Deans diary header
Issue 391 | 16 October 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

The past fortnight has for me, centred around people: maintaining key external relationships as well as internally focussing on our staff.

Last week Richard Swain, our Director of Faculty Operations, and I were in Hobart for a very successful Medical Deans Annual General Meeting. These meetings provide an excellent opportunity for us to catch up with our colleagues from 22 medical schools across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

It has proven to be an excellent forum to share information and consider common issues. Discussions this year centred on work force planning, rural and regional training and problems facing indigenous medical students and doctors.  

Yesterday I was in Whangarei, meeting with Northland DHB CEO Dr Nick Chamberlain and senior staff regarding our very successful Pukawakawa regional programme. The Pukawakawa programme is completing its eighth successful year and was singled out by the recent AMC medical accreditation as an exemplary model of regional/rural training for medical students.

We are very grateful for the ongoing support to our students provided by the Northern DHB and the regional community. It is very pleasing to note that 12 of our graduating students will be returning to Whangarei as House Surgeons next year.

I am very pleased to report that we have a record number of academic promotions to review this year and all will be considered under the new Academic Standards. This is a very positive sign for our faculty. The standard of application is high and is evidence of the high productivity and commitment of our academic staff.

This is an equally important time for our professional staff, who are completing their Evolve reviews and it is a wonderful opportunity for staff and managers to connect amidst our busy schedules. The staff reviews I have read thus far show the tremendous engagement and quality of service provided by our professional staff in support of our academic goals.

Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Chance encounter leads to mobility dog study

DSC_9239.JPGHelenSpence and Chance

Warm congratulations to Dr Helen Spence, for graduating with a PhD that focussed on mobility dogs versus companion dogs for people with mobility challenges.

The in-depth study, supervised by Dr Stephen Buetow, investigates the impact of mobility dogs on the lives of people with movement disorders in New Zealand.

She credits her choice of research topic to a chance encounter with the Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust (MADT), who asked her to look after Chance (a puppy that was to be trained as a mobility dog).

Mobility dogs are working with people who live with Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy and Parkinson’s. They are trained to provide assistance to people with long-term physical disabilities

Dr Spence’s preliminary findings support a canine prescription for people with movement disorders.

She concludes her thesis with the notion of a ‘canine prescription’ as a quality of life intervention for people with movement disorders.

I encourage you to read Dr Spence’ fascinating story.

Read more


Public Health Scholarship addresses gambling

Image of Jenny Arnold
Jenny Arnold

Congratulations to Jenny Arnold who gained a Hoe Wha Scholarship from Te Rau Matatini for students undertaking research relevant to the problem gambling sector.

This scholarship provides a strategic focus for Māori workforce training, education and capability building solutions for the advancement of indigenous health and wellbeing.

Jenny recently graduated with a Master of Public Health with Honours from our School of Population Health. Her thesis looked at issues around public health and gambling in New Zealand.

She was curious about conflicts in the way people speak about gambling and public health, and wanted to avoid making gamblers the subject of her study and assuming the gambler is the seat of the problem.

Read more



Achieving the amazing with bioluminescence

Image of Dr Siouxsie Wiles
Dr Siouxsie Wiles

Head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland, Dr Siouxsie Wiles is achieving the amazing by using glow in the dark bacteria to understand more about infections microbes and find new medicines to kill antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

I encourage you to use this link and read all about her team, research and watch some incredible videos on how bioluminescence is vital in the search for new antibiotics.


How you can catch up on any missed inaugural lectures

Image of From left: Professor Chris Bullen, Professor Andrew Shelling (top), Professor Peter Adams (bottom), Professor Nicola Dalbeth, Professor Cristin Print, Professor Ian Civil and Professor Sally Merry
From left: Professor Chris Bullen, Professor Andrew Shelling (top), Professor Peter Adams (bottom), Professor Nicola Dalbeth, Professor Cristin Print, Professor Ian Civil and Professor Sally Merry

Recently, our faculty welcomed seven new professors to our community.

Promotion to professor at the University of Auckland is a mark of distinction, recognising professional and academic eminence at an international level.

Our series of inaugural lectures has been of exceptionally high quality and very popular with audiences.

If you missed attending any of the below inaugurals, use this link to view the videos for each lecture or click on the below topics to view individual videos.