Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Centre for Addiction Research - members

The Centre for Addiction Research brings together an exceptional community of addiction researchers from across each School in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences: 

Academic staff

Peter Adams trained initially as a clinical psychologist and practiced in hospital, community and private practice settings for over 13 years. Through his practice he developed specialist expertise in addictive behaviour, violence and public health interventions for dangerous consumptions. 
Peter is Deputy Head of the School of Population Health and Associate Director of the Centre for Addiction Research. He established the University's Centre for Gambling Studies in 2001, and this is now incorporated into the Centre for Addiction Research. His current research interests include: family impacts of addictions, brief interventions, recovery processes and public health approaches to gambling.

Shanthi Ameratunga is Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Population Health. A paediatrician and public health physician by background, Shanthi leads a multi-disciplinary research program focusing on trauma outcomes, injury prevention and disability, with a particular interest in issues relating to young people. She is the principal investigator of the YourCall trial, a randomised control trial investigating the effectiveness of a text-based intervention to reduce problem drinking among people admitted to trauma centres. Other projects she has directed include the Traffic Related Injury in the Pacific (TRIP) project, a collaboration with the Fiji School of Medicine funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Council of New Zealand, and several projects examining causes and outcomes of injuries. 

Jo Barnes is Associate Professor in Herbal Medicines at the School of Pharmacy. She previously held teaching and research positions at the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, University of London, UK, and the Department of Complementary Medicine, University of Exeter, UK. Jo’s research interests broadly include the utilisation, quality, efficacy and safety of natural health products (complementary /alternative medicines), particularly herbal and other traditional medicines. She has specific interests in pharmacovigilance of herbal medicines, in developing novel or modified methods to monitor the safety of natural health products, and in natural health products used in smoking cessation.
Jo is an honorary consultant to the WHO Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring and is a member of its herbal safety signal review panel. She is an Associate Editor ofPhytochemistry Letters, and on the editorial boards of Drug Safety, International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, and Phytotherapy Research

Chris Bullen is a medically-trained public health medicine specialist and Director of the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) at the University of Auckland. His research interests focus primarily on tobacco control and innovative smoking cessation interventions research. With Prof Marewa Glover (now of Massey University), he co-directed the Tobacco Control Research Turanga, a national programme of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research to inform rapid smoking prevalence reduction. He is a co-author of the latest Cochrane review of nicotine replacement therapy and e-cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction. Chris led the first international trial investigating the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation and is currently researching innovative ways to help people accessing mental health and addiction services to quit smoking.

Joanna is a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI). Joanna has a background in psychology. Her research interests lie in the health and well-being of adolescents, particularly in areas of prevention and intervention. She has gained extensive experience as a Post-doctoral research fellow at the School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, working on a number of community-based research projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of families in Hong Kong (e.g., conducting randomised controlled-trials, assessing needs of community stakeholders, evaluating brief community interventions, and designing household surveys examining health and information seeking behaviours). Joanna is keen to further her research in areas that promotes adolescent well-being and work with communities to translate evidence into real-world practice.

Louise Curley is a pharmacist and Lecturer in Pharmacy practice at the School of Pharmacy. Louise’s area of research focuses on the effects of recreational drug use in humans. She began her research as an undergraduate by investigating the subjective and electrophysiological effects of the Party Pill drugs BZP using electroencephalography (EEG) and graduated with a PhD in pharmacy in 2012. Her thesis investigated the effects of the main constituents of “Party Pills” benzylpiperazine (BZP) and trifluromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP) on executive functioning and reward using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Currently, her focus is developing new fMRI paradigms to investigate different aspects of risk, specifically by comparing populations of dependent versus non-dependent participants.

Dr Grant Christie, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, is a Child and Adolescent and Addiction Psychiatrist who has been working in outpatient and residential youth addiction services in NZ and Australia for over 15 years. He is passionate about improving the treatment of young people at risk of addiction and enhancing the management of co-existing problems (CEP) in mental health services and primary care. He has developed a number of youth addiction treatment resources that are used widely in NZ and further afield, and has acted in various advisory roles for the MOH in this area. Principal investigator in the design and testing of the Substances and Choices Scale (SACS), a youth AOD screening and outcome measurement instrument (available on www.sacsinfo.com), Grant has developed brief intervention training packages for primary and secondary health services and is expanding this work to look at youth addiction treatment via internet and app based modalities. 

Dr Dan Exeter is a Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at the University of Auckland. He is a quantitative health geographer and has a background in Geographical Information Systems and spatial analysis. Using large datasets such as the census or routine health databases, his research aims to identify, and provide solutions to inequalities in health.

