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Issue 416 |20 December 2016 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

Tēnā kotou katoa. Welcome to the last Dean’s Diary of 2016 – it seems like only yesterday that we wrote the very first Diary for this year and if you are like me, the years seem to fly by faster than ever.  

It has been a very busy year and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to a relaxing break with family and friends. 

This is the largest Dean’s Diary ever and a great finish to the year with a wealth of interesting stories.  

My personal thanks to Natalia and the Communications and Marketing team for managing the Dean’s Diary throughout the year.
There is a perception in some quarters that the Tāmaki campus is closing next year. Rest assured this is not the case. There are some areas that will be handed over to the new owners, but these have already been vacated. The School of Population Health and the Tāmaki clinics will remain fully active throughout 2017.
As you will have seen in a recent communication the Vice-Chancellor has appointed me to another five-year term as Dean and I would like to thank all those who have offered their support over the last five years. 

The greatest pleasure I get from being Dean is the opportunity to work with so many outstanding committed people across the wide spectrum of activities and interests that is the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.
The University closes in just two days, so it is left only for me to wish everyone the warmest Christmas and New Year holiday break. Stay safe, relax and enjoy the very best of what summer in Aotearoa has to offer. I look forward to seeing you all in 2017.
Ngā manaakitanga. Ka kite anō.

Best wishes,

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


New Zealand’s first cancer trials research centre

Grafton campus

An anonymous benefactor has funded Auckland’s first Phase One Clinical Trials Research Unit.

The Unit, to be based at Auckland City Hospital, is a joint initiative between the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and the Auckland District Health Board’s (ADHB) Regional Cancer and Blood Service.

Oncology clinicians and researchers will carry out Phase One clinical trials of new cancer drugs in the first stage of human testing.

This is a significant and generous donation to establish a unit intended to improve outcomes for cancer patients in New Zealand, enabling greater access to new treatments through clinical trials.

The unit is one of the first major projects in the Auckland Academic Health Alliance (AAHA) collaboration towards setting up the Integrated Cancer Centre.

Read more


Supreme Award to mental health advocate 

Image of Debra Lampshire at the annual Attitude Awards

Congratulations to Debra Lampshire for receiving the Supreme Award at the annual Attitude Awards this year.

Debra is a mental health advocate and professional teaching fellow from the School of Nursing.

Attitude is a Trust that promotes and supports disability awareness and creating change in the way that people think about disability. 

Debra not only won the ‘Making A Difference’ award at the awards evening earlier this month, but was also presented with the Supreme Award for her huge contribution to mental health awareness.

Debra holds two positions, working part-time in the School of Nursing as a senior tutor and researcher, and part-time for the Auckland District Health Board as a project manager leading the development of psychological strategies for the enduring mental health project – the first non-clinician to do this. 

She empowers people experiencing mental health issues to shape their own recovery.   

Debra has applied her 30 years of the lived experience of mental illness and recovery with the shared experiences of her clients into a wealth of knowledge and teaching that is collaborative, interactive and empowering. 

She is a prominent leader and mentor to others within the mental health service-user and clinical movement in New Zealand, an internationally recognised academic and speaker, a well know trainer, educator and advocate within national and international mental health services.

Read Debra’s story



Paediatric award to doctoral candidate

Image of Dr Jin Russell
Dr Jin Russell

Congratulations to Dr Jin Russell who received the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) 2016 New Zealand Paediatric Trainee Research Award for Excellence.

The award was presented at the Paediatric Society of New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting held in Tauranga last month.

The regional Trainee Research Award prizes include travel and accommodation expenses and the opportunity to present their research at the RACP Congress in Melbourne in May 2017.

The competition is held annually to select Australian State, Territory and New Zealand representatives to present their research at the RACP Congress the following year.

Jin’s award-winning presentation was entitled "Cumulative socioeconomic disadvantage increases the risk of multi-morbidity in early childhood".

Jin is an Advanced Trainee in general paediatrics and community child health with the RACP.

