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Our people

Leadership Group

Our leadership group consists of senior researchers across the University of Otago's Divisions of Commerce, Health Sciences, Humanities, and Sciences.

Professor John Crump, Co-Director

John CrumpMcKinlay Professor of Global Health, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine

Professor Crump's expertise is in infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries, and ethics in global health.

Professor David Fielding, Co-Director

David FieldingDonald Reid Chair in Economics and Deputy Dean, Otago Business School

Professor Fielding's expertise is in development macroeconomics and quantitative political economy, which explores election systems and public policy-making.

Professor Tony Binns

Tony BinnsDepartment of Geography

Professor Binns has expertise in the fields of: development, environment and society, human geography, and rural livelihoods in developing countries.

Professor Hallie Buckley

Hallie BuckleyDepartment of Anatomy

Professor Buckley's expertise is in prehistoric health and disease in the Asia and Pacific regions.

Professor Richard Edwards

Richard EdwardsDepartment of Public Health

Professor Edwards has expertise in tobacco use epidemiology and control, environmental epidemiology, and non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Philip Hill

Philip Hill Department of Preventive and Social Medicine

Professor Hill's fields of expertise include infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries.

Associate Professor Lisa Houghton

Lisa HoughtonDepartment of Human Nutrition

Associate Professor Houghton's expertise includes the assessment and consequences of micronutrient deficiencies.

Tuari Potiki

Tuari PotikiDirector of Māori Development

Tuari provides advice and leadership on incorporating Māori ways of partnership and relationships into the Research Centre.

Dr Patrick Vakaoti

Department of Sociology, Gender and Social WorkPatrick V TN

Patrick is interested in issues experienced by Pacific children and young people. He offers advice on Pacific engagement and relationships.


Jacqui HadinghamJH TN

OGHI Research Centre Manager

Jacqui has worked in HIV research and project management with experience in health, economics and development in southern Africa.

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Advisory Group

Our Advisory Group includes people from institutions, agencies, and business, who have international standing and expertise in their field.

Professor Sir David Skegg, Chair

David SkeggUniversity of Otago

Sir David's expertise is in epidemiology and public health including: cancer epidemiology, contraceptive and drug safety, and reproductive health. He is Chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Professor Richard Adegbola

Richard AdegbolaGlaxo Smith Kline

Dr Adegbola works as a scientific director in GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines business. His experience working on pneumonia research in West Africa has led him to join the fight against pneumonia. Richard says "By training I'm a medical microbiologist, originally from Nigeria. After qualifying in the UK I joined the UK Medical Research Council, and was based in the Gambia in West Africa where pneumonia is a leading cause of death and disability in children under five years of age".

Emerita Professor Rosalind Gibson

Rosalind GibsonUniversity of Otago

Emerita Professor Gibson has had a life-long interest in international nutrition, initially working in the Ethio-Swedish Children’s Nutrition Unit in Ethiopia, and subsequently in collaborative research studies on micronutrients in Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and Ethiopia as well as Thailand, Mongolia and—more recently—Cambodia, and the Northeast region of Brazil and Indonesia.

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-AlaiPacific Islands Centre, University of Otago

The Pacific Islands Centre has a very proud tradition of assisting Pacific people achieve their goals through education.

Professor Jim Mann

Jim MannUniversity of Otago

Professor Mann has been Professor in Human Nutrition and Medicine at the University of Otago and Consultant Physician (Endocrinology) in Dunedin Hospital for 25 years. He is Director of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, the Director of Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research (EDOR), the WHO Collaborating Centre for Human Nutrition, and Principal Investigator for the Riddet Institute, a National Centre of Research Excellence at Massey University, Palmerston North.

Professor Mark McGillivray

Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Deakin UniversityMark Mc TN

Professor McGillivray is Research Professor in International Development at Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute, and former Chief Economist of the Australian Agency for International Development. His work focuses on the causes of inequalities in health outcomes amongst developing countries.

Professor Kim Mulholland

Kim MulhollandLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Professor Mulholland is an Australian paediatrician with subspecialty training in immunology, respiratory medicine and epidemiology. He has spent much of his career working in the developing world, particularly Sudan and Gambia, and more recently in Fiji, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga

Pacific Community (SPC)Colin TN

Dr Tukuitonga is Director-General of Pacific Community (SPC) and was formerly the Director of SPC’s Public Health Division. He has also held senior roles in the New Zealand Ministries of Health and Pacific Island Affairs, University of Auckland, Fiji School of Medicine, New Zealand Health Research Council and regional health authorities. He has also worked with the World Health Organisation, the Pacific Cooperation Foundation and several Pacific cultural and leadership initiatives.

