism and transport pathways in the anterior rat eye: Is the lens a reservoir of glutathione?’

Dr Julie Lim was the main supervisor on Ankita’s thesis, with Professor Paul Donaldson as her co-supervisor.

Congratulations to all involved on the achievement of excellence and to Ankita on the well-deserved recognition from the School of Graduate Studies’ Deans List.


2015 Inaugural lectures

Image of Professor Andrew Shelling
Professor Andrew Shelling
Image of Professor Peter Adams
Professor Peter Adams
Image of Professor Cristin Print
Professor Cristin Print

Congratulations to Professor Andrew Shelling (our Associate Dean (Research) and from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in our School of Medicine), Professor Peter Adams (Deputy Head of our School of Population Health and from our Centre for Addiction Research), and Professor Cristin Print (from the Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology in our School of Medical Sciences) who all recently gave outstanding inaugural lectures at our Grafton Campus.

Professor Shelling’s lecture –‘A genetic diagnosis of Professor” – highlighted part of the development of his condition, from his rural origins in sunny Nelson, to a Bachelor of Physical Education, BSc(Hons) and PhD in Otago, to Post-Doctoral studies in Oxford, UK, and to the recent years in Auckland/rural South Kaipara Head.

Professor Adams’s lecture -Swimming upstream till it hurts: Should the University of Auckland accept industry money from tobacco, alcohol and gambling?’ – illustrated how the act of accepting industry money enables companies to influence policy-makers.

Professor Print’s lecture -‘Looking into a hidden world: seeing the changes to our genes that cause disease’focused on the people and teams who have helped his rollercoaster ride from studying clover pasture enzymes, through spells in mountaineering medicine, gene knockouts and biotech companies, to the current excitement of genomics.

Our next two inaugural lectures promise to be as entertaining and compelling as the earlier lectures.

Professor Nicola Dalbeth, from our School of Medicine, will give her lecture on Tuesday 25 August.

Professor Nicola Dalbeth’s lecture ‘Crystal ball gazing - towards a future of improved gout management’ – will discuss the impact of disease, barriers to effective management, and how recent scientific advances will ultimately translate into improved outcomes for people with gout.

Read more for further details about this event.

Professor Sally Merry, Head of Psychological Medicine in our School of Medicine, will give her inaugural lecture on Thursday 27 August.

Professor Sally Merry’s lecture -Young Minds Matter Most’ – will outline approaches she has taken to the development and implementation of practical, scalable and effective interventions to support the mental health of young people and their families.

Read more for further details about this event.