He is currently leading research to deliver a new measure of neighbourhood disadvantage in NZ, and was recently awarded Marsden funding to conceptualise socioeconomic position among the elderly population. He is a co-investigator on the HRC-VIEW programme of vascular risk research, where he leads the mapping component.

Susanna Galea

Dr Susanna Galea-Singer
Associate Director, CFAR; Director, Specialist Mental Health & Addiction Services, Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland
                Phone: + 64 (0) 9 845 1818

Susanna Galea-Singer is a clinical lead for Specialist Mental Health and Addiction Services in Auckland - the largest drug and alcohol services in New Zealand. She is also an Associate Director at the Centre for Addiction Research and an honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, teaching in the alcohol and drug postgraduate programmes, and supervising postgraduate student research. Susanna's main research interests are in outcome measurement in addiction; multi-morbidities related to addiction; alcohol related harm and use of substances in high-risk populations.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith is both an academic and practising general practitioner with a particular interest in the detection and management of risky lifestyle behaviours, including use of nicotine, alcohol, recreational drugs and gambling, and mental health issues in primary health care. Professor Goodyear-Smith is the Academic Head of the Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland and also holds the Goodfellow Postgraduate Chair.

Karen Hicks is a Professional Teaching Fellow facilitating the drug and alcohol teaching within the medical school. With a background in nursing, community development and health promotion she has a particular interest in prevention strategies. Karen is also passionate about improving the treatment of marginalised people at risk or with addictions and consequently developing a competent health workforce that can effectively engage with this community

Maree Jensen is Academic Director and Postgraduate Advisor at the School of Pharmacy; she also teaches at the School. With a 25 year career in community pharmacy, Maree maintains close links with community pharmacists throughout New Zealand and is a Board member of the Pharmacy Guild. Maree was involved in setting up New Zealand's first needle exchange and she sits on the Ministry of Health's Stakeholders Committee for needle exchange. Her research interests include methadone and methamphetamine use, needle exchange and harm reduction strategies in disenfranchised populations such as the drug injecting and sex worker communities.

Bridget Kool is an injury epidemiologist in the School of Population Health with an interest in the role alcohol and other substances play in injuries. She has been involved in research to assess the effectiveness of mobile phone based interventions to address binge drinking behaviours, a study examining risk factors (including alcohol and recreational drug use) for unintentional injuries at home and a study of unintentional falls at home (working-age population) – exploring the role of alcohol. 

Judith McCool is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Population Health where she teaches on the Master of Public Health programme in global health. She also leads the School’s Global Health Group. 
Judith’s research interests include: global health, tobacco control, mass media, and social determinants of health. She has been a co- investigator on several tobacco control research projects, including: progressing tobacco control in Niue; appraisals of graphic health warnings on cigarettes packs, strategies to reduce smoking uptake and second-hand smoke exposure of N.Z. children; ‘Keeping Kids Smokefree’, a community intervention to reduce smoking among young people; as well as The NZ Youth Tobacco Monitor, a national cross-sectional study of youth smoking.

Claire Meehan

Dr Claire Meehan
Email: c.meehan@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9636

Claire Meehan is a researcher and criminology lecturer at the University of Auckland, and she is currently working with researchers at the Centre for Mental Health research. Her research interests lie in young people’s drug use; how the media portray and engage with drugs, especially ‘legal highs’/ novel psychoactive substances; harm reduction; drug education; and the use of the Internet and Social Media/ Networking Sites as a tool for drug information, sale and virtual peer groups. Her PhD was an investigation into school-based drug education and harm reduction in Northern Ireland. Claire is also interested in the procedures schools have in place to safeguard the wellbeing of their pupils; direct-to-consumer advertising of antipsychotic medication in New Zealand’s mainstream media; and she has recently finishing working on a project investigating the Problem Solving Courts (including the Alcohol and Other Drug Court) in New Zealand.

Suresh Muthukumarswamy is a senior research fellow jointly appointed with the School of Pharmacy and School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science and is funded in by a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.
Suresh’s research interests are in using brain imaging techniques (MEG/MRI/EEG) to measure the effects of drugs on the brain and behaviour. He has conducted brain imaging investigations of a number of recreational drugs including ketamine, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and LSD.

