Deans diary header
Issue 388 | 4 September 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

Last week saw the completion of our mammoth seven inaugural lecture series for 2015 with two very impressive presentations from Professors Nicola Dalbeth and Sally Merry in the School of Medicine (see below). The inaugurals have been wonderfully enlightening and entertaining events and I especially wish to thank the organising team for their superb efforts over the past month and of course thank you to the many colleagues and friends who attended to support our newest professors.

A very successful Courses and Careers Day was held this weekend and I would like to personally thank all those in the faculty who assisted in hugely successful FMHS showcases. The day was so well attended and interest so high, that parents were asked to leave the large lecture theatres to make way for prospective students.

On Tuesday I presented the findings from the recent Staff Survey to a large audience of Academic and Professional staff. There was a lot of information to digest, and I was only able to present the most relevant results but it was pleasing to me at least to have time at the end for a general discussion about the results and listen to suggestions about how the faculty could collectively address them. 

The common theme of this discussion was how we could enhance effective communication channels and to broaden engagement at all levels across our physically diverse faculty.  I will be seeking support from members across the faculty to assist in a response plan.

As many of you are aware, the Health and Safety Reform Bill was passed in Parliament and will come into effect in April 2016. This bill puts the responsibility for effective Health and Safety plans squarely on the employer and as Dean I am charged with ensuring that we effectively monitor and address all unsafe work areas and practices and wellbeing.  The new legislation promotes four key elements:

1.    Review your health and safety practices

2.    Identify health and safety risks in your business and take steps to
       prevent these from causing harm

3.    Lead by example

4.    Make health and safety part of your workplace culture

As a research based faculty, we are considered a moderate risk workplace, particularly with large numbers of young untrained undergraduate and postgraduate students working in some very high risk areas. We already have well-developed health and safety processes in place but must remain vigilant and ensure that health and safety remains an integral part of our everyday work practices and culture. Health and safety will be a major component of the faculty’s annual plan for 2016. 

Best wishes,


John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Launch of new masters programme – Master of Health Leadership

This week the faculty hosted a launch event for a new 180 point masters programme. An advanced qualification to improve the health in a diverse range of populations, the Masters of Health Leadership is targeted at international and domestic postgraduate students.

The faculty developed this degree in response to a call for improved education and training tools in health leadership and management for both New Zealand and around the world.

This Masters level programme is designed to improve the leadership skills of both clinicians, mid-career management and those just starting out.

As an advanced qualification that applies across a diverse range of populations, the Master of Health Leadership will appeal to practitioners, planners, leaders and funders.

The Health Leadership programme will assist both current and future leaders build the understanding and skills and capabilities required to effect change; change that will improve patient care across the complex continuum that is a modern healthcare system.

The Master of Health Leadership encompasses three specialisations:

  • Health Management
  • Clinical Quality & Safety
  • International Health

Students can complete the Master of Health Leadership qualification in three semesters full-time study, or in six or more semesters part-time study.

The flexibility of the programme will enable current health sector employees (including recent entrants to employment) to combine both work and study.

For more information on the Master of Health Leadership


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Faculty Research Development Fund success

Uni of Auckland9

Our University uses a portion of its annual budget to support the research and research career development of University staff.

In line with this initiative, our faculty supports development of the research careers of our staff through the ‘Faculty Research Development Fund’ (FRDF).

This enables our staff to not only achieve the best possible research performance, but to also have maximum opportunities to gain research grant and contract funding to support their research activities.

This year, we have received 30 high-quality applications from our research staff.

On 26 June 2015, outcome of the 2015 FRDF Annual Project Grants was released and 13 applications, aligned with FRDF principles below, have been funded:

•   to support the development of high quality researchers

•   initiate new research programmes

•   increase competitiveness of researchers for national/international funding

•   to stimulate research that has the highest impact and value for New Zealand


Congratulations to the Principal Investigators who have been awarded grants in this round:


Prosthetic eye textbook a first

Picture of Dr Brian Sloan (left), Dr Keith Pine and Associate Professor Rob Jacobs
Dr Brian Sloan (left), Dr Keith Pine and Associate Professor Rob Jacobs

Warm congratulations to our School of Optometry and Vision Science (SOVS) for the publication of the book “Clinical Ocular Prosthetics”.  

