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Issue 401 | 29 April 2016 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

I am currently touring the USA, meeting our medical alumni, many of whom are giving back to their alma mater through generous donations supporting a number of academic and research initiatives within the faculty.

I am continually struck by the truly impressive credentials and stellar careers these alumni have obtained in some of the world’s great medical centers from their humble beginnings as Auckland medical students. They remain unanimously proud of their Auckland education and all are still devout Kiwis despite some of them working in the US for more than 30 years. I can assure you that not a single meeting has passed without a discussion of the All Blacks!  

Philanthropic support is such an important component for our faculty’s success and a significant chunk of the university’s soon to be launched campaign will target initiatives within our faculty. For example, we have set as a priority the establishment of a Scholars Fund that will allow the faculty to provide longer term support for new and emerging researchers.

In the very near future, I will be announcing the establishment of a new five-year senior fellowship, made possible by another significant donation from a long-term supporter of the faculty. 

In this diary, we are pleased to announce the establishment of a prestigious new travel fellowship through the generous support of the John Logan Campbell Medical Trust. My warm thanks to the Trustees of the JLCMT and to Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin who was instrumental in negotiating the establishment of the fellowship.

Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Professor Innes Asher steps down as HOD

Image of Professor Innes Asher
Professor Innes Asher

We are grateful for the contributions of Professor Innes Asher who this month stepped down from her role as Head of the Department of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health, after more than 13 years.

Innes decided that her ‘gold card’ age signifies the right time to allow fresh energy to lead the Department, and this was confirmed for her with the news of the imminent arrival of her first grand-child.

Innes graduated from the foundation medical class at the Auckland Medical School (1968 to 1973) and her postgraduate study in Paediatrics was undertaken in Auckland, Whakatane, Ruatoki and at the Montreal Children’s Hospital for three years where she also specialised in respiratory medicine.

As well as active leadership in teaching and her progression from Senior Lecturer to Professor, Innes has always loved her clinical involvement mainly as a Respiratory Paediatrician at the Starship Children’s Hospital where she holds a weekly respiratory clinic.

Another important contribution is her high profile role in child health advocacy – a role she takes seriously as a “critic and conscience of society”. She has developed and strengthened the Department and enabled youth health to be considered part of Paediatrics and changed the name of the department to reflect the higher presence of youth health.

Innes will continue in her roles as chair of two worldwide research studies for more than 20 years, including ISAACS (the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood), and the Global Asthma Network.

In 2003, Innes was awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Paediatrics and in 2007 the Health Research Council awarded her the Liley Medal for her research leadership.

We are pleased that Innes will remain with the Department in roles that include; continuing to lead the undergraduate teaching programme within the Department;  leading the development of an academic workload model in the School of Medicine; and a role in PBRF mentorship within the School of Medicine.

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New Head of Department for Paediatrics

Image of Associate Professor Cameron Grant
Associate Professor Cameron Grant

Congratulations to Associate Professor Cameron Grant who was recently appointed as the new Head of Department of Paediatrics.

This change in leadership occurred at the start of April when Dr Grant took over from Professor Innes Asher, who has led the department for more than 13 years.

Dr Grant is a general paediatrician at Starship Children’s Hospital and has worked at the University and the hospital for more than 20 years.

He completed his training in Paediatrics in Auckland and had an initial consultant appointment at Middlemore Hospital.

Cameron’s research interests are focussed on the prevention of childhood disease and improvement of child health through immunisation or improved nutrition.

Dr Grant is an excellent teacher and this is recognised with Faculty teaching awards (Butland Foundation Distinguished Teaching Awards) and with a University of Auckland Teaching Excellence Awards.

I’m sure you will all join me in congratulating Cameron on this significant appointment and we look forward to working with him as the Head of Department.

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Medical fellowship would have delighted Sir John Logan Campbell

Uni of Auckland9

A new medical fellowship to help outstanding young researchers further their health and medical studies overseas would have been close to the heart of the founder of the trust supporting it, Sir John Logan Campbell. 

Sir John Campbell established Cornwall Park for the people of New Zealand in 1901 and also endowed a charitable trust for wider charitable purposes.

