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Issue 402 | 16 May 2016 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

This week we saw more than 560 of our students graduate over two colourful ceremonies. Of note was the large number (30) graduates from our faculty who received doctorates and a special recognition for Dr Bruce Hadden, ophthalmologist and long standing philanthropic supporter who received his MD.

A University Teaching Award went to Associate Professor Warwick Bagg. Warwick is recognised for his outstanding contributions to the teaching of medicine and his leadership as Head of the Medical Programme and principal architect of the very successful reinvigoration of our six year medical curriculum. My warmest congratulations to both Bruce and Warwick for this highly deserved recognition. Thank you to all those staff who attended the ceremony.

This week Karen Dorian and I will be visiting China to sign a proposed dual Masters programme between the University of Auckland and Shanghai University of Traditional Medicine (SUTM). This three-year dual masters will provide an opportunity for students from both universities in Pharmacy, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry and Biological Sciences to engage in research at both universities.

A gentle reminder of those who might be seeking application for promotion to Professor that the deadline is looming. If you are thinking of applying I strongly advise that you meet informally with me first so I can explain the rigors of the process and give advice on what a successful application requires.

Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland


Top medical researchers honoured

Image of From left: Dr Ilva Rupenthal and Distinguished Professor Richard Faull
From left: Dr Ilva Rupenthal and Distinguished Professor Richard Faull

Congratulations to our internationally renowned brain researcher Distinguished Professor Richard Faull and eye specialist Dr Ilva Rupenthal who have received awards for their outstanding contributions to health research excellence.

The awards were presented by Health Research Council Chief Executive, Professor Kath McPherson and Board Chair Dr Lester Levy at the University of Auckland’s annual “Celebrating Research Excellence Awards”.

Since being awarded his first HRC project grant 25 years ago, Professor Faull has gone on to lead a further three more HRC funded projects and four HRC funded programmes in the area of neuro-degeneration in the human brain.

Professor Faull is director of the Centre of Brain Research at the University and Co-Director of the Brain Research New Zealand, national research collaboration.

Read more on Professor Faull’s achievements

Dr Rupenthal was recognised for her outstanding contribution to health research excellence as an emerging researcher at the University of Auckland.  

Professor McPherson recalls that since completing her PhD eight years ago, Dr Rupenthal a pharmaceutical scientist working alongside clinician-researchers has shown excellent progression in her research career.

Dr Rupenthal is a senior lecturer at the Department of Ophthalmology and the director of the department’s Buchanan Ocular Therapeutics Unit.

Read more on Dr Rupenthal’s achievements


Commercialisation medals

Image of Associate Professor Nikki Turner
Associate Professor Nikki Turner

Congratulations to Associate Professor Nikki Turner who won one of the “Vice-Chancellor’s Commercialisation Medals” at the Celebrating Research Excellence Awards this month.

Dr Nikki Turner is the director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) and specialises in primary health care, preventive child health issues and immunisation.

Under Nikki’s supervision the IMAC centre has become a national communication, coordination, education and research centre. Additionally, New Zealand’s immunisation rates have significantly increased, with around 94% being fully immunised.

Her work is internationally recognised and Nikki has a strong involvement with international consultancies with World Health Organisation and other NGOs around immunisation and child health.

Read more


Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards

Image of MAPAS Team with the Vice Chancellor
MAPAS Team with the Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon

Last week the University of Auckland hosted the” Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards” for Professional Staff as well as awards for Health, Safety and Wellbeing and Environmental Sustainability which were open to both professional and academic staff.

These awards recognise and reward excellence in a wide variety of activities that contribute to the University’s teaching, research and community service endeavours.

I’m very proud that our faculty has secured three out of seven awards in this University-wide event.

Our congratulations to the following award recipients:

  • MAPAS Team for winning the category of “Setting Direction: Customer/Stake Holder Experience” for delivering a flagship admissions and support equity programme targeting Māori and Pacific students for our faculty.

  • Ian Sayer won the “Innovating and Engaging” award for his work on a developing a web-based calculator for the 2015 ACR/EULAR Gout Classification Criteria which will define disease in all new gout research.

  • HazTRAC Subject Matter Experts (Faculty of Science and Medical and Health Sciences) won the “Setting Direction in Health, Safety and Wellbeing” category for their work on the implementation and standardisation of SciQuest ERM University-wide, substantially reducing the risk from both chemicals and biologicals to staff and students.

Read more


Auckland Inventors Fund launched

Last week, UniServices launched the University of Auckland Inventors Fund (UoAIF) at the Celebrating Research event.

This will mean an “evergreen”, open-ended $10 million investment fund which will be accessible to University researchers and students for the development of technologies for commercialisation.

This is to enable researchers and students to transform good research into good businesses and new products.

This early funding is the riskiest stage of the process and typically no other sources of capital are available.
For more information, check out the Guide to the Inventors Fund and the Guide for Researchers.


University Research Excellence Forum

Image of Distinguished Professor Jane Harding
Distinguished Professor Jane Harding
Image of Distinguished Professor Ian Reid
Distinguished Professor Ian Reid

The university will soon be showcasing the inaugural “University Research Excellence Forum” early next month.

This forum will feature short and snappy presentations from over 30 top researchers from around the university. Our faculty has excellent representation including Distinguished Professors Ian Reid and Jane Harding.

The first session will feature a presentation from Jane Harding and will be chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Jim Metson.

This brilliant initiative is endorsed by the University’s Research Committee and will be of interest to fellow researchers and postgraduate students.

This is a great opportunity to network and increase collaboration and awareness of the talent at our university and faculty.

The first session will be held on Wednesday 8 June at the Conference Centre.

Full programme details will be posted here.  



Autumn Graduation largest on record for the faculty


Graduation is one of the biggest highlights of our year, for both students and staff here at the faculty.

Our Autumn Graduation, held on Wednesday 11 May, was a fantastic event and I felt very honoured to be part of it.

This year our faculty’s ceremonies saw 642 graduands receive their degrees, diplomas and doctorates in person at the Aotea Centre.

A further 197 graduands had their achievements recognised in absentia, marking this year as the largest graduation on record for the faculty.

We had 30 individuals receiving their PhD, with another six graduands receiving their MD.

On Graduation day, the faculty hosted a breakfast in the marquee at Old Government House, where many of our students joined staff, family and friends to celebrate. This was then followed with a street procession from the University to the Aotea Centre.

Congratulations to all those who graduated on Wednesday (all your hard work has paid off!).

A special thanks and appreciation to all staff that attended and assisted in making graduation a big success. 


Medical graduate continues family tradition

Image of From left: Dr Rachael Windsor with her father, Professor John Windsor.
From left: Dr Rachael Windsor with her father, Professor John Windsor.

One of this month’s 185 medical graduates at the Aotea Centre was Dr Rachael Windsor, the daughter of our Professor John Windsor who has a personal chair in Surgery.

Rachael was continuing a long family tradition when she graduated, following in the footsteps of two grandfathers, who were both surgeons.

She is now working as a Junior Doctor at Whangarei Hospital, enjoying the wide variety of challenges that comes with this role.

Read more of Rachael’s story here.