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Thursday 30 August 2018 12:02pm

Congratulations to the recipients of Sir John Walsh Research Institute Awards for 2018, which were announced and awarded at the conclusion of SJWRI Research Day on Thursday 30 August at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Our Institute Awards celebrate the research achievements of academic staff and postgraduate students, as well as commending the contribution of general staff to the research successes of the SJWRI and Faculty of Dentistry.

Sir John Walsh Award for Research Excellence

The Sir John Walsh Award, our premier research award, acknowledges excellence in research over an extended period of time by a member of staff of the Faculty of Dentistry. This year's winner is Dr Erwin Lamping.

Dr Erwin Lamping is a Senior Research Fellow within the Molecular Microbiology research programme of the SJWRI, whose research focuses on the structure and function of eukaryotic membrane proteins, especially integral membrane proteins associated with multidrug resistance of fungal pathogens and human cancer cells. His internationally recognised research sheds light on the evolution of resistance in fungal species and sets to aid researchers in designing new treatment strategies to overcome drug resistance. Dr Lamping produces high quality research that is reflected in his sustained high impact factor research outputs (in journals such as Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Molecular Microbiology and Genetics), invited collaborations and presentations, his status as an expert reviewer in numerous journals, and requested science expertise in media outlets such as The Scientist. In particular, his 2017 publication in Genetics received international attention, and was highlighted by the Genetics Society for America, for discovering valuable new clues in the fight against multi-drug resistance. His work may aid researchers in designing new ways to overcome drug resistance and may help understand why cancer cells become resistant to multiple drugs, why people react differently to drugs and why some drugs do not work for some people. As a co- or principal investigator, Dr Lamping has attracted nearly a million dollars in funding, including as co-PI on a major Marsden Fund grant, and as an associative investigator has received $1,812,600. He has extensive international collaborations facilitated by Dr Lamping's co-inventorship on a patented yeast membrane protein expression system that is used worldwide by over 50 research teams.

A deserving recipient of our premier research award for 2018, Dr Lamping receives $5,000 towards professional development.

Research Supervisor Award

Introduced in 2016, this award is to celebrate outstanding research supervisors of postgraduate and undergraduate students within the Faculty of Dentistry. Nominations are made via a survey process, whereby students are asked to anonymously nominate outstanding supervisors, with reasons for their nominations. Attributes such as being supportive, available, interested and enthusiastic, knowledgeable and an expert in their field, a good communicator, and taking prompt, decisive action to resolve issues were listed as being important for excellent supervision.
This year, as in 2017, as a result of a very strong field of nominees the award has been split into undergraduate and postgraduate research supervisor awards. The winners of each award receive $1,000 towards professional development.

Postgraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Lara Friedlander
Dr Lara Friedlander, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Oral Rehabilitation, is a specialist endodontist with research in the areas of pulp development and disease, practice-based research, dental education and immunopathology. She is Deputy Director of the Oral Molecular and Immunopathology research programme of the Sir John Walsh Research Institute. Dr Friedlander has developed research themes in pulpal biology, regeneration and angiogenesis; and separate from this is also active in research related to Endodontic curriculum development and teaching. Results of her PhD research around pulp biology and angiogenesis associated with immature permanent teeth have been presented at international conferences and published in internationally peer-reviewed journals. This work has influenced clinical practice by providing further knowledge about pulp cell behaviour and healing following dental trauma. Lara is a co-supervisor of Clinical Doctorate students and has PhD student supervision. She has had substantial competitive grant applications associated with these. Lara assists in advising on projects and funding applications including PhD pulp research which has evolved from her own research theme. Dr Friedlander enjoys engaging with general dentists in practice-based research and is a member of the New Zealand Dental Research Foundation Board. Here are a selection of comments from postgraduate student nominations:

"Lara has organised our research team and worked tirelessly in getting us organised... I am very fortunate to have a supervisor with her knowledge and expertise. She is extremely well organised and sets the bar high with her leadership."
"Lara always has time to discuss my thesis. We have multiple dentists involved in collecting data and she is very helpful in following up the progress of the practitioners with me."
"She is very supportive of me and believes always I can do the work. She encourages me and teaches me the correct way in everything."

Undergraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Sunyoung MaDr Sunyoung Ma is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rehabilitation, specialising in prosthodontics. After completing her Doctor of Clinical Dentistry thesis titled 'Marginal bone loss around two implants supporting mandibular overdentures', Dr Ma continues to work with the Oral Implantology Research Group collecting the long-term prospective data. Her main focus of research lies on alveolar ridge resorption associated with implant prostheses, long-term implant success and prosthdontic maintenance issues. Dr Ma supervises undergraduate student research projects within the final-year BDS and BDS Honours programmes. Here are a selection of comments from student nominations:

"Dr Sunyoung Ma is an absolutely fantastic supervisor and I cannot recommend her enough for this award. She is always available to her students whether it be 4.45pm on a weekday or even in a research emergency on a weekend... Her expectations of me as a research student are always clear and this can be attributed to her excellent communication skills... Dr Ma has stimulated my interest in dental research and also prosthodontics and I am both a better clinician and researcher all for her teaching. I consider myself privileged to have had the honour to work under Dr Sunyoung Ma."
"Very flexible and understanding and expresses a genuine interest in the research. Always puts the time and effort into helping and supporting us."
"Dr Ma is not only a fantastic supervisor but also a caring and supportive mentor. She constantly encourages her students to do their best and looks for opportunities to help them shine.".

These awards indicate the appreciation, respect and regard in which Dr Friedlander and Dr Ma are held by their students.

Strategic Research Prize

This award is to acknowledge and promote new research within the Faculty of Dentistry, by supporting a research development initiative by a member of staff or postgraduate student that could make a contribution to the strategic direction of research within the Institute. This year's recipient, Associate Professor Dawn Coates, receives $5,000 towards her proposed research project, which aims to establish a new strategic direction for research within the Sir John Walsh Research Institute through collaboration with A/Prof Tim Woodfield'sChristchurch Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (CReaTE) Group within the Centre for Bioengineering & Nanomedicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch. This initiative develops and merges two current key competencies - our significant existing experience in the isolation and clinical application of dental pulp stem cells, and the development of 3D bio-printing for tissue engineering, which is an established strength of the CReaTE Group.

Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. To be eligible, the manuscript must have been accepted for publication between 1 January and 31 December 2017. The recipient, Dr Susan Moffat, will receive $1,000 towards professional development.

A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Oral Sciences, Susan Moffat's field of research includes dental public health, dental therapy history, and the dental therapy and oral health workforce. Dental therapy is an academic discipline which has until recently had little research tradition of its own, having relied traditionally on work undertaken in the disciplines of paediatric dentistry and dental public health. In that respect, Susan is one of the pioneers in dental therapy research, with her work laying some of the groundwork for an ongoing research foundation for the discipline. Susan's award-winning publication, in Frontiers in Public Health, explores the history and impact on oral health inequalities of New Zealand's School Dental Service, through its establishment, expansion, decline and eventual replacement by the Community Oral Health Service in 2006.

Moffat SM, Foster Page LA, Thomson WM. New Zealand's School Dental Service over the decades: Its response to social, political, and economic change, and the effect on oral health inequalities. Frontiers in Public Health 5:177 (2017).

Postgraduate Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in postgraduate student research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. The publication must have been accepted between 1 January and 31 December 2017, and have been written by a Masters or Doctoral research student. The recipient, DClinDent graduate Azza Al-Ani, receives $500.

Azza conducted her DClinDent research within the Craniofacial Research programme of the SJWRI, which is led by Professor Mauro Farella. Her published study showed for the very first time an association between maternal smoking and offspring with hypodontia (congenitally missing teeth). When odds ratios were adjusted for possible confounders, if the mother smoked ten or more cigarettes each day during pregnancy, there was more than four times the risk (odds) that the child would have hypodontia. The article has already had great impact, reported by media around the world. The Journal of Dental Research is considered the premier dental journal, with a 2017 Impact Factor of 5.380 (JCR). The journal is ranked second out of 90 journals in Dentistry, Oral Surgery & Medicine.

Al-Ani AH, Antoun JS, Thomson WM, Merriman TR, Farella M. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with offspring hypodontia. Journal of Dental Research 96:1014-1019 (2017).

Congratulations to all recipients of SJWRI Awards for 2018.

Report from SJWRI Research Day 2018

Erwin Lamping thumbnailDr Erwin Lamping, winner of the Sir John Walsh Award for Research Excellence, 2018.

dawncoates186pxA/Prof Dawn Coates, winner of the 2018 SJWRI Strategic Research Prize.

susanmoffat186pxDr Susan Moffat, winner of the SJWRI Research Publication Award.

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