Deans diary header
Issue 418|3 March 2017 | Previous Issues

A personal message from the Dean

This week is orientation week and the faculty has a large cohort of students enrolled across all our programmes. I’m not sure who to thank for the fine weather, but it was greatly appreciated.

Undergraduate enrolments are 80 EFTS up from this time last year and our taught postgraduate programme have 37 additional EFTS from 2016. 

Research postgraduate numbers are the same as last year. This is a great result, and against the downward trend that was expected with the decline in secondary school student numbers. Formal teaching begins in earnest next week and I wish everyone well with the start of their courses.

Earlier this week I attended a Go8 Medical Dean’s meeting where issues of the Australian medical workforce development were discussed. 

With yet another medical school being considered to the 18 that already exist, there is mounting concern about the potential for oversupply of medical graduates in Australia. 

The impact for New Zealand is obvious and we will be expecting an increase in Australian graduates looking for New Zealand jobs, particularly NZ citizens who trained in an Australian programme. 


Best wishes,

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


Helping advance treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Image of Associate Professor Maurice Curtis
Associate Professor Maurice Curtis

Congratulations to Associate Professor Maurice Curtis and his team for providing the first strong evidence on how Parkinson’s disease spreads in the brain.

Professor Curtis is from the Centre of Brain Research and leads the centre’s research on Parkinson’s disease.

In a paper published in in Scientific Reports – Nature, the study revealed that pathological proteins (known as Lewy bodies) in Parkinson’s disease could be spread from cell to cell. These findings will help to advance treatment of the disease.

This significant breakthrough was funded by Neuro Research Charitable Trust founded by Bernie and Kaye Crosby who not only raised funds, but have been strong advocates for Parkinson’s disease research in New Zealand.

Read how this helps advance treatment of the disease.


Our very own Innovator of the Year

Professor Edward Gane
Professor Edward Gane

In continuing with our succession of great achievements, another big congratulations goes out to our academic Professor Ed Gane, world renowned hepatologist, who was named the Sanitarium Innovator of the Year at the 2017 New Zealander of the Year Awards.

Professor Ed Gane was honoured for his innovative contributions to the development of a cure for Hepatitis C. He is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Auckland and Deputy Director and Hepatologist of the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit at Auckland City Hospital.

For a number of years, Dr Gane supervised meticulous drug trials on Kiwi volunteers with chronic Hepatitis C. He trialled various combinations of different antivirals until he finally got the results he was looking for.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon spoke at the awards ceremony on Wednesday 22 February, congratulating the winners, and saying the University was extremely proud to be associated with these outstanding New Zealanders.

He also mentioned that Professor Gane’s achievements are of global significance and demonstrate the valuable contribution innovation and research can have on improving people’s lives.

Read more about Hepatitis C treatment research


Professor WHO

Image of Professor Innes Asher
Professor Innes Asher

It is exciting to see our people shining in the international arena. 

Congratulations to Professor Innes Asher, recently appointed as a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert for Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRD), forming part of the panel on non-communicable diseases (NCD).

The new WHO panel arose out of the United Nations Summit on NCDs in New York in September 2011, which Professor Asher attended and also where she launched the Global Asthma Report. That was the first, and only, UN Summit on NCDs.

Read about Professor Innes Asher’s achievement.


Keith Williamson Medal for Microscopy research

Image of Jessy Kong - Winner of Keith Williamson Medal
Jessy Kong - Winner of Keith Williamson Medal

Congratulations to Jessy Kong who was recently awarded the Keith Williamson Medal for Excellence in Microscopy Research at Microscopy2017. Jessy is a PhD student from the Department of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences. Her PhD supervisors are Professor Paul Donaldson, Dr Kevin Webb and Dr Ehsan Vaghefi.

Microscopy2017, is the New Zealand Conference on Microscopy, held in Auckland from 31 January -3 February, with this year being the 28th conference.

The judging panel for this award included four international speakers and representatives from Microscopy New Zealand Inc., who unanimously agreed that Jessy’s oral presentation entitled “New live-cell microscopy and tissue sectioning techniques to allow the study of dynamic changes of lens fibre cells in whole bovine lenses” was outstanding. 

The panel also agreed that her research into innovative ways to image the bovine lens met the criteria for innovation in microscopy.

Thomson Scientific Instruments generously sponsor the Keith Williamson Medal and the $500 cash prize awarded to Jessy.

Looking forward to more student achievements.