Joel Vanderburg

Joel VanderburgWorld Health Organization

Joel Vanderburg has spent many years working in public health with the World Health Organisation. He has lived and worked in a number of countries in West Africa, Asia, and the Pacific as a field biologist and head of missions.  WHO's mission is to support all countries and peoples in their quest to achieve the highest attainable level of health, defined in the WHO Constitution as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

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University of Otago Network Members

Profiled Network Members

In addition to our leadership and advisory teams the Otago Global Health Institute has a large number of network members. These researchers have a diversity of technical expertise which enables our institute to draw upon a large pool of research fields.

Associate Professor Jonathan Broadbent

Jonathan BroadbentLongitudinal dental health research

Senior lecturer in preventive dentistry, Associate Professor Broadbent's research to date has been in the field of dental epidemiology. He is currently leading the dental component of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. His specific research interests are in oral diseases such as dental caries and social factors that affect risk for those conditions. His research is funded by the New Zealand Health Research Council. Associate Professor Broadbent maintains an interest in oral health in the Pacific, and has provided dental aid in remote Fijian islands and Papua New Guinea.

Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau

Jenny Bryant-Tokalau Poverty, investment and urban land issues in Fiji; Pacific urbanisation, squatting; climate change adaptation; Pacific environmental management; aid

A Geographer working in Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, Associate Professor Bryant-Tokalau's interests are community adaptation to, and donor responses to, climate change in the Pacific; and private sector investment, housing and land issues in Fiji. She has published widely on Pacific poverty and inequality, water and sanitation and the health implications, disasters and community responses, including traditional, land, and urbanisation.

She is currently the lead researcher on the New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research project Commercial potential of land in the Pacific, where she is focusing on Solomon Islands and Fiji. The team is also working in Vanuatu and Samoa.

Professor Hallie Buckley

Hallie BuckleyBioarchaeology, Asia–Pacific, health and disease, forensic anthropology

Co-Director of the Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health: Past and Present, University of Otago Research Theme, Professor Buckley's background is in the excavation and analysis of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites with a focus in the Asia-Pacific region. Her expertise is in palaeopathology and the characterisation of diet and subsistence in the past. Her interests have focused on the impacts of infectious and nutritional disease on the success of settlement in early colonising populations in the Pacific. She leads multi-national and multi-disciplinary bioarchaeology projects funded primarily by the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden Fund.

Associate Professor David Buritt

David Burritt Plant biology, biotechnology, environmental impacts

Associate Professor Buritt, Department of Botany, has research interests including plant-based foods and bioactive molecules found in plants, plant breeding, and biotechnology, and the stress biology of plants and animals. He is a lead or co-investigator on projects funded by Callaghan Innovation, Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, and Zespri International Ltd. He contributes to collaborative research projects in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and has supervised more than 50 post-graduate students, including 22 PhD students, and has 99 peer-reviewed publications.

Emeritus Professor Brian Darlow

Brian DarlowPaediatrics, University of Otago, Christchurch

Professor Darlow is an academic neonatologist with research interests in free radical disease in the newborn, and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which may progress to severe visual impairment or blindness.

In middle-income countries, developing neonatal care has led to increased survival of preterm infants but also an epidemic of ROP, which often goes untreated. From 2007, Brian has contributed to workshops aimed at improving newborn care and the prevention and treatment of ROP in Latin America and Asia under WHO Vision 2020 objectives. A self-administered teaching package for nurses, trialed in Rio de Janeiro, has since been adopted by the Brazilian Ministry of Health.

Dr Shyamal Das

Shyamal DasDrug formulation and delivery

Dr Das is an expert on drug formulations and delivery, and a Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Science. His research is focused on the pulmonary delivery of dry powders to improve drug therapy of tuberculosis, lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. On these, he has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and was the winner of New Zealand Health Research Council Emerging Researcher Award in 2014.

He has been involved in organising two international conferences on respiratory delivery: Drug Delivery to the Lung (annually at Edinburgh) and Inhalation Asia (biennially in Asia). He has supervised students from, and has links with, Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, China, New Zealand, and Australia.

Associate Professor Ruth Fitzgerald

Ruth FitzgeraldTheoretical and applied medical anthropology; contemporary ideologies of health care; innovative medical technology and embodiment in New Zealand society.

Associate Professor Fitzgerald is a medical anthropologist whose expertise is the ethnographic study of health in complex societies. Her deep commitment to understanding the social and political context of wellbeing is reflected in research interests such as health ideologies, care, inequalities in health care provision, embodiment and moral reasoning.

Her work has been both diverse in topic, including critical studies of changing health policy, problematising disability, pioneering the social study of the impact of new genetic technologies in New Zealand, media analysis of health debates, lay meanings of oral health, as well as methodologically flexible, frequently working in interdisciplinary collaborations.

