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Issue 393 | 13 November 2015 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

You will all by now have heard the wonderful news that our Deputy Dean, Distinguished Professor Ian Reid has been awarded three of New Zealand’s highest science honours, the Health Research Council’s Liley Medal for contributions to health research, the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Rutherford Medal, and the Prime Ministers Science Prize, awarded jointly to Associate Professors Mark Bolland and Andrew Grey and Professor Ian Reid. 

These awards are a most fitting tribute to Professor Reid’s extraordinary 30+ year career of clinical research in understanding and treating bone disease such as osteoporosis and Paget’s disease. 

Awarded by Minister Stephen Joyce the Rutherford medal citation noted that Professor Reid was New Zealand’s “hottest researcher” a reference to the fact that his work is cited more times internationally than any other scientist in this country.  

In his acceptance speech, Ian was quick to pay tribute to the enormous contributions made by his long standing team –the Bone and Joint Group.

Two other members of faculty received awards from the Royal Society – Professor Ed Mitchell in the Department of Paediatrics was awarded the Beavan Medal for his outstanding contributions to the prevention of Cot Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  

Professor Keith Petrie in the Department of Psychological Medicine was awarded the Mason Durie Medal for his research on how patients perceive and cope with illness. We are all so very proud and my warmest congratulations to the recipients.

The long awaited report of the HRC refresh is now available. You can access a copy of the report here.

The three key points of the review are:

1.    That the HRC is an efficient and effective organisation with a robust assessment process that is highly regarded and makes major contributions to Health Research in New Zealand and internationally.

2.    It should remain as an organisation that reports to both ministers of Science and Innovation and Health.

3.    That Health Research funding has declined in real terms since 2009/10 and an increase in overall funding is recommended after the HRC has developed a strategic plan.

This is a very positive outcome and I wish to thank all those who took part in the focus groups that met with the review panels. These awards leave no doubt about the impact the HRC has had over many years, not only to funding research with impact, but also supporting the career development of some of New Zealand’s top scientists.

Best wishes,

Regards, John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


2015 FMHS Professional Staff award winners

Uni - Staff Awards14

I am delighted to announce our faculty winners of the 2015 Professional Staff Awards.

The honourees include individuals from different areas of expertise and the awards are all well deserved. It proved to be an especially difficult task this year, due to the quality of nominations we received which also highlights the talent in this faculty.

The FMHS Professional Staff Awards include a ‘Special Achievement Award’ and the ‘Ian Houston Award for Sustained Excellence in Job Performance’.

This year our faculty has awarded the ‘Ian Houston Award for Sustained Excellence in Job Performance’ to:

The ‘Special Achievement Award’ for 2015 goes to:

  • Michelle Chung, Student Centre and Engagement Team Leader
  • Ian Sayer, Application Specialist, Information Services

To recognise this year’s recipients of the FMHS Professional Staff Awards our faculty will conduct a presentation ceremony. We will hold the event in the atrium of the Grafton Campus on the afternoon of Wednesday 25 November and I invite all members of our faculty to attend this special event and to acknowledge the worthy recipients.


Bone disease research sweeps major awards

Image of From left: Associate Professor Andrew Grey, Associate Professor Mark Bolland and Distinguished Professor Ian Reid
From left: Associate Professor Andrew Grey, Associate Professor Mark Bolland and Distinguished Professor Ian Reid

Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Ian Reid on the exceptional recognition of his outstanding contributions to medical research.

The Royal Society awarded Ian Reid with the Rutherford Medal for his career contribution to understanding and treating metabolic bone diseases such as osteoporosis and Paget’s disease.

At the Society’s Research Honours Dinner, he was also presented with the Liley Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to health and medical sciences in advancing the treatment of osteoporosis.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Science Prize was presented to Ian, along with his research colleagues Associate Professor Mark Bolland and Associate Professor Andrew Grey.

This prize was for research that revealed the ineffectiveness of treating osteoporosis with calcium and vitamin D. The $500,000 prize also recognises their studies that showed calcium supplements increase the risk of heart attacks in older people.

Read the full story on these accomplishments.


Royal Society Medals for Faculty’s Professors

The Royal Society presented its Mason Durie Medal to Professor Keith Petrie for his research into patients’ perceptions of illness and how these perceptions impact on recovery and coping.

This medal recognises a pre-eminent New Zealand social scientist whose research has made an international impact. Keith is internationally acclaimed for his research and has brought the importance of patient perspectives more to the forefront in clinical medicine.

Read more about Professor Keith’s research and accomplishments.

Congratulations to Professor Ed Mitchell who was recently awarded the Beaven Medal. The Health Research Council presented Professor Mitchell with this medal at their Research Honours Dinner.

