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Issue 392 | 30 October 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

It has been a busy two weeks and the faculty is now gearing up for a busy examination and assessment period. This week’s diary has a number of stories about individual successes and my warmest congratulations to those mentioned in these stories. 

The most delightful event for me as Dean was last Friday at the farewell to 24 Pukawakawa year five medical students and 10 year six Trainee Interns at the Te Renga Paraoa Marae in Whangarei. The Pukawakawa students have spent their entire fifth year living and studying in Whangarei immersed in medicine in the beautiful and predominantly rural Northland.  

At the farewell, the students spoke with great warmth and affection of their enriching experiences and the genuine acceptance they had felt from the local communities they had visited. The Northland Kaumatua reminded everyone of the importance of the Pukawakawa students returning to Northland as the region’s future health professionals and it was a great pleasure to hear so many of the students seriously contemplating this option.    

The Pukawakawa programme is hugely successful and will be replicated with a separate cohort in Taranaki beginning next year. It is important to acknowledge the exemplary work of Dr Win Bennett, Head of the Northland programme and Ms Caroline Strydom, Site Team Leader who, the students all acknowledged was the glue that ensured the programme ran successfully. 

Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Obituary for Emeritus Professor Sir John Scott, KBE, FRSNZ

Image of Emeritus Professor Sir John Scott
Emeritus Professor Sir John Scott

Professor Sir Phillip John Scott, former Head of the School of Medicine has passed away. 

Professor John Scott was a towering figure in this faculty and there are many including myself, who remember him affectionately and respectfully as a thoughtful and caring man and an impressive leader and role model for high quality academic medicine and research. He was Head of the Department of Medicine from 1979-87 and President of the Royal Society of New Zealand between 1997-2000.

Emeritus Professor Scott was knighted for his services to medicine and was a tireless advocate and supporter of younger academics. Notably, he was also the man who led the enquiry into Milan Brych, the trickster who posed as a cancer specialist in Auckland in the 1970’s; a position that put Professor Scott at direct odds with an army of Brych’s supporters. Professor Scott was fully vindicated and nationally recognized for his principled and courageous stand in exposing a dangerous medical fraudster.

Professor Des Gorman has written a truly moving obituary that you can find in full here.

Our thoughts are with Professor Scott’s family and friends.


New Royal Society Fellows

Image of Professor Edward Gane
Professor Edward Gane
Image of Keith Petrie
Keith Petrie

Please join me in congratulating Professors Edward Gane and Keith Petrie who were both recently elected as Fellows to the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Fellowship of the Royal Society of New Zealand (FRSNZ) is an honour conferred for distinction in research or the advancement of science, technology or the humanities in New Zealand.

Professor Ed Gane, Chief Transplant Physician in the Liver Transplant Unit at Auckland City Hospital and Honorary Academic in our School of Medicine, has led world-class clinical research in viral liver disease. This research directly underpins new curative drugs to treat chronic liver infections such as hepatitis, giving new hope to thousands of patients world-wide.

In New Zealand Professor Gane has improved awareness and testing for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infections which affects 150,000 New Zealanders and is the leading cause of transplantation and liver cancer.

As Chief Transplant Physician, Professor Gane’s Liver Transplant Unit at Auckland City Hospital has overseen 600 liver transplants with outcomes comparable to the largest units in Europe or the USA.

Professor Keith Petrie, from our Department of Psychological Medicine, has made significant contributions to health, medicine and psycho-immunology.

His Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ) is widely cited, and its use has advanced the understanding of how people perceive and respond to illness, with implications for recovery. This includes studies showing the immunological benefits of emotional expression intervention.

Professor Petrie is also a leader in the study of "modern health worries"--the public perception of risks associated with modern technology, often creating a ‘nocebo effect’ and leading people to resort to alternative therapies.

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Excellence in teaching recognised

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Associate Professor Warwick Bagg

Warm congratulations to Associate Professor Warwick Bagg who was recently awarded a 2015 University of Auckland Teaching Excellence Award for Leadership in Teaching.

The University of Auckland Teaching Excellence Awards recognise, encourage and reward excellence in teaching, conveying the importance that excellence in teaching has within the University.

Associate Professor Bagg, from our Department of Medicine and Medical Programme Directorate, was appointed to the University in 1999 and became Head of the Medical Programme a decade later.

Warwick has led many educational developments, including the successful Pūkawakawa regional-rural programme in Northland. From 2010, Warwick led a series of significant changes resulting in a reinvigorated MBChB curriculum. One of the most radical was the move to Progress Testing which was a major pedagogical and structural change.

