Anatomy and Medical Imaging News

School of Medical Sciences


Accreditation success for our Medical Imaging programme

Congratulations to Associate Professor Jenny Sim, and her Medical Imaging team.

They have achieved another significant milestone: full accreditation status for three of their programmes.

Recently, the Medical Radiation Technologists Board (MRTB) accredited the following programmes:


  • PGDip in Health Sciences in Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • PGDip in Health Sciences in Ultrasound
  • PGDip in Health Sciences in Medical Imaging (Nuclear Medicine pathway)

In congratulating the Medical Imaging team, I note the commendation from the MRTB regarding the significant enhancements.

These enhancements resulted in a positive impact on the quality of the programmes and its delivery.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Jenny Sim for her leadership and the team’s recent success.



Associate Professor Jenny Sim appointed CLeaR Fellow for 2016

Congratulations to Associate Professor Jenny Sim, director of our Medical Imaging Programme, who has been appointed as our 2016 Faculty Fellow for the Centre for Learning & Research (CLeaR) Fellowship Programme

The theme for the 2016 programme is ‘Engaging with elearning’, tying in with our University’s approaching transition from CECIL to Canvas as the institutional learning management system.

Associate Professor Sim has been piloting a clinical decision making model in which tutors have role modelled and made explicit their cognitive pathways via a ‘thinking aloud’ technique and engaging students in clinical decision-making discussions.

This has proven to be successful, and Jenny’s Fellowship project will focus on how the ‘thinking aloud’ technique can be facilitated online to ensure that online students will have similar learning opportunities to develop decision-making skills as their on-campus peers.

Prior to joining the University in December 2013, Jenny held leadership roles helping promote the scholarship of teaching and learning in health professional education at a number of Australian universities including Curtin University of Technology, Monash University and RMIT University.

Jenny brings to her Fellowship role existing research interests in higher education including online learning, simulation-based learning, communities of learning, reflective practice and continuing professional development.


Susann Beier - MRI

Dynamically scaled-up model flow for coronary disease research 

“Dynamically scaled-up coronary models may revolutionise coronary artery disease research” says main researcher and doctoral student Susann Beier.

Every 90 minutes a New Zealander dies from heart disease. Many of these deaths are premature and preventable. The vessels most susceptible to disease are the vessels surrounding the heart, the coronary arteries. 

“The functionality of the coronaries is very important as they supply oxygen and nutrients rich blood to the heart. The heart muscle is magnificent; it allows the heart to beat continuously for more than 2 ½ billion times in a patient’s life time. But without such sufficient blood supply, the patient may experience shortness of breath or chest pain, and possibly even have a heart attack or dies as a consequence.” Susann says.

One way of diagnosing and understanding artery disease is to analyse the blood flow in vessel. Slow or rapidly changing blood flow creates the biological environment for plaque to accumulate, and with plaque accumulation the disease grows. Researchers around the world analyse blood flow in most parts of the blood flow system, helping to better diagnose artery disease and improve patient treatment.

“Even though the coronary arteries are most likely to accumulate plaque, their blood flow cannot be assessed without risks today. Being very small calibre vessels, which move constantly with the beating heart, no medical imaging technology can measure their flow non-invasively, accurately and without risk today.“ she explains.

So, Susann Beier and the successful team of New Zealand researches, including the Cardiologist Prof. John Ormiston and A. Prof Mark Webster, the Engineers Dr. John Cater, Dr. Stuart Norris, and Prof. Alistair Young and the medical doctor A. Prof. Brett Cowan, found a way to experimentally test coronary blood flow.

“We can use precise 3D printing to reproduce accurate, patient-specific models of coronary arteries with one major difference: they are scaled-up by a factor of 10.” Susann continues.

These models can be incorporated to a flow circuit which replicates the coronary blood flow in that patient’s coronary. Advanced 4D phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging is used to measure the replicated coronary blood flow.

“It is quite exciting that we were able to proof that the replicated flow in these large 3D printed coronaries is just identical to the real patient blood flow. This is possible due to a physics principal called ‘dynamic similarity’, where the flow in small and large scale domains is the same if certain experimental conditions are preserved.” Susann says.

“We now want to work on using this technique to improve computer simulations of coronary blood flow. That will allow us to generate more accurate predictions and help to test normal, disease or treated coronaries more easily.”

An interview with Susann about her research will air during the ‘Our Changing World’ programme on Thursday the 9th of July, 2015 from 9pm on Radio NZ. The audio is available for download at:

The team likes to acknowledge the Centre for Advances MRI, the national super-computing facility NeSI, Technical Services at the Engineering and Medical Faculty at the University of Auckland. 


Contact details 

Susann Beier, PhD Candidate:

University of Auckland, Biomedical Sciences



Louise and two host school prefects

Epsom Girls Grammar School honours Professor Louise Nicholson

Professor Louise Nicholson, from our Centre for Brain Research, has recently been honoured with a ‘Foundation Award’ from the Epsom Girls Grammar Old Girls Association.

Established in 1997, the ‘Founders Award’ recognises Epsom Girls Grammar School alumnae who have demonstrated exceptional individual achievement or contributed significantly globally or nationally.  

In her citation, Professor Nicholson acknowledged her biomedical research - particularly in neuroscience, her passion for education and science, and for getting young people engaged about learning.

It was noted that ‘Louise loves to mentor graduate students who share her drive and desire to make a difference in people’s lives’.

Former University of Auckland lecturer, Dr Ngapare Hopa (Services to Maori and Maori Arts) and Rima Te Wiata (Services to Dramatic Arts) were also recipients of the award this year.

Please join me in extending your congratulations to Professor Nicholson for this exceptionally well-deserved award.


Helen Spence and Sheryl Tan

Anatomy and Medical Imaging Student makes the Deans List for PhD excellence

Sheryl Tan was one of two students in our Faculty who were successfully  cited in the School of Graduate Studies Deans List.  The list recognises the achievement of excellence in their PhD theses.

Sheryl Tan, from our School of Medical Sciences, completed her thesis on ‘Toward understanding the structure and plasticity of the human olfactory bulb in the normal and Parkinson's disease brain’.

Associate Professor Maurice Curtis was Sheryl’s main supervisor and Dr Hector Monzo Gil and Professor Michael Dragunow were co-supervisors. Associate Professor Michelle Glass was her adviser.