Professor Robin Gauld

Robin GauldDean, Otago Business School

Professor Gauld was formerly a Professor of Health Policy; Head Department of Preventive and Social Medicine; and Director of the Centre for Health Systems, University of Otago Dunedin. Prior to this he was New Zealand-United Kingdom Link Foundation Visiting Professor at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow at Boston and Harvard Universities.  He is Independent Chair of the Alliance South.

Robin has authored around 120 peer-reviewed journal articles, many book chapters and several books. In December 2016, he took up a new role as Dean of the Otago Business School.

Emerita Professor Rosalind Gibson

Rosalind GibsonFood-based strategies for combating micronutrient malnutrition

Emerita Professor Gibson has had a life-long interest in international nutrition, initially working in the Ethio-Swedish Children’s Nutrition Unit in Ethiopia, and subsequently in collaborative research studies on micronutrients in Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and Ethiopia as well as Thailand, Mongolia and—more recently—Cambodia, and the Northeast region of Brazil and Indonesia.

Associate Professor Paul Hansen

Paul HansenHealth economics; decision analysis

Associate Professor Hansen is a health economist and co-inventor of 1000Minds decision-making software ( Applications of 1000Minds in the health sector include prioritising patients for access to elective services, health technology prioritisation, disease classification and developing clinical guidelines.

Though mostly used in high-income countries and for international collaborations, the software and associated expertise is applicable for low- and middle-income countries. 1000Minds applications in LMICs include prioritising vaccinations research (WHO), investigating women’s preferences for contraception (Marie Stopes International), and prioritising emergency responses to natural disasters (UNICEF's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH). 1000Minds is also used for research and teaching at 140 universities worldwide.

Professor Philip Hill

Philip HillInternational health

Professor Hill is Co-Director of the Centre for International Health, and trained in infectious diseases and public health. He spent six years working at the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Gambia, where he led the tuberculosis research and pneumococcal projects. He now has collaboration with Padjadjaran University, Indonesia, and is part of research consortia that span Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific.

He has been lead or co-investigator on grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MRC, European Union, UK Department for International Development, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, NZ Health Research Council, and Global Fund. He has supervised 29 post-graduate students and published 148 peer-reviewed papers.

Associate Professor Stephen Knowles

Stephen KnowlesExperimental economics and the empirical modelling of economic growth and development

Associate Professor Knowles' recent work using experimental economics has focused on the determinants of donations to international development charities (including the effect on donations of providing information on poor health indicators, such as high infant mortality rates, in developing countries). His work on economic growth and development includes analysing the effects of gender inequalities in education and health on economic growth, the relationship between social capital and economic performance, the effects of government intervention on economic performance and the relationship between income inequality and economic growth.

Associate Professor Jacqueline Leckie

Jacqui LeckieSocial anthropology, history and development studies within the South Pacific and South Asia—especially gender, ethnicity, power, diaspora.

Associate Professor Leckie has extensive experience in researching the anthropology and history of the Asia–Pacific region, relating to mental health, migration, gender, ethnicity, and labour. In 2016 she was awarded a University of Otago Prestigious Writing Grant to complete a book on a history of mental health in Fiji. Current and future projects include exploring the development of psychiatry in the Pacific Islands, the entanglement of indigenous concepts and practices of mental health and illness with colonial and Western biomedicine; discourses surrounding yaws and syphilis in the Asia-Pacific region and a history of alcohol in the Pacific Islands. Jacqui is a recent Co-Director of the University’s Asian Migrations Research Theme.

Professor Tony Merriman

Tony MerrimanGenetic basis of gout and rheumatoid arthritis

Professor Merriman leads a research group studying the genetic and environmental causes of gout in Māori and Pacific people, aiming to increase our basic knowledge of the disease process, and hopefully leading to improved preventive and therapeutic approaches.

He also serves as a Maurice Wilkins Centre Associate Investigator developing a programme of research into the genetic causes of obesity and diabetes in the NZ Māori and Pacific populations. He is Chair or Co-Chair for international gout recruitment initiatives in Europe, the United States, and Australasia. Has led two consecutive NZ Health Research Council Programmes and has a sustained research relationship since 2007 with Ngāti Porou Hauora.

Professor David Murdoch

David MurdochInfectious diseases; medical microbiology

Professor David Murdoch is Dean of the University of Otago, Christchurch.

He is the co-leader of The Infection Group, a Senior Associate in the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and a clinical microbiologist at Canterbury Health Laboratories.  A clinical microbiologist and infectious diseases physician by background, he is regarded as a global leader in the field of respiratory infections with a major focus on childhood pneumonia in developing countries. He has served on the Advisory Board of the Centre for International Health since its inception.

Professor Jing-Bao Nie

Jing-Bao NieMedical ethics in China and Asia, transcultural and global bioethics, medical humanities, traditional Chinese medicine

Based at the Bioethics Centre, Professor Nie is also Adjunct Professor at Peking University Medical School, China, and an Associate of the Asia Center, Harvard University. He was trained originally as a physician in Chinese medicine in China, then studied sociology and medical humanities in North America.