David Newcombe

Dr David Newcombe
Senior Lecturer
Email: d.newcombe@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 6557

Dr David Newcombe is Academic Director of postgraduate addiction programmes and an Associate Director of the Centre for Addiction Research. 
He has been working in the addiction sector for over 17 years in various clinical and research roles both in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to moving to New Zealand, David was Senior Project Manager at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Research in the Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Problems at the University of Adelaide where he managed an international multisite evaluation of opioid pharmacotherapies for the treatment of opioid dependence and the Australian site of the validation of the WHO Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) study. His current research interests include: screening for problematic substance use and assessing the efficacy of brief interventions in different at risk groups; the clinical pharmacology and psychopharmacology of drugs of abuse; and clinical effectiveness of pharmacotherapies used to treat alcohol and drug problems.

Associate Professor Vili Nosa
Email: v.nosa@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 373 7599

Vili Nosa is a Senior Lecturer in Pacific Health at the School of Population Health. He specialises in Pacific health research with a focus on the hazardous use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other substances among Pacific people.
He has worked extensively in New Zealand and in the Pacific region with his research role in the Pacific Alcohol and Drugs Research Network (PDARN). 

Sanya Ram is a pharmacist and a lawyer with a keen interest in the regulation of medicines and therapeutic products, as well as the examination of how medicines are used or misused. A Senior Tutor in Pharmacy Law & Ethics at the School of Pharmacy, Sanya is also co-author of the Pharmacy Law Guidebook (2012), an essential reference for the study of the legislation that underpins the practice of pharmacy in New Zealand. 

Rodrigo Ramalho is a Professional Teaching Fellow in the Department of Social and Community Health at the University of Auckland. He previously held various teaching positions at universities in his country of origin, Paraguay. Trained as a psychiatrist, he has worked in private practice, hospitals, and community settings. Through both his academic and professional career, he has focused on contributing to the development of a person-centred and socio-culturally meaningful approach to health care. Rodrigo is completing his PhD in the Department of Social and Community Health. His PhD research examines the individual and contextual processes involved in smoking cessation and becoming a non-smoker. His current research interests include mental health, dangerous consumptions, tobacco control, and the psycho-social aspects of illness and well-being.

Simone Rodda has a background in psychology with a PhD from the Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University, Australia. She holds honorary positions at Deakin University and also Turning Point (alcohol and drug centre) in Melbourne, Australia. Simone’s research is primarily focused on behaviour change involving brief and minimal interventions delivered via multiple modalities (i.e., online, telephone, text messaging). This work is informed by over 17 years work as a clinician, researcher and manager in the field of addictions across smoking, alcohol, illicit drug use and problem gambling. Simone Rodda has led multiple studies investigating online treatment for addictions including an evaluation of text messaging as an adjunct to online help and an evaluation of the online help-seeking needs of family members impacted by gambling. She is an Associate Regional Editor of International Gambling Studies.


Dr Fiona Rossen
Senior Research Fellow
Phone: +64 (0) 9 373 7999


Fiona Rossen has a background in psychology and is a senior researcher with the Adolescent Health Research Group (AHRG). She was Co-Director of the Centre for Gambling Studies (established in 2001) until it was incorporated into the Centre for Addiction Research in 2013.

Her primary research interestes are gambling, youth gambling, youth health, and the health and wellbeing of Asian peoples. Fiona's PhD investigated the gambling experiences of adolescents in New Zealand and in addition to quantifying the role of gambling in adolescent life, her researched focused upon the exploration of protective factors for gambling.


Rhys Ponton is a registered pharmacist in both New Zealand and the UK, and has an extensive history in the treatment of drug misuse, particularly the care of opioid users. His PhD research involved the characterisation of the processes that drug users in the UK use to prepare heroin and crack cocaine injections. These preparation techniques were then used to prepare injections in the laboratory to ascertain chemical, physical and microbiological risks of injecting these solutions. Since 2010 he has sat as the pharmacist representative on the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs in the UK.

His research interests include the pharmaceutics of drug misuse (the methods used to take drugs and the risks they pose), prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse, and worldwide drug policy.

Peter Saxton 2

Dr Peter Saxton
Senior Research Fellow
Email: p.saxton@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 9231434

Peter is Director of the Gay Men’s Sexual Health research group in the School of Population Health and the current New Zealand AIDS Foundation Fellow.
He leads an ongoing sexual behaviour research programme and epidemiological studies of HIV and STI infection, in collaboration with the University of Otago and NZAF. This programme investigates recreational drug use among gay and bisexual men with a view to monitoring change over time in this population and exploring disparities.
His interests include the relationship between drug and alcohol use and sexual health, sexual orientation data collection methods, and gay men’s health.

