Deans diary header
Issue 410 | 16 September 2016 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

Farewell Sir Graeme Douglas MNZM FPS  

It was with great sadness that I learnt last week of the unexpected death of Sir Graeme Douglas. Sir Graeme and Lady Ngaire have been one of the faculty’s most treasured friends and also personal friends to Tam and myself.

Without question, Sir Graeme was a man of superlatives – an outstanding humanitarian, a man who along with his enormous business acumen and success, was generous, humble and highly ethical. He was, (as I learnt at the funeral), a fine athlete in his day as well as a proud and dedicated father and grandfather.

His two sons Jeff and Richard have distinguished themselves - Jeff now heads Douglas Pharmaceuticals and Richard is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine and a distinguished head and neck (ORL) surgeon.  

In a tribute by Sir David Levene, Graeme’s oldest friend from school, we learned that his friends always referred to him as just “Doog”.

Sir Graeme has supported many aspects of the faculty through his Douglas Trust, and most recently a donation of $2 million to support a prestigious endowed senior research fellowship. Typical of his humility, he insisted it not be named after himself, so after some correspondence, we settled on the title of “Dean’s Fellowship”. My hope is that now with his passing, this fellowship will always recognise Sir Graeme and his generous support of the faculty and the University.

He was a frequent attender at functions and he never missed an opportunity to show his personal interest in many different activities. I will miss him very much. The faculty offers its sincerest condolences to Lady Ngaire and the Douglas family.


Best wishes,

John Fraser, PhD, FRSNZ
Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
The University of Auckland


Gluckman medal to leader in clinical teaching and research

Image of Professor Andrew Hill
Professor Andrew Hill

Congratulations to internationally recognised surgeon and perioperative care specialist, Professor Andrew Hill, who is this year’s recipient of the Gluckman Medal for his outstanding contributions to research, teaching/education and service.

Professor Hill has established an internationally recognised research group in perioperative care at Counties Manukau Health (CMH).  

He is the Head of the South Auckland Clinical Campus of the University of Auckland and during his six-year tenure, he has significantly increased the size and influence of this Campus.

Professor Hill has transformed its role from a teaching site to a significant research site,and he is working with CMH to build a research institute to enable the Counties Manukau District Health Board, in partnership with the University, to play a major role in clinical research.

He has supervised 20 post-graduate students and one of these, Dr Tarik Sammour, won a University of Auckland Best Doctoral Thesis Award in 2012. Professor Hill’s students have won more than 30 prizes or scholarships for their research regionally and internationally. He has also mentored seven Māori or Pacific junior doctors in research towards a PhD and for this work he was awarded the 2016 RACS Maori Medal.

Among many awards accorded, Professor Hill was awarded the 2014 University of Auckland Teaching Excellence Award for Research Supervision and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) premier research award, the John Mitchell Crouch Research Fellowship.

Professor Hill has more than 200 peer-reviewed papers with a focus on Medical Education and Perioperative Care. He also is a Reviewer for 30 journals including the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Medical Education, British Journal of Surgery and Annals of Surgery.  

In 2007 Professor Hill was awarded the Butland Award for Excellence in Medical Education Leadership, and in 2011, he was awarded a Doctor of Education from the University of Auckland for teaching junior doctors how to teach medical students.

Professor Hill also plays a key role in Australasian surgical research leadership as the immediate past chair of the RACS Board of Surgical Research, responsible for disbursing nearly $2 million in research funding, and he is the Head of the ANZ Surgical Research Society.

His service to surgical research includes as an elected RACS Councillor and chair of the Research, Audit and Academic Surgery committee.

At CMH, he also serves on the Clinical Heads Group and is the Clinical Lead for Research.

Professor Hill is an elected Councillor on the Executive Committee of the International Surgical Society, the oldest international surgical association in the world.

The official award of the Gluckman Medal to Professor Hill, followed by his lecture and a lunch, will be on Wednesday 23 November at 12 noon, in Lecture Theatre 505-007, at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, at 85 Park Road, in Grafton.



Prestigious award to SIDS researcher

Image of Associate Professor John Thompson (right) and Professor Roger Byard, (a pathologist from Adelaide) with their Distinguished Researcher awards at the conference in Uruguay.
Associate Professor John Thompson (right) and Professor Roger Byard, (a pathologist from Adelaide) with their Distinguished Researcher awards at the conference in Uruguay.

Congratulations to Associate Professor John Thompson from Paediatrics who was awarded a prestigious Distinguished Researcher Achievement Award at the recent International Society of Infant and Perinatal Death, in Uruguay.

The award was made for his outstanding contributions to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) research, in accordance with his international reputation in this field and publications over a number of years.

