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Department of Pathology News Archive 2013

December 2013

Free Radical Researcher promoted to full Professor

Mark HamptonCongratulations to Prof Mark Hampton on his promotion to full Research Professor.

Prof Hampton is one of 12 academics at Otago being promoted to full Professor in February after a thorough evaluation and advice from international experts.

The promotions were announced by Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne who warmly congratulated the new professors on their well-earned promotions.

November 2013

Free Radical Professor featured in the NZ Listener

Listener Magazine Cover Issue 3837Professor Tony Kettle’s research into chlorine bleach and cystic fibrosis in children has been profiled in the NZ Listener.

Last month Professor Kettle received a Marsden Grant to further his research into chlorine bleach.

The article Our Chemical Romance: Bleach produced in the body can be both good and bad for our health, features in issue 3837, dated 23 November 2013.

New research on Legionnaires' disease featured on TVNZ's One News

David MurdochHOD Professor David Murdoch was interviewed for TVNZ’s One News on 2 November about new research by the Microbiology Research Group to uncover the exact cause of Legionnaires’ disease.

Traditionally the disease has been linked with the use of potting mix but they now suspect there may be more to it than that.

Professor Murdoch said many people who contract the disease say they have not been in contact with potting mix but have reported a history of gardening.

Watch Professor Murdoch on One News.

October 2013

New Marsden Grant for the Centre for Free Radical Research

logo - Marsden FundProfessors Tony Kettle and Christine Winterbourn from the Centre for Free Radical Research have gained a Marsden grant to investigate how and when chlorine bleach ties knots in proteins.

Chlorine bleach – the chemical we use around the home to kill germs and remove stains - is produced by white blood cells in our bodies to kill bacteria. However, it can also wreak havoc in inflammatory diseases by damaging essential proteins. New research suggests that an oxidizing agent like chlorine bleach is generated by an enzyme in cells that produce connective tissue.

With this grant new methods will be developed to identify the cross-links in proteins from inflammatory sites in patients with heart disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. These methods will also help identify the essential cross-links in collagen.

The Centre for Free Radical Research will team up with researchers from Vienna and Budapest to understand how peroxidasin produces chlorine bleach and whether it is used to weave proteins into strong molecular structures.

Knowledge from this grant will advance the understanding of how tissues are damaged during inflammation and show how the reactivity of chlorine bleach has been exploited by evolution to tie essential knots in the strands of collagen.

Anatomical Pathology Professor featured on TVNZ's Seven Sharp

Robin FraserProfessor Robin Fraser was interviewed as part of a story about the drink driving limit in New Zealand on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp.

The legislation to change the blood alcohol limit from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg for drivers over 20 will have its first reading in Parliament before Christmas.

Watch Professor Fraser on Seven Sharp.

September 2013

Genetics Professor interviewed by TVNZ's Seven Sharp

Professor Martin Kennedy was interviewed by TVNZ’s Seven Sharp progamme about direct-to-consumer genetic testing and assessed the reporter’s genetic test results.

It aired on 24 September as part of Otago Genetics Week.

Watch Martin Kennedy on Seven Sharp.

General Staff Member Awarded for Exceptional Performance

Helen Morrin receiving the General Staff Exceptional Performance Award 2013It has been announced that Helen Morrin, Curator of the Cancer Society Tissue Bank is the winner of the 2013 Award for Exceptional Performance by a member of the General Staff.

Helen has worked for the University for 16 years, and has a unique role as Curator of the Tissue Bank. During her time in this role, Helen has demonstrated a high level of ethical, scientific, personnel, financial and managerial skills which have led to the provision of a world class cancer sample biorepository. She has demonstrated excellence in her field both in New Zealand and internationally and raised awareness of the processes and problems associated with banking human tissue at the University and governmental levels.

This is the first time the Award has been given to someone outside of the Dunedin Campus. Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne presented Helen with the award at an afternoon tea award ceremony on 16 September.

July 2013

Pathology PhD student wins UOC 3 Minute Thesis Heat

Andrew DasPathology PhD Student Andrew Das has won the 2013 UOC Heat of the 3 Minute Thesis Competition with his talk, A Radical View.

Andrew goes through to the next round in Dunedin on 30 August to compete for a spot in the Australasian Finals at the University of Western Sydney in October.

Andrew is undertaking his PhD in the Centre for Free Radical Research under the supervision of Professor Tony Kettle and Professor Christine Winterbourn.

June 2013

Hidden talents of HOD revealed in North and South Magazine

David Murdoch in North and South magazineHead of Department Professor David Murdoch features in the July issue of North and South.

In the article On a healing note, David discusses his research into the causes of childhood pneumonia with PERCH and also his skills as a luthier, handcrafting guitars and ukuleles.