Announcing the new annual award to be known as the Campbell Fellowship, John Clark, Chairman of the Sir John Logan Campbell Medical Trust and Cornwall Park Trust Board said that as a doctor and ships surgeon, working his passage to New Zealand in 1840, Sir John had been keen on advancing medicine in New Zealand.

The new fellowship will award $15,000 - $25,000 to early career medical researchers at our faculty to support two to three months overseas study and research.

The Sir John Logan Campbell Medical Trust, which has established the fellowship, is funded by the charitable endowment left by Sir John Logan Campbell and administered by the Cornwall Park Trust Board.

The Fellowship is expected to become a prestigious award that will benefit the whole of New Zealand research and development in medicine.


New Research Fellowship in Epidemiology

Image of Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin
Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin
Image of Samantha Marsh
Samantha Marsh
Image of Dr Wilma Waterlander
Dr Wilma Waterlander

Three cutting edge medical and health research projects gained Explorer Grant funding this week.

The grants to University of Auckland researchers were three of nine made nationwide by the Health Research Council.

“Explorer Grants are unlike any of our other funding opportunities,” says HRC Chief Executive Professor Kath McPherson. “They fund research that might seem ‘out-there’, but which actually has a very good chance of making a transformative change to how we manage New Zealanders’ health.”

“It might be high risk, but with that also comes the potential for high reward,” she says.

The three projects are;

Associate Professor Trevor Sherwin, from the Department of Ophthalmology in our School of Medicine, specialises in cornea research with interests varying from cell reprogramming, ocular stem cells and corneal engineering to the pathogenesis of corneal dystrophies.

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Research fellow Samantha Marsh, from our School of Population Health, says childhood obesity remains one of the most pervasive and challenging public health issues facing New Zealand.

She says a revolutionary approach to the issue is needed.

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Post-doctoral researcher, Dr Wilma Waterlander, from our National Institute of Health Innovation, says unhealthy diets are a key contributor to mortality in New Zealand and we need workable solutions to improve population diets.

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Associate Professor Bruce Hadden’s celebration event

Image of Associate Professor Bruce Hadden
Associate Professor Bruce Hadden
Image of From left: Professor Colin Green, Professor Charles McGhee, Dr Wendy Hadden, Associate Professor Bruce Hadden, Professor Alan Merry,  Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon
From left: Professor Colin Green, Professor Charles McGhee, Dr Wendy Hadden, Associate Professor Bruce Hadden, Professor Alan Merry, Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon

A small celebratory event was held in April to honour Associate Professor Bruce Hadden’s long standing association with the Department of Ophthalmology and the University of Auckland and to celebrate his recent success in being awarded a Doctor of Medicine by research.

The event was attended by more than 50 friends and colleagues including the Vice Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, the Head of the School of Medicine, Professor Alan Merry, and the Head of Department of Ophthalmology, Professor Charles McGhee.

Charles noted that when Bruce retired from the Eye Institute, he and Wendy Hadden had colluded about how to keep Bruce busy and they decided to negotiate an academic appointment as an honorary Professor in Ophthalmology.

Since then he has completed a mass of teaching, as well as pursuing research in the department and he has been the go-to person for any clinical or diplomatic advice.

In the last five years Bruce has published a major textbook on Eye Surgery and Eye Surgeons in New Zealand and has also completed the MD, and has now published around 30 scientific papers.

Bruce and Wendy have most recently been collaborating on the translation of a Latin version of a seventeenth century eye textbook.

Professor Stuart McCutcheon said he was glad this was not Bruce’s retirement event, but a celebration of his impending award of an MD. He thanked Bruce and Wendy for the extraordinary support they had given to Ophthalmology over the years.

Stuart acknowledged that graduating with an MD (thesis by research) was not all that easy, and that Bruce had said that “it was mainly occupational therapy”.

Stuart also paid tribute to Bruce’s huge contribution to teaching and research and hoped that he still had many more years before he decided to retire. 



How can we improve the end-of-life care for our loved ones?

Image of Professor Merryn Gott
Professor Merryn Gott

See our very own Professor Merryn Gott in the latest ‘Research Works Wonders’ video produced by the University's central marketing team.

Professor Gott from our School of Nursing, directs the Te Arai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group.

This group conducts multi-disciplinary bi-cultural research that informs practice and policy in palliative and end-of-life care.