John is a statistician who has been involved in SIDS research since the late 1980s and the NZ Cot Death Study led by Professor Ed Mitchell, that led to the ‘back to sleep’ campaign.

Along with ongoing work on SIDS over the years in New Zealand, John was involved in a number of international collaborations and has recently led an individual pooled analysis of breastfeeding and SIDS, combining the data from most of the major case-control studies from around the world. He has also undertaken several meta-analyses of risk factors for SIDS.

“This award rightly recognises his international reputation in this field and multiple publications over many years, says Professor of Child Health, Ed Mitchell.

HealtheX celebrates 10th Anniversary


HealtheX is our annual student-led conference, which promotes research collaboration and excellence in presentation skills among postgraduate students.

This year’s HealtheX marked the 10th anniversary of supporting and developing emerging researchers in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The competition and award ceremony took place recently at Grafton.

HealtheX supports emerging scientists’ development by providing a platform in which to communicate their research to a wider audience. This is essential to the development of young researchers who must learn how to present their science in a way that engages the public opinion and secures ongoing funding.

Hosted by PhD candidates Yukti Vyas and Brittney Black from the Centre for Brain Research, and diligently organised by a committee of FMHS post-graduate students and the event feedback was unanimously positive.

This year, the Auckland Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) increased their contribution to prize-giving by awarding three travel grants to HealtheX winners.

Image of HealtheX winners: Front row: Hans Vellara, Amy Gamage, Grace Gong, Anusha Dravid, Madhavi Pandya Back row: Tessa Fuhrer, Elsie Jacobsen, Hei Tsun Tsang, Himanshu Wadhwa, Maximilian Joret
Front row: Hans Vellara, Amy Gamage, Grace Gong, Anusha Dravid, Madhavi Pandya Back row: Tessa Fuhrer, Elsie Jacobsen, Hei Tsun Tsang, Himanshu Wadhwa, Maximilian Joret

The winners and runner-up’s of HealtheX 2016 per category were as follows:

Doctoral Oral Category

Oral Non Doctoral Category

  • Best Non-Doctoral Oral Presentation Award: Hei Tsun Tsang
  • First Runner Up Non-Doctoral Oral Presentation: Tessa Fuhrer
  • Second Runner Up Non-Doctoral Oral Presentation: Himanshu Wadhwa

Poster Category

  • AMRF Best Poster Presentation Award: Maximilian Joret
  • First Runner Up Poster Presentation: Wojciech Ambroziak
  • Second Runner Up Poster Presentation: Madhavi Pandya

Elevator Pitch Category

  • MPPT Best Elevator Pitch Presentation Award: Amy Gamage
  • FMHS Postdoc Society First Runner Up Elevator Pitch Presentation: Anusha Dravid
  • FMHS PGSA Second Runner Up Elevator Pitch Presentation: Elsie Jacobson


The prize-giving was attended by our Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon and our Deputy Vice Chancellor Research Professor James Metson, among other distinguished academics.

The HealtheX committee wishes to thank the sponsors of this year’s event: Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust, FMHS Postdoc Society and FMHS Postgraduate Students Associations. These generous contributions are shaping the future of scientific research in New Zealand.

Check out our Facebook page for more HealtheX photos.


Postgraduate Information Evening a big success


Our Grafton campus was lively with a high level of buzz at our annual Postgraduate Information Evening held this Wednesday 14 September.

The Faculty showcased its many hubs with strong representation from Schools at booths dedicated to specific programmes.

This day is critically important to our Faculty recruitment initiatives, as we have fostered a very strong research culture and are hosts to a number of internationally renowned and highly regarded research programmes.

We have a history of attracting eminent researchers, talented students and high levels of research funding.

A strong culture of collaboration exists at all levels through the faculty, allowing vital links across faculty, between faculties and with other tertiary research institutions.

Postgraduate students are a significant part of the research drive and outputs of the Faculty and of the wider University.

I’d like to thank all the staff involved in organising such an integral event and making it such a huge success.  


Save the date- Faculty BBQ coming up

With the end of 2016 drawing close, we’d like to thank all our faculty staff members with our traditional festive celebration here at Grafton campus.

This year, we have scheduled the Faculty BBQ lunch for Wednesday 14 December.

This event is a wonderful opportunity for all our staff members to celebrate Christmas and the festive season together, joined by their shared purpose and teamwork.

Last year, the atrium was crowded with many familiar faces from both our Grafton and Tāmaki Innovation campus with great food, giant games and bean bags.

This is a highly anticipated event and I look forward to ending this year in a special way.

See below our highlights from last year.

fmhs bbq 1
High-Res (48 of 105)
High-Res (43 of 105)
fmhs bbq 5