Ophthalmology and Vision Research Prize Evening

Ophthalmology evening

The annual Excellence in Ophthalmology and Vision Research Prize Evening was held on Monday, 13 February 2017.

I was delighted to see such a great turnout including senior staff from the School of Medicine and our faculty, along with donors, benefactors, friends and family members of the prize winners. 

Eleven summer students were awarded certificates throughout the evening. Also presented was the prestigious Calvin Ring Undergraduate Prize for best all-round undergraduate student in clinical ophthalmology and the Arthur Thomas Paterson Postgraduate Scholarship, which supports a vocational trainee in Ophthalmology to pursue a fellowship overseas.

Awards presented and winners honoured at the event were:

Summer Students for 2016:

Lize Angelo, William Cook, Darina Khun, Ji Soo Kim, Charisse Kuo, Ye Li, Sunny Li, Joevy Lim, Micah Rapata, Michael Wang, Kennu Wu

  • William MacKenzie Medal – Jeremy John Mathan
  • Arthur Thomas Paterson Scholarship – Dr Divya Perumal
  • Calvin Ring Undergraduate Prize in Ophthalmology – Dr Charlotte Jordan



Brain health abuzz in Hawkes Bay

Image of Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull
Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull

It was encouraging to see our Brain Health Team attending the Te Matatini Kapa Haka festival in Hawkes Bay where crowds of 50,000+ were expected.

Our very own eminent neuroscientist, Distinguished Professor Sir Richard Faull was on the ground, talking about brain health with festival-goers. He was joined by Māori researchers and clinicians from Rangahau Roro Aotearoa -Brain Research NZ, including stroke expert, Professor Alan Barber with Dr Hinemoa Elder and Dr Margaret Dudley.

Their presence at the festival was also to raise awareness about the importance of brain research among the Māori community.

The team were also providing free blood pressure checks to festival-goers along with brain health giveaways in both Te Reo and English.

Read more about Brain Research New Zealand and it’s accomplishments


A fond farewell

I was delighted to attend the retirement of Associate Professor Judy Kilpatrick at the Northern Club, which proved to be a wonderful location for such an occasion.

The event was well-attended by senior leaders from academia and the health sector, who gathered to bid Judy a farewell after her 17 years as the Head of School of Nursing at the University of Auckland.

It was pleasing to hear a common theme throughout the speeches, highlighting Judy’s steadfast determination to establish a school of nursing which came to fruition in 2000 and grew under her leadership to be ranked 32nd in the world in 2016.

The speakers also paid tribute to the extraordinary contribution Judy made to nursing education and the profession as a whole in New Zealand, and that she achieved all this with style, character and an exceptional sense of humour.

It was evident throughout the night’s proceedings that Judy is held in the highest regard for her contributions to nursing and nursing education .  She will be greatly missed by us all.


Orientation – A great occasion

FMHS Helium balloon banner

Orientation week (commonly known as ‘O Week’) is always a wonderful time at our Grafton campus, which becomes a hub of activity and buzz with our new undergraduate students. Our faculty activities began on Monday 27 February through to our main Orientation Day on 3 March.

As Dean, I look forward to welcoming and meeting our new students, each eager to start their journey here with us.

Both are Tāmaki and Grafton campuses presented a pōwhiri to welcome our new students to start their first university experience.

Our faculty is a welcoming and friendly place for students and I encourage you to keep an eye out for students who look lost or are in need of your assistance making their way around our wonderful facility. 



Proud to be part of Pride

It was our privellege to once again attend the Pride Parade, held on Sunday 25 February.

The Pride Parade is an annual event that celebrates and supports the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community which is something our University strongly believes in.

More than 50 floats took part in this event and this year the University’s walking float was bigger than ever, uniting our students and staff along with their families and friends.

The vibrant, fun-filled event drew large crowds with everyone cheering their way from Three Lamps to Karangahape Road.

This event cements our values as a University and our commitment to being a safe, inclusive and equitable place to work and study.


Superfino now open


Last week, Superfino opened its doors at our Grafton Campus.

The new café looks great and I hope you are all enjoying the fresh, modern ambience on offer. 

Superfino is a well-established Wellington operation and we are delighted to host its very first café in Auckland.

As well as coffee, they provide a range of food from menu items to cabinet sandwiches, sushi and wholesome salads. Don’t forget to download the Superfino App to receive ten percent off all coffee.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday 7.30am to 6pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm.


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