This reinvigoration made the difference between a good medical programme and one that is excellent, yet future-proofed for up to 300 medical students. Warwick’s leadership of change was commended as “outstanding” in the recent Australian Medical Council report and there is no doubt his efforts have contributed in major way to the earning of a full term of accreditation of the MBChB programme.

Aside from programme leadership Warwick practises as an endocrinologist/diabetologist and teaches in our Department of Medicine.

His research involves medical education in its broadest sense. Recently he led an across-sector team to achieve publication of a national consensus statement on medical student consent.

Those fortunate to work closely with him appreciate Warwick’s exceptional leadership attributes, particularly his integrity and courage in taking on challenges. This award is so richly deserved. 


Fantastic result for SOLVE team at ‘New Zealand Innovators Awards 2015’

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Congratulations to the SOLVE team, which includes the SPARX research team and the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) implementation team, who were recognised in two categories at the recently held NZ Innovators Awards 2015.

The team was a finalist in the category of ‘Innovation in Health Science’ award, and went on to receive a very impressive ‘Highly Commended’ in the category of ‘Excellence in Social Innovation’.

This recognition in New Zealand truly reflects the enormous interest that the team has had globally.

Professor Sally Merry (Head of our Department of Psychological Medicine) and Karen Carter (Operations Leader at UniServices), say the team was hugely honoured to be included in a stellar line-up of innovations across so many fields.  

Held annually, the New Zealand Innovators Awards aims to recognise and celebrate innovative, high-growth New Zealand organisations.


Faculty comes together to celebrate the 2015 ‘Gluckman Medal Award’

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Congratulations to Professor Alistair Gunn who earlier this week received the 2015 Gluckman Medal Award at a ceremony held at our Grafton Campus.

The Gluckman Medal is the University’s premier medical research award and recognises Professor Gunn’s outstanding contributions to research, teaching and service within our faculty.

Professor Gunn, from our School of Medical Sciences, is an internationally recognised clinician scientist, whose research has made a major contribution to society by helping to develop therapeutic hypothermia.

The treatment significantly improves survival without any disability for babies affected by asphyxia at birth.

This simple, practical and effective treatment is now in routine use in New Zealand and all developed countries around the world.

Professor Gunn has also helped foster the development and retention of junior researchers. The quality of his support is evident in the impressive range of prizes and awards received by his students and fellows.


Medical student wins RANZCP prize

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Kimberley Lee

Warm congratulations to Kimberley Lee, a fourth year medical student who has won the ‘2015 New Zealand Medical Schools Programme Prize’ at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Conference in Hamilton.

The award recognises the best poster or oral presentation by a medical student at the conference.

Kimberley gave an oral presentation on the research studentship she undertook last summer, when she investigated the resource utilization associated with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS).

The study revealed that the cost of caring for patients with MUPS is substantial and highlights a need to enhance the recognition and management of MUPS in order to improve cost-effectiveness and quality of life.

Kimberley says that the conference was a fantastic opportunity to present her findings and generate discussion and awareness amongst clinicians.

Dr Frederick Sundram and Malcolm Johnson, from our Department of Psychological Medicine, supervised Kimberley’s research work, which is part of on-going studies in this area.


PhD student cited on School of Graduate Studies Deans List

Image of From left: Associate Professor Henry Waldvogel, Nasim Mehrabi and Distingushed Professor Richard Faull
From left: Associate Professor Henry Waldvogel, Nasim Mehrabi and Distingushed Professor Richard Faull

Congratulations to Nasim Mehrabi, one of our faculty students who has been successfully cited in the School of Graduate Studies Deans List.

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

Nasim, from our School of Medical Sciences, completed her thesis on ‘Region-specific inter-neuronal degeneration in the human’.

Associate Professor Henry Waldvogel was Nasim’s main supervisor on her thesis, with Distingushed Professor Richard Faull as her co-supervisor.

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


Sysmex Award for Innovation in Health Informatics

Image of Winner of the Sysmex Award was May Lin Tye (centre) with health infomatics senior lecturer Dr Karen Day (left) and Sysmex product manager, Deborah Steele.
Winner of the Sysmex Award was May Lin Tye (centre) with health infomatics senior lecturer Dr Karen Day (left) and Sysmex product manager, Deborah Steele.

Congratulations to May Lin Tye, a third-year Bachelor of Health Sciences student, who recently won the Sysmex Award for Innovation in Health Informatics.

May Lin earned her award for her business case essay on the development of a solution to improve the follow-up of abnormal laboratory test results in primary care.

May Lin named the innovation proposal LOOP in reference to the idea of ‘closing the loop’ on test results.

Sysmex worked with Dr Karen Day, Senior Lecturer in Health Informatics at our School of Population Health, to determine the innovation question and the overall judging and winning student.

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