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Issue 398 | 18 March 2016 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

This week our faculty had the pleasure of receiving a high level health Danish delegation consisting of a number of young and very energetic politicians from the Danish parliament.  This forum was as informative for the presenters as it was for the delegates and special thanks go to our marketing team for a superbly organised afternoon.

Over the next month, senior members of the faculty will be engaged in a comprehensive strategic planning exercise to present our current profile of teaching and research activities along with future scenarios.  The aim of this exercise is to predict the faculty’s activities over a three year and 10 year time and to forecast circumstances that might alter our priorities and direction.  These plans will inform our future funding and capital investment in the faculty.   We are fortunate to have a number of strong, stable professional programmes that attract high quality students from across New Zealand and to a lesser degree from overseas and each year we have more students enrolled than we have budgeted.  However, we should not complacently believe that this demand will continue with expected changes in school leaver demographics, changes to the national health workforce, competition from other tertiary programmes and the demand for new health specialties.  We must be prepared for and responsive to major changes.  

At VCDD this week, a proposal was presented for a new Academic Career Portfolio that directly aligns with the Universities Academic Standards. Importantly, this portfolio will be used for academic promotions 2016 and will supersede the current promotion application form.  Those who are considering applying for promotion to any level should keep this in mind.  The final version of the Portfolio document is expected to be approved very soon, and as soon as it is available I will ensure it is made available to all academic staff.


Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


‘Discover: Insights’ forum a huge success

Danish delegation visit
Faculty staff members and the delegates from the Danish Parliamentary Health Committee

Last week saw our faculty host a 'Discover Insights' forum for the Danish Parliamentary Health Committee. The purpose of the visit was so the delegates could gain a greater insight into the New Zealand health systen, and the health issues facing our country.

Denmark has a similar population size to New Zealand, (but with a much larger urban focus) and also relies on public-private partnerships.  They were new to the idea of Government policy supporting the need for doctors trained for careers in rural areas. They were also interested in Government policy versus treatment for problem gambling.

The 12 members included eight Danish MPs, the Danish Ambassador and the Head of Mission, who were given a unique presentation organised by our faculty’s marketing team.

The event was composed of three discussion topics;

  • Addressing the health needs of New Zealand
  •  Live Well, Stay Well, Age Well
  • Challenging health issues.  

Each topic included several presentations from academics followed by a discussion session with members of the Health Committee.

The event was very well received by the delegation with a number saying it was the most enjoyable event in their trip to New Zealand. 

A big ‘thank you’ to the event MC Professor Andrew Shelling, and also to each of our fantastic presenters and discussion panel members.  Each of these individuals’ contributions ensured the event was an enormous success.

Look out for the video of the event in the next edition of the Dean's Diary.

First Dementia Prevention Research Clinic in Auckland

New Zealand’s first Dementia Prevention Research Clinic will be officially launched at our Centre for Brain Research (CBR) in Auckland on Friday 8 April.

The CBR-based clinic the first of several Dementia Prevention Research Clinics to be established nationally by the collaboration, Brain Research New Zealand (BRNZ), led by the University of Auckland and the University of Otago.

The collaboration is between clinicians and scientists and specialises on the ageing brain.

The Hon Steven Joyce, Minister for Science and Innovation, will attend the launch and will be opening the clinic.

Distinguished Professor Richard Faull, co-director of BRNZ, says the new clinic and launch events are both very exciting national developments and milestones for BRNZ.

Professor Faull says the network of clinics in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin are specifically directed towards undertaking research to develop new treatment strategies to delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  

Ophthalmology celebrates research excellence

Winners at this year's Ophthalmology and Vision Research Prize Evening
Front row, left to right: Eileen Song, Victoria Utley, Victoria’s partner. Back row, left to right: Michael Wang, Clare Wu, Andy Kim, Leo Sheck

Earlier this month our Department of Ophthalmology held its annual ‘Excellence in Ophthalmology and Vision Research Prize Evening’.

There were seven award winners recognised throughout the evening, including the prestigious ‘Calvin Ring Undergraduate Prize’.  This prize is awarded to the best all-round undergraduate student in clinical ophthalmology.

Also awarded on the night was the ‘Arthur Thomas Paterson Postgraduate Scholarship’, which supports a vocational trainee in Ophthalmology to pursue a fellowship overseas.