After graduating MBChB from the University of Auckland in 2007 she spent several years working as a paediatric registrar in the Auckland and Bay of Plenty regions. She is completing a PhD in paediatrics at the Centre for Longitudinal Research, based at Tāmaki Campus.

Read about Dr Jin’s research


Project team wins Excellence in Research award

From left: Professor Cindy Farquhar, Associate Professor John Thompson, Dr Michelle Wise and Dr Premjit Gill
From left: Professor Cindy Farquhar, Associate Professor John Thompson, Dr Michelle Wise and Dr Premjit Gill

Congratulations to Dr Michelle Wise and her team; Dr Premjit Gill, Sarah Lensen, Associate Professor John Thompson and Professor Cindy Farqhar who received the 2016 Health Excellence Award (HEX) for Excellence in Research.

The Auckland District Health Board HEX awards are open to everyone who provides services for or on behalf of the Auckland DHB.

This prestigious award recognises research that makes a significant difference to the health and experience of patients and community since 2011.

Dr Michelle Wise and her team’s main focus of their study was to evaluate the effect of body mass (BMI) on the risk of endometrial hyperplasia or cancer.

The study found that women with a BMI of 30kg/m2 or more were four times more likely to develop complex hyperplasia or cancer.

It was found that obesity was a major risk factor in women with abnormal uterine bleeding.

Read more about their study



Fellowship study to improve nutrition information to GPs

Image of Dr Jennifer Crowley
Dr Jennifer Crowley

Improving the quality of nutrition information available to general practitioners for their patients, is the focus of a study, funded by a new research fellowship.

Congratulations to Dr Jennifer Crowley from the Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics at the Faculty who was awarded the first Sir John Logan Campbell Medical Fellowship, this week.

Dr Crowley will attend the Need for Nutrition Education/Innovation Programme (NNEdPro) International Summit in Cambridge, England in June 2017, that features key world experts in GP nutrition education.

As nutrition knowledge is constantly evolving, Dr Crowley will stay in Cambridge for three months to investigate several aspects of nutrition education for GPs and will look at practical ways to support and reinforce New Zealand GPs to provide nutrition care to patients when appropriate.

Read more


Ako Aotearoa STEM award to MAPAS student

Image of From left: James Penfold, former Prime Minister John Key and Ako Aotearoa Director Dr Stanley Frielick
From left: James Penfold, former Prime Minister John Key and Ako Aotearoa Director Dr Stanley Frielick

Congratulations to James Penfold for receiving the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Award.

The award was presented by Ako Aotearoa Director Dr Stanley Frielick at the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards 2016, held at Parliament earlier this month.

The intention of the award is that James will participate in a range of activities facilitated through Ako Aotearoa’s Northern Regional Hub to inspire and encourage Pacific youth to pursue STEM-related learning opportunities.

James is a top performing second-year medical student here at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. He gained entrance into medical school as part of the Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme at the University of Auckland.

James is actively involved in tutoring fellow Māori and Pacific students and is also part of the Tuākana tutoring staff.

His future aspirations are to work with organisations that address Pacific and Māori community issues, such as nutrition and re-employment after incarceration.

James is working with colleagues on an initiative to address the barriers to Hauora, involving mala’e and marae to determine how best to provide services in an accessible, acceptable and appropriate manner.

Read more about James' aspirations



Re-appointment of Professor Alan Merry to Head of School of Medicine

Image of Professor Alan Merry
Professor Alan Merry

It is with great pleasure that I announce that Professor Alan Merry has been offered and has accepted a second five-year term as Head of the School of Medicine

His current term ends in January of 2017. Alan has been an outstanding Head of School and has shown strong leadership and sound management, while maintaining a number of other high profile demanding activities.

He received very strong support from all those with whom I consulted. I am personally delighted that Alan will be at the helm of the School of Medicine for another five years. I am sure you will all join me in congratulating Alan.



Farewell to Emeritus Professor Bryan Parry

Bryan Perry Retirement
Festschrift to recognise Emeritus Professor Bryan Parry

Last Friday a Festschrift was held in the Department of Surgery to recognise the immense contribution that Emeritus Professor Bryan Parry has made to academic surgery over the last 30 years.