This is the first textbook to offer a comprehensive account of ocular prosthetics. It is intended for clinicians and caregivers who have contact with prosthetic eye wearers.  

The book is the result of a long-term collaboration between Dr Keith Pine (Ocular Prosthetist and Research Fellow in our SOVS), Dr Brian Sloan (Oculo-plastic Surgeon and Honorary Senior Lecture in our Department of Ophthalmology), and Associate Professor Rob Jacobs (Optometrist and Academic Director in our SOVS).

“Clinical Ocular Prosthetics” is published by Springer and is available as an e-book in the University of Auckland library system.

The book contains a mix of scientific evidence and clinical experience and includes inferences based on material from other disciplines that are applied to the field of ocular prosthetics but which are in need of corroboration.

The book is written primarily for clinicians and caregivers who have contact with prosthetic eye wearers including ocular, maxillofacial and anaplastology prosthetists, ophthalmologists, ophthalmic nurses, optometrists and students of these disciplines.



Top award for Nutrition and Dietietics student

Picture of Melody Bevan with the ‘2015 Nestlé Top Student Award’
Melody Bevan

Congratulations to Melody Bevan who last week received the ‘2015 Nestlé Top Student Award’ at the ‘Dietitians New Zealand National Professional Development Conference’ in Wellington.

This national award is given to a dietetics student with the highest level of academic achievement.

Melody (a final-year Master of Health Sciences Nutrition and Dietitics student) is currently undertaking clinical research into oral feeding intolerance in patients with acute pancreatitis under the supervision of Dr Max Petrov (from our Department of Surgery) and Varsha Asrani (Nutrition and Dietetics, Auckland City Hospital).

Once Melody completes her two-year Masters programme (directed by Associate Professor Clare Wall) she will be eligible for registration as a dietitian in New Zealand.

Melody has also recently published her first article in a reputable international peer-reviewed journal - a commendable achievement this early on in her career.


Research Symposium to celebrate Audiology at Auckland

Picture of Professor Peter Thorne
Professor Peter Thorne

Twenty-five years ago a clinical audiology training programme was established at the University of Auckland – now it is internationally respected with graduates working around the world.

Next weekend, audiologists and hearing scientists from around New Zealand will gather to celebrate the inception of the Masters in Audiology at Auckland and the development of audiology training, hearing science and services in New Zealand.

Founding academic for Audiology, Professor Peter Thorne, says for the last 20 years, the programme and the audiology group have been a catalyst for developing new research areas in audiology.

Professor Thorne also says they have aimed to build research into the hearing sciences and also make strong connections with the clinical area. Translational research that can be used in clinical setting has always been an important aspect.

To celebrate the first 25 years of the Master of Audiology degree at the University of Auckland, the Audiology section has organised a Research Symposium from 10 September (with an evening reception) and a two-day symposium on 11 and 12 September.

The Research Symposium is intended to celebrate and showcase hearing and vestibular research in New Zealand and is hosted by the now Head of Audiology, Dr David Welch. Read more


2015 Inaugural Lecture Series

Picture of Professor Nicola Dalbeth (left) and Professor Sally Merry
Professor Nicola Dalbeth (left) and Professor Sally Merry

Congratulations to Professor Nicola Dalbeth (from our School of Medicine) and Professor Sally Merry (Head of Psychological Medicine in our School of Medicine) who both recently gave outstanding inaugural lectures at our Grafton Campus.

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

Professor Merry’s lecture - Young Minds Matter Most’ - outlined 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. 

This year’s inaugural lectures have been of an exceptionally high quality – and have been very popular with audiences.

Congratulations to all of our faculty’s new professors for their significant and well-deserved recognition.