The event was well attended with faculty staff members, donors, benefactors and friends and family members all joining the award winners on their special night.

Warm congratulations for the following award winners:

  •  'Eye Institute Summer Studentship' – Andy Kim
  •  'Retina New Zealand Summer Studentship' – Benjamin Wright
  • 'Tom Cat Trust Summer Studentship' – Clare Wu
  • 'Ombler Trust Summer Studentship' – Eileen Song
  • 'William MacKenzie Medal' – Michael Wang
  • 'Arthur Thomas Paterson Scholarship' – Dr Leo Sheck
  • 'Calvin Ring Undergraduate Prize in Ophthalmology' – Victoria Utley


Rising star honoured as Young Alumna of the Year

Dr Divya Dhar
Dr Divya Dhar

Congratulations to medical doctor, social justice campaigner and business woman, Divya Dhar who was named as the University of Auckland’s Young Alumna of the Year recently.

A former Aucklander, Divya has an impressive work ethic and has frequently combined healthcare study, activism and business throughout her career.

Divya is based in San Francisco and has spent the past four years in the United States where she recently completed a dual Master of Business Administration (majoring in healthcare management) and a Master of Public Administration (majoring in business and government), degree at the Wharton School and Harvard Kennedy School.

While she was at Wharton, she was also a panel director for the Wharton Health Care Business Conference on Health IT and Wharton India Economic Forum on Health, and teaching assistant for a life sciences management programme.

During her course at Harvard, she was Vice President of the Harvard Graduate Student Government and founded the ‘One Harvard Lectures that Last’ series.

Divya’s newest challenge is learning to code, in order to leverage technology for providing better access to healthcare.

She attended the University of Auckland between 2005 and 2009, gaining her Doctor of Medicine (MBChB) and serving as Vice President of the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association.

During her time with the NZMSA, she undertook policy work to combat the problem of “doctor drain” and this was subsequently adopted by the Government.

While at medical school she also founded HealtheX, our faculty’s annual student research conference that gives students an opportunity to hone their presentation skills.

Read more

Brain Day Auckland 2016 – ‘Your Amazing Brain: An Interactive Expo’

Kids from the Ellerslie School Choir – Led by Teacher Maria Winder – let loose after a great performance with the CeleBRation Choir
Kids from the Ellerslie School Choir – Led by Teacher Maria Winder – let loose after a great performance with the CeleBRation Choir

This year’s Brain Day was an incredible team effort from our Centre for Brain Research (CBR), Brain Research New Zealand (BRNZ) and the Neurological Foundation.

‘Your Amazing Brain: An Interactive Expo’ was a huge success, with attendees full of praise and appreciation for the very special experience they enjoyed and also for the contributions from teams across our University.

The feedback from adult visitors and special guests was very humbling – with many saying it gave them for hope the future.  Visitors also said they were very excited to hear the progress our research teams are making and the ground-breaking findings they are producing.

The children loved the ‘Kids Brain Zone’ where they participated in lots of fun activities.  Among their favourite activities were having their faces painted with brain cells, the bouncy castle, ‘Brain Fun with Suzy Cato’, the interactive displays and the colouring in pictures of the brain.

Our Community Groups without exception were extremely grateful for the professional platform they had to network with members, fellow charities, academics and the general public. Being part of this unique day enables these groups to show what they can do to assist those people who are touched by brain disorders. 

Thank you to everyone involved in organising this fantastic event.

Round the Bays 2016

Round the Bays tent

On Sunday 6 March, our faculty hosted its annual Round the Bays event, with more than 80 staff, students and their families in attendance.  The nature of this event resonates with the core culture of our faculty of valuing their health.

Being part of our faculty Round the Bays team is also a fantastic opportunity to network with people who you may not usually get the chance to interact with.

Big congratulations to Aquila Chua, who was first among our faculty competitors.  Aquila completed the event with a time of 32 minutes and 23 seconds - with Matthew Prouse finishing not far behind.

Congratulations to all who participated and represented our faculty team this year.  Our team placed 22nd overall, and our AUMSA team placed 5th.

This event requires a significant amount of work and co-ordination takes place behind the scenes.  I’d like to thank our faculty marketing team, and their happy team of volunteers who ensured the event was a success.

Visit out faculty Facebook page to see some highlights from Round the Bays.