PERCH (Pneumonia Etiology Research for Child Health) is made up of a international team investigating childhood pneumonia in Kenya, Mali, the Gambia, South Africa, Thailand and Bangladesh and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To date David has made 14 instruments, a number of which have been gifted to his fellow PERCH researchers around the world.

Our Singing Haematology Lecturer

Sean MacPhersonSenior Lecturer Dr Sean MacPherson turns subjects such as anaemia into catchy medical songs.

The haematologist composes songs for his lectures to help medical students remember what he is teaching. Lectures cover topics such as anaemia, iron deficiency and exploding red cells.

“The songs are a mnemonic to help the students remember and stop my lectures from getting too boring,” he says.

Sean has been a pianist since he was five and plays the trombone, guitar and mandolin.

He says his songs need to contain humour to be memorable, but he is careful not to be offensive as the subject matter, particularly conditions such as acute leukaemia are no laughing matter.

Check Sean out:
The Singing Lecturer - on TVNZ's Seven Sharp, 4 June 2013
Waxing lyrical in a bid to stir students' blood - The Press article, 27 May 2013
The Anaemia Song - on Youtube

May 2013

Pharmacogenomics Researchers featured on Radio NZ's Our Changing World

Martin KennedyProfessor Martin Kennedy and PhD Student Sarah Jodczyk of the Gene Structure and Function Lab featured on Radio New Zealand’s Our Changing World series in an article about pharmacogenomics.

In the article Martin discusses how scientists are only just beginning to understand how differences in our DNA and our individual genetic make-up impact on both disease and its treatment, and in the recognition of how many genes may be involved in a single disease.

Meanwhile Sarah talks about her research on the differences in chromosome telomere length between people who have been exposed to different kinds and amounts of stress.

The article also features Leon Smyth who was a Summer Student in the lab, his project was looking at the effect of the drug-metabolising enzyme CYP2C19 on the response of individuals to the anti-clotting medication Clopidogrel.

April 2013

Free Radical Researcher featured on Radio NZ's Our Changing World

Mark HamptonAssociate Professor Mark Hampton was interviewed for Radio NZ’s Our Changing World Series.

In the feature Endogenous Antioxidants, Mark discusses how he is trying to determine how the body's own antioxidants work and how they could be used to treat cancer.

March 2013

Mackenzie Cancer Busters in Relay for Life

The Mackenzie Cancer Research Group put together an enthusiastic team of students, scientists, a clinician and compliant family members to join the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event at Riccarton High School in mid-March.

Relay for lifeDuring the 18 hour event one of the 23 members had to be on the track at all times. Most members brought their own tents and stayed over which Dr Gabi Dachs said gave the evening and night a festive atmosphere.

“In contrast, the start and candle light ceremony were much more sombre and emotional. The track looked great lined with many individually decorated candle bags. Seeing ‘I miss you mum’, or similar, really brought home the idea of why we were doing this.”

The team managed to raise in excess of $2800. The Cancer Society holds the event at different venues around New Zealand and estimates that over $35,000 was raised at the Riccarton event. This money will be used to support cancer sufferers, carers and research.

New research into optimal vitamin C intake from the Centre for Free Radical Research

Margreet VissersA daily vitamin C intake equivalent to eating two kiwifruit a day is required to ensure our muscles maintain optimal levels, researchers from the Centre for Free Radical Research have found.

Professor Margreet Vissers and her team in the Centre for Free Radical Research are involved in a large on-going study to better understand the critical role of vitamin C in the human body. They are also investigating the best way to obtain the vitamin from the diet.

Their paper on the uptake of vitamin C into muscle has just been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the most prestigious publication in the field of nutrition science.

Margreet also features t in the March 2013 edition of Consumer magazine in the article Bitter pills - antioxidant supplements, and appeared on the TVNZ Sunday show on 24 March..

February 2013

UOC's Gold Medal for Research Excellence awarded to HOD 

David MurdochCongratulations to Head of Department, Professor David Murdoch for receiving the UOC Gold Medal for Research Excellence.

David was awarded the medal during the UOC’s Fortieth Anniversary Celebration Dinner at Wigram Airbase.

2013 BBiomedSc(Hons) Students begin

Honours Students 2013The Department warmly welcomes the four students enrolled in the Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences with Honours course for 2013.

Zac Gerring, Annika Seddon and Teresa Flett are all doing projects with supervisors in the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group.

While Kate Vick is doing her project under the supervision of Associate Professor Mark Hampton in the Centre for Free Radical Research.

January 2013

Visitors at the Centre for Free Radical Research

Guy SalvesenThe New Year begins with the Centre of Free Radical Research hosting 3 visitors.

Professor Guy Salvesen (pictured) has joined the Department for 6 months on sabbatical from the Sanford-Burnham Institute in California, USA and Professor Terry Kavanaugh is visiting from Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, USA.

The Centre also has a visiting PhD student, Marjolein Soethoudt who will be studying at the Centre for 6 months.