International speakers, Professor Erik Heineman (the Netherlands), Professor James Church (USA) and eminent New Zealanders, Professor John McCall, Associate Professor Greg O’Grady, Mr John Keating and Dr Alexandra MacMillan all presented papers outlining developments in their individual academic fields.

The afternoon concluded with a presentation from the Department of Surgery in the University and the DHB to Professor Parry and his reply.

I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Bryan all the best for his future endeavours.



International neuroscientists host research panel discussion

CBR panel 2
CBR panel

Five world-renowned neuroscientists came together to talk about their work in unravelling the mysteries of the human brain and shaping a path to a much brighter future for people and families touched by neurological disorders, at a panel discussion last month.

Entitled ’International Frontier: Advances in Brain Research and Treatments’, the discussion featured members of the Centre for Brain Research’s Scientific Advisory Board:

  • Professor Christopher Shaw; Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics at the Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, King’s College.
  • Professor Anne Young: Distinguished Julieanne Dorn Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.
  • Professor Perry Bartlett; Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland.
  • Professor Hanns Möhler; Distinguished Professor at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Zurich.
  • Professor Richard Faull, Director of the CBR and Distinguished Professor of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

The panel discussion was as diverse as it was engaging, as attendees listened to expertise in areas such as Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, pharmacological treatments for brain disease, Brain Stem Cell research and Alzheimer’s disease.

The public event was co-hosted by the Neurological Foundation and supported by the Freemasons Foundation.



Local and international school students learn about the brain

December was an extremely busy month for the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) with visits from three student groups; Green Bay High School, Onewhero High School and the Zetizen Group (an Indonesian delegation of students and journalists).

The Medical Sciences Learning Centre was the perfect backdrop for the students to learn about the brain and how it integrates with the rest of the body, in a series of highly engaging and interactive presentations.

Onewhero High School teacher, Cam Cameron was very enthusiastic about their visit and said that the students were impressed and a little overwhelmed with the experience. Thanks to our passionate presenters and the work that they do.

This a fantastic opportunity for our young people to see the tangible outcomes of pursuing studies in science.

The sessions were kept diverse and exciting by the contributions of scientists from other faculties across the University.

We would like to thank and acknowledge the contributions of the following FMHS students and academic staff:

  • Research Fellow Dr Joanne Davidson (Fetal Physiology Lab)
  • Research Fellow, Dr Simon O’Carroll, Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Facility (SCIRF)
  • Doctoral candidate Jarred Griffin from SCIRFDr Thomas Park, from the Human Neurodegeneration Lab
  • Research Fellow, Dr Brigid Ryan, from the Human Brain Plasticity and Neurodegenerative Diseases Group
  • Doctoral candidate Rebecca Grass from the Neuro-psychopharmacology Group

See our highlights below.


Indonesian group

Ending 2016 with a festive summer-themed staff party

On Wednesday 14 December, we hosted our faculty's annual staff party here at the Grafton campus.

It was wonderful to have so many of our staff from both our Grafton and Tāmaki Innovation Campuses come together to celebrate our achievements for 2016.

The Grafton Campus quad was crowded with familiar faces, great food and provided a wonderful opportunity to socialise with members from all Departments and Schools.

Despite the overcast day the rain stayed away for the beach-themed event, packed with giant games, bean-bags and a surprise soft-serve dessert station.

Thank you to our staff and suppliers, who worked so hard to deliver the event for your enjoyment.

See some of our highlights below. Click on the images to view our Faculty Staff Party gallery.

Faculty Staff party 5
Faculty staff party 4
Faculty Staff Party 2
Faculty Staff party 3

Next edition of the Dean’s Diary

In closing, our last edition of the Dean's Diary for the year, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a cheerful and safe summer.

Look out for the first 2017 edition of the Diary on Friday 17 February.

See you in the New Year!

Enjoy our highlights we've had this year.

Click on the images to view our gallery of Faculty events.

Peter Gilling
Pharmacy Class Photo1
Gluckman Award 1