Plastic surgeon receives oncology award

25 November 2015
Image of Celebrating the Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation’s Ross Craig Oncology Award are from left, Professor Cris Print, Jon Mathy and Brian McMath.
Celebrating the Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation’s Ross Craig Oncology Award are from left, Professor Cris Print, Jon Mathy and Brian McMath.

A top US trained plastic surgeon working at Middlemore Hospital, Jon Mathy, is this year’s Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation’s Ross Craig Oncology Award recipient.

The aim of the award is to give clinicians who work with cancer patients the opportunity to collaborate for a short intense period with University researchers.

In particular this allows clinicians to learn about the technically complex science of cancer genetics.

This involvement in research prepares clinicians for the research-led environment in which they will practice and builds long term links between Auckland’s clinicians and medical scientists.

The award is named after the late Ross Craig, a founding trustee of the Foundation and a Past Rotary District Governor and a member of the Rotary club of Newmarket for 47 years.

Dr Mathy is a Stanford and Harvard trained plastic surgeon who has been practicing in New Zealand since 2009. He has particular clinical and academic interests in state-of-the-art multidisciplinary cancer care, and works at Middlemore Hospital and the New Zealand Melanoma Unit, that is passionate about advancing optimal melanoma outcomes through multidisciplinary care and translational research.

The work he will undertake is a collaboration with the Maurice Wilkins Centre and Jon’s wife, Joanna Mathy who is a cancer biology PhD student, supervised by Professor Rod Dunbar in the School of Biological Sciences.

“Tumours are complex tissues comprised of several cell types, including tumour cells, immune cells and tissue cells,” says Dr Mathy. “These cells can play distinct roles that co-ordinate, establish and support tumour cell growth. It is important to gain a better understanding of the functions each of these cells plays within the tumour in order to develop better anti-cancer therapies.”

“The Ross Craig Oncology award has given me the unique opportunity to work directly alongside talented basic scientists applying cutting edge methodologies such as laser capture micro-dissection and next-generation RNA sequencing to study these tumour micro-environments,” he says.

“I am extremely grateful to the Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation, the University, and particularly Professor Cris Print for taking me into his lab and fostering the skills and relationships that will allow me to support meaningful translational research opportunities for my patients.”

The award scheme was started by the Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation and Professors Cristin Print and Michael Findlay and has now been running for five years.

Brian McMath Chair of the Foundation says, ”it has been a wonderful partnership between the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and we continue to be impressed by the quality of the recipients.”

“It is encouraging to know that our award has led to clinicians pursuing a research career and the award has been the seed for further research grants,” says Mr McMath. “The Foundation has been assisted with funding by the Chenery Memorial and June Gray Charitable Trusts, so it is a great example of collaborative funding in the fight against cancer”.

“Jon is an outstanding young man and our trustees are delighted that he was chosen as this year’s awardee. New Zealand is very fortunate that Jon has chosen this country as home”, he says


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