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Issue 407 | 5 August 2016 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean


Last week we were treated to an exceptional inaugural lecture from Professor Ian Bissett, Head of the Department of Surgery who spoke of his fascinating journey as a young graduate of Auckland medical school, to the poor hospitals of Nepal and to the surgical suites of Auckland hospital.   

This was a heartfelt and entertaining lecture that even included some fascinating descriptions of the mechanism of faecal incontinence. It was a very strong turnout from faculty, friends and family, on a very wild and wintry night. Inaugural lectures are really one of the highlights of our academic year and I strongly urge staff to attend, not only to show support but also to learn just a little about the history and journey of our newest professors.

A reminder that we farewell Mr Richard Swain, Director of Faculty Operations with a function in the Atrium on Monday at 4pm. I announced at Faculty last night that Mr Stuart Glasson will be acting DFO, while we undergo a search and recruitment for a replacement.

Faculty paid a warm tribute to Dr Judy O’Brien from the Faculty of Science who is retiring. Judy has represented the Faculty of Science for more than 15 years and has diligently attended almost all our faculty meetings. Judy has also worked closely and collegially with senior members of the School of Medical Sciences in relation to the shared Biomedical Science suite of academic programmes and is one of the reasons why the BSc Biomed has remained a strong cross-faculty programme.   

I presented the Faculty’s Academic Profile to the Vice Chancellor and Senior Leadership Team last Thursday and would now like to present this to faculty sometime in the coming weeks. There are few surprises, but central to the long term plan is the notion of developing a health research precinct at Grafton which is strategically aligned to the Auckland Academic Health Alliance.

Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland

 

Cancer chemist’s contribution recognised in America


Image of Distinguished Professor Bill Denny
Distinguished Professor Bill Denny

Congratulations to Distinguished Professor Bill Denny who will be inducted into the American Chemical Society’s Hall of Fame later this month.

This is a signifiant recognition of Bill’s contribution to medicinal chemistry.

In its latest newsletter the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the American Chemical Society announced that it would induct five medicinal chemists into the Society’s Hall of Fame at its next meeting on August 23.

He was the recipient of the American Chemical Society's Division of Medicinal Chemistry Award in 2014.

The newsletter citation says Bill received his MSc. (1st class) in 1967 and his PhD (under the direction of Professor Con Cambie) in 1969 from the University of Auckland.

He then undertook post-doctoral training at Oxford University in the Dyson Perrins Laboratory, working under the direction of Professor Sir Ewart Jones.

Bill returned to New Zealand and joined the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) as a Senior Research Fellow, working on development of the topo II inhibitor amsacrine, which was FDA-approved in 1984 in a collaboration with Parke-Davis.

He is Director of the ACSRC and in 2011 he was appointed to a Distinguished Professorship. The ACSRC under Bill’s leadership has to date brought a further 12 drugs to clinical trial.

Bill was a co-founding scientist of the start-up companies Proacta Inc and Pathway Therapeutics. He is an author or co-author on 660 publications (including reviews and book chapters) and a co-inventor on 47 issued US patents.

 

International exchange award with Oxford


Image of Associate Professor Johanna Montgomery
Associate Professor Johanna Montgomery

Congratulations to Associate Professor Johanna Montgomery from the Department of Physiology and Centre for Brain Research who was recently a joint recipient of a Royal Society International Exchange Award with Oxford University.

This award by the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, is for two researchers from two international universities to fund travel and lab visits over a two year period to establish a new collaboration.

This award is between Dr Rebecca Burton at Oxford and Dr Montgomery here in Auckland and begins in September for two years.

Their new collaborative research is entitled ‘Novel biophysical approaches to study the neuronal control of heart rhythm’.

The scheme brief says it is intended to stimulate new collaborations between UK based scientists and “the best scientists from around the world”.

They were also chosen for the Royal Society’s Colin Pillinger International Exchange Award as part of this – an award made possible by family and friends of Colin Pillinger.

 

New professor inaugurals underway


Image of Professor Ian Bissett (centre) gave the first of this year’s inaugural lectures at the Faculty last week. He was introduced by his good friend, Professor Bryan Parry (right) and the response was given by the Head of the School of Medicine, Professor Alan Merry (left).
Professor Ian Bissett (centre) gave the first of this year’s inaugural lectures at the Faculty last week. He was introduced by his good friend, Professor Bryan Parry (right) and the response was given by the Head of the School of Medicine, Professor Alan Merry (left).

Congratulations to Professor Ian Bissett who gave an outstanding inaugural lecture at our Grafton campus last week.
 
There was a great turnout from colleagues, family and friends to hear Professor Bissett talk about 'The starved, the malignant and the unmentionable: my journey in colorectal research'. His good friend and colleague, Professor Bryan Parry, introduced Ian.
 
Professor Bissett began his medical career at the University of Auckland Medical School (graduating in 1978) and was appointed the Head of the Department of Surgery here in 2011. It was the decision to take the three months of his medical elective training in Nepal that changed his life and the course of his career. 

Read more
 
Our next two inaugural lectures promise to be as entertaining and compelling as the first one.
 
Professor Peter Gilling from the Department of Surgery in our School of Medicine, will give his lecture next week Tuesday 9 August.
 
Professor Gilling’s lecture (‘Only men, dogs and chimpanzees...’), will describe how a new surgical procedure conceived and refined in Tauranga has become the ‘gold standard’ for surgically managing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia worldwide.
 
Read more for further details about this event.
 
Professor Janie Sheridan from the School of Pharmacy, will give her lecture next week Thursday, 11 August.
 
Professor Sheridan’s lecture (‘We’ve got the power: collaboration and teamwork in drug and alcohol harm reduction’) will highlight the combination of her background in community pharmacy and her passion for understanding and reducing substance-related harm in the context of research, practice and teaching.
 
Read more for further details about this event.
 
Looking forward to meeting with friends and family supporting the professors on their big day.

 

2016 Teaching and Clinical Educator Awards


Image of Associate Professors Warwick Bagg and Andy Wearn at the teaching awards this week.
Associate Professors Warwick Bagg and Andy Wearn at the teaching awards this week
Image of Teaching and clinical educator award recipients for 2016 are from left; Dr Frederick Sundrum, Dr Tana Fishman, Professor Janusz Lipski, Associate Professor Andy Wearn, Natalie James, Dr Louise Curley, and Angelene van der Westhuizen. Absent: Dr Helen Pilmore.
Award receipients from left: Dr Frederick Sundrum, Dr Tana Fishman, Professor Janusz Lipski, Associate Professor Andy Wearn, Natalie James, Dr Louise Curley, and Angelene van der Westhuizen. Absent: Dr Helen Pilmore

The teaching skills of eight staff were celebrated at the Faculty’s annual Butland Teaching Excellence Awards and the Dennis Pickup Clinical Educator Awards last month.
 
The awards recognise these clinicians and practitioners for their teaching skills and the time they give to assist in the education of health professionals.
 
Recipients came from backgrounds in renal medicine, general practice, pharmacy, psychological medicine, and physiology.
 
Those who received awards were;
 
Dennis Pickup Awards (Clinical Educators)

Butland Teaching Excellence Awards

Congratulations to all our teaching and clinical teaching staff who gained these well-deserved awards.
 
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