Janie Sheridan is Research Director and Deputy Head of the School of Pharmacy. She chaired the Addiction Research Network at the University of Auckland from 2004 and is the Director of the Centre for Addiction Research. She has been involved in research into substance misuse for over 21 years and is internationally recognised for her research into the role of community pharmacy in the provision of services to substance misusers. 
Her research has a particular focus on harm reduction and the role of primary care with respect to alcohol and drug use, and the development and evaluation of primary care interventions. 
Recent research includes: 'legal party pills' in New Zealand; treatment for methamphetamine addiction; and prescription drug misuse. She has also been involved in the development of a screening and outcomes tool for young people in relation to substance use.

Frederick Sundram

Dr Frederick Sundram
Senior Lecturer
Email: f.sundram@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 7521

Frederick Sundram is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland and a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at North Shore Hospital. He was a research fellow at the Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where he completed his PhD in Neuroimaging. He has also completed a Masters in Healthcare Management from the Institute of Public Administration, Dublin and also, a Masters in Healthcare Informatics. His research interests include neuroimaging, suicide, epilepsy, psychosis, medically unexplained physical symptoms, addiction, medical education and healthcare informatics.

Katy Thom

Dr Katy Thom
Senior Research Fellow
Email: k.thom@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9579

Katey Thom is a Senior Research Fellow located within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland. Before moving to Auckland, Katey studied sociology at the University of Canterbury, with her Masters research focusing on the use of ecstasy within the electronic dance music scene. Her PhD explored the role of forensic psychiatrists acting as expert witness in criminal trials, with a specific focus on trials involving the defence of insanity. Katey's current research has a strong focus on social justice issues in mental health and addictions, covering various aspects of mental health law, human rights and more recently therapeutic interventions for addictions and mental health across the criminal justice system. She is currently leading a Marsden and SRIF funded research involving ethnographic case studies of Te Whare Whakapiki Wairua/The Alcohol and Other Drug Court,  Te Kōti o Timatanga Hou/Court of New Beginnings and Te Kōti Rangatahi o Hoani Waititi and is Co-PI on a wider project focused on Ngā Kōti Rangatahi/Rangatahi Courts.

Malcom Tingle

Associate Professor Malcolm Tingle
Associate Professor
Email: m.tingle@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 4949

Malcolm Tingle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology in the School of Medical and Health Sciences. His research has focussed on the role of metabolism in toxicology and the development of in vitro and in vivo models to assess toxicity. In the field of addiction research, he has examined the pharmacokinetics of 'party-pill' constituents BZP & TFMPP and their potential for drug-drug intreactions.  He is jointly supervising a PhD student's research investigating the pharmacokinetics of cytisine, a natural smoking cessation product and attempting to relate pharmacokinetics to the pharmacodynamic effects of this drug.

Marjolein Verbiest

Dr Marjolein Verbiest
Research Fellow
Email: m.verbiest@auckland.ac.nz

My name is Marjolein Verbiest. I recently started as a Research Fellow within the National Institute for Health Innovation and I will be working on three new HRC funded smoking cessation trials. I grew up in the Netherlands where I also obtained my Master’s degree in Health Psychology (2010) and PhD in Public Health (2014). My doctorate research focused on the implementation of smoking cessation care in general practice. I examined the effect of training health professionals in delivering evidence-based smoking cessation care and I looked at the impact of national tobacco control policies on GPs’ guideline adherence and on smoking prevalence. I look forward sharing my experience with you, being involved in the exciting projects within NIHI and CFAR, and being able to contribute to a smokefree Aotearoa 2025!   

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Dr Natalie Walker
Programme Leader
Email: n.walker@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9884

Natalie Walker is an epidemiologist, leader of the Addiction Research programme at the National Institution for Health Innovation (NIHI), and Heart Foundation Douglas Senior Fellow in Heart Health (Prevention).
Natalie has over 17 years of experience in the design, conduct and analysis of epidemiological studies, with a particular focus on phase III clinical trials and systematic reviews. She has been the recipient of a Health Research Council Training Fellowship and a Heart Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. 
Her primary areas of interest include prevention of heart disease and the conduct of phase III community-based clinical trials, particularly in smoking cessation. She is a member of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, a Board member for Action on Health and Smoking (ASH), New Zealand, and a member of the New Zealand Tobacco Control Research Turanga: A national programme of research to inform rapid smoking prevalence reduction.

Ms Carina Walters
Doctoral Candidate – Doctor of Philosophy
Email: cj.walters@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9129

Carina Walters is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland studying prescription and over the counter opioid dependence.
She has previously held a role as a senior addictions pharmacist at Community Alcohol and Drug Services in Auckland, and is a part time professional teaching fellow with the School of Population Health, teaching a postgraduate addiction paper.
She has an interest in research in all areas of addiction, and has been an investigator in studies ranging from the treatment of amphetamine dependence to the potential role of community pharmacists in extending health services offered in conjunction with opioid substitution treatment.