The medal recognises his decades of research into preventing cot death or sudden infant death syndrome.

More than 3000 New Zealand babies’ lives have been saved to date with many thousands more around the world.

Professor Mitchell has also made major contributions in other fields, including asthma, childhood obesity, child health and development, Māori and Pacific health, intrauterine growth restriction, and most recently stillbirth.

He also initiated and led the subsequent ‘back to sleep’ preventative public health programme in New Zealand that is credited with saving so many young lives.

Read more about Professor Ed Mitchell’s accomplishments.


Image of Professor Keith Petrie
Professor Keith Petrie
Image of Professor Ed Mitchell
Professor Ed Mitchell

2015 Marsden Fund grants of $3.7 million

Uni of Auckland9

Congratulations to our staff members who have been successful in gaining Marsden fund grants this year for their research projects.

Our faculty has had a great result with more than $3.7 million secured for medical and health research projects.

I would also like to acknowledge the other seven applicants from the Faculty that were invited to the second round and also to acknowledge the efforts of those who submitted the 59 applications to the first round. In an increasingly tough research funding environment we recognise the time and effort taken to develop proposals to the high standards expected from our funding agencies.

The six awarded grants from the 2015 Marsden Fund round are as follows:

Read more


Early career recognition for cancer research

Image of Dr Francis Hunter
Dr Francis Hunter

Congratulations to Dr Francis Hunter who secured one of the four annual places on a leading global cancer research council.

Dr Hunter is the first New Zealand scientist to be selected for a three-year term on the Associate Member Council of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). This ‘first’ is a pivotal achievement as Francis’ appointment is one of very few from outside the US.

This recognises that the AACR involves not only North America and Europe, but also smaller countries like New Zealand, which has a long and distinguished history of cancer research.

The AACR plays an important role in global communication and collaboration in unifying cancer research efforts. It is the largest organisation for cancer research in the world, with a global membership of 37,000 clinicians and scientists.

Of those, more than 14,000 are represented by the Associate Member Council (AMC) – a group established to provide training support and leadership for early career cancer researchers.

Francis is an early career oncology researcher here at the University of Auckland, which makes this appointment an outstanding achievement for him at this early stage of his career.

Thanks to Professor Bradly Wouters, Research Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto who nominated Dr Hunter for this position.

Francis is a truly valued member of our faculty.

You can read more about Dr Francis Hunter’s journey and achievements. 


Medical student wins prestigious Brocklehurst prize

Image of Minsoo Kim
Minsoo Kim

Minsoo Kim (4th year medical student) received the prestigious Brocklehurst prize for the best ‘Clinical Quality’ poster presentation at the British Geriatrics Society in Brighton (UK) in October.

This is a bi-annual meeting that is an open competition for all UK geriatrics clinicians and academics.

Minsoo presented her poster which is titled ‘How do we ‘do’ post-discharge care for older people?’. She competed against work from experienced researchers and clinicians from all over the world.  

Minsoo conducted her work in the Freemasons’ Department of Geriatric Medicine as a summer student project in 2014/15. Her research focused on older patients, which showed that lack of follow-up of these patients after discharge from hospital was associated with major adverse outcomes. The journal ‘Age and Ageing’ will publish the abstract in the next few months.


Winners of Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours)

The Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) programme had another successful round of oral presentations. Six students in the programme showcased their research.

The best presentation for the ‘BMedSc(Hons) Vision in Medical Science’ prize went to Timothy Hardcastle.  He received the prize for his work on “Novel mucolytics in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis”. Associate Professor Richard Douglas, Dr Fiona Radcliffe and Dr Ravi Jain supervised his research.

Alistair Lock was runner up in the competition. He presented on “In Vitro Immune Response Screening of Novel Bone Scaffolds“ which was supervised by Dr David Musson, Professor Jillian Cornish and Mr Jacob Munro.

In 2016 the BMedSc(Hons) is set for a record of 18 students in the programme.


Image of Timothy Hardcastle
Timothy Hardcastle
Image of Alistair Lock
Alistair Lock

Save the date- Faculty staff BBQ coming up


With the end of the 2015-year drawing close, we’d like to thank all our faculty staff members with a festive celebration here at Grafton campus.

We have scheduled our Faculty BBQ lunch for Thursday 10 December. The event is a wonderful opportunity for all of our staff members to celebrate Christmas and the festive season together, joined by their shared purpose and teamwork.

Last year, more than 700 staff, from all of our schools and departments and both our Grafton and Tāmaki campuses, joined together on the day. This is always a wonderful celebration and I look forward to ending this year in a special way.