Mrs Sam White

Mrs Sam White
Doctoral Candidate – Doctor of Philosophy
Email: s.white@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2823

Sam White is a Professional Teaching Fellow at the School of Population Health where she coordinates two postgraduate courses within the Postgraduate Certificate of Health Sciences Programme. Sam also currently works for Odyssey House as a Project Manager working with Counties Manukau AOD Service Providers to facilitate implementation of projects aligned with the CMDHB AOD Strategic Plan – in a nutshell, helping Counties Manukau providers deliver an improved service to those accessing AOD services in the region. Sam also has a consulting role to the CAMHAS service in Hauraki Coromandel (Waikato DHB) providing support for AOD clinicians working with adolescents and their whanau needing support to address AOD concerns. She has also held roles in Adult Mental Health and Addictions services. Sam is completing her Masters in Health Sciences with NIHI currently looking at whether the Children’s Emergency Department is a suitable place to offer opportunistic cessation support to stop smoking for NZ families.

AP Trecia Wouldes

Associate Professor Trecia Wouldes
Associate Professor
Email: t.wouldes@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 6221

Trecia Wouldes is a developmental psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine. Her main research and teaching interests are the development of infants at risk from prenatal drug exposure, and infant mental health. She completed the first systematic study in New Zealand on the effect of maternal methadone maintenance treatment on the physiological and psychological development of the fetus, the neonate and the infant. 
Trecia is a co-investigator on a longitudinal study at the University of Canterbury investigating the neurological outcomes of infants born to mothers who were receiving methadone maintenance treatment for opiate dependence during their pregnancy. She is also the Director of the Auckland site of the Infant, Development Environment And Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study investigating the development of children born to mothers who used methamphetamine (P, Pure, Ecstasy, BZP) during pregnancy, led by Drs LaGasse and Lester at the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Rhode Island.
She is currently involved in developing new research that will investigate early biological and behavioural markers of prenatal alcohol exposure.


Postgraduate research students (PhD)

Name School Supervisor(s) Research topic
Carina Walters

Professor Janie Sheridan

Pharmaceutical opioid misuse in New Zealand: Exploring experiences of individuals with non-illicit pathways to dependence

Michael Vacaru


Professor Janie Sheridan

A mixed methods exploration of problematic mobile phone use in New Zealand adolescents

Retina Rimal

Psychological Medicine

Dr Frederick Sundram

Social anxiety, electronic gaming machine play and decision-making ability

Annabel Prescott

Population Health

Associate Professor Peter Adams

Case studies of school drug policies and practice

Derek Quigley Population Health

Associate Professor Peter Adams

Family experiences of transitions from residential addiction treatment programmes

Rodrigo Romalho

Population Health

Associate Professor Peter Adams

Social dynamics of smoking cessation

Alison Schneller is looking at compulsory orders and including AOD ones:

Population Health

Associate Professor Peter Adams

Critical analysis of mechanisms used in compulsory community treatment orders

Wenli Zhang

Population Health Associate Professor Peter Adams

Chinese experiences of problem gambling and recovery

Iris Wainiqolo 

Population Health Professor Shanthi Ameratunga
Dr Bridget Kool
Road traffic injuries in Fiji: Causes and consequences

Sarah Sharpe
(MD candidate)

Population Health

Professor Shanthi Ameratunga
Dr Robyn Whittaker
Dr Bridget Kool (Advisor)

The YourCall Study: Development and evaluation of a mobile phone text message intervention to address hazardous drinking behaviours among adults admitted to hospital following an injury

Jimmy (Jinsong) Chen Population Health
Professor Chris Bullen and Associate Professor Elsie Ho mHealth cessation among Chinese men who smoke

Anantha Kumar

Population Health

Professor Chris Bullen and Dr Karen Bissell

Smoking cessation in rural India

Karen Renner

Population Health 


Professor Chris Bullen and Dr Natalie Walker

The modification of drinking and safety behaviour through the use of participant designed, self-generated text messages via mobile phones delivered at times scheduled by the participant

Rhiannon Martel

Population Health Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith

An evaluation of primary care e-screening for mental health risky health behaviours among TeTai Tokerau youth

Delia Cotoros Population Health

Dr David Newcombe
Dr Rob McNeil


Internet Addiction (IA) – exploring the relationship between IA and certain psychopathologies