His extensive research takes a distinctive transcultural and trans-global approach to medical ethics. His projects were supported twice by the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Currently, he is co-conducting a Harvard China Fund project on rebuilding patient-physician trust and serves as a consultant and collaborator of an US National Institutes of Health project on social and ethical issues of HIV cure research. 

Professor Pauline Norris

Pauline NorrisSocial pharmacy; access to and use of medicines

Many people in developing countries lack access to basic medicines, the quality of medicines available is often poor, and inappropriate use is common. Professor Norris has carried out work on antibiotic use in Samoa, and supervised postgraduate students from Nepal, South Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia on projects related to access, quality, and use of medicines. She is Pacific Student Support person in the School of Pharmacy, is committed to building research capacity, and has supervised numerous Pacific and Māori student projects. Professor Norris’s research in New Zealand is related to access to medicines. She co-founded the Otago Poverty Network.

Professor Elaine Reese

Elaine ReeseAutobiographical memory development; language and literacy development; social influences on cognitive development.

Professor Elaine Reese is based in the Department of Psychology and is a named investigator on the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. Her training is in the role of adult-child interactions in children's and adolescents' language, cognition, and well-being. She has acted as lead or co-investigator on grants from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the US National Institute of Child Health and Development. Elaine serves on the Social Science Panel of the Marsden Fund.

Associate Professor Katrina Sharples

Katrina SharplesBiostatistics

Associate Professor Sharples has a PhD in biostatistics from the University of Washington, and over 30 years' experience as a biostatistician in epidemiological and clinical research. Her areas of application have included HIV/AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and infectious diseases. The latter includes providing biostatistical expertise for several of the research projects carried out by the Centre for International Health on infectious diseases in lower- and middle-income countries. The specific expertise she brings is in statistical methods for more complex study designs, analysis of longitudinal data, and clinical trials.

Faumuina Associate Professor  Fa'afetai (Tai) Sopoaga

Tai SapoagaPacific health

Faumuina is a Public Health Physician, Associate Dean (Pacific), Division of Health Sciences, and Director of the Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit, Health Sciences. She is leading the development of engagement and relationships from the Division of Health Sciences in the Pacific region. Her research interests are in health workforce capacity building for Pacific peoples in New Zealand and the Pacific region.

She is also interested in Pacific health and the wellbeing of Pacific youth. She is currently on the NZ Pacific Research Institute Advisory Board, served on the Oversight and Governance Group for the National Science Challenges, chaired the New Zealand HRC Pacific Research Guidelines Group, and was on the University of Otago Pacific Research Protocol steering committee.

Dr Stephen Sowerby

Stephen SowerbyBioengneering

Dr Sowerby has a background in molecular and physical sciences applied to technology development and its translation. He invented and facilitated the commercialisation of nanoscience tools ( and recently an innovative point of care parasite diagnostic technology being used globally in agricultural and clinical settings (, which has attracted Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, governmental and private equity support.

With a current research focus on the development of tuberculosis diagnostic technology, his role with Otago Innovation Limited brings an emphasis on intellectual property management and the translation of knowledge to maximise the benefit of science and medical research.

Professor Tim Stokes

Tim StokesHealth care delivery and implementation research

Professor Stokes is the Elaine Gurr Chair of General Practice and Head of Department, General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine. He is a general practitioner who conducts health care delivery and implementation research with a focus on:

  • New ways of delivering health services for acute and chronic clinical conditions in primary care and across the primary / community-secondary care interface
  • The adoption of research evidence into routine clinical practice and within health systems

He has carried out implementation research on obstetric care in low- and middle-income countries in collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Birmingham and Aberdeen, UK.

Professor Glenn Summerhayes

Glenn Summerhayes (left) and colleaguePacific archaeology, in particular Melanesia; the archaeology of trade and exchange; the development of social complexity

Professor Summerhayes is a Professor, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, focusing on understanding the histories of people living in western Melanesia from first settlement around 50,000 years ago to the arrival of Europeans. He undertakes archaeological research focusing on colonisation and subsequent adaptations to a variety of landscapes, and assessing the life of these peoples. This includes understanding the subsistence patterns and subsequent health of ancient populations, leading to the modern peoples seen today.

Dr Mele Taumoepeau

Dr Mele TaumoepeauChildren's social understanding, parent-child conversations about mental states, culture and social understanding

Dr Taumoepeau is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, as well as a speech and language therapist. She is Associate Dean (Pacific) for the Division of Sciences.

Dr Taumoepeau conducts small-scale longitudinal studies that examine the effects of parent-child interactions on very young children’s socio-cognitive development.

She has a particular interest in articulating the role of culture on childhood development, and especially in the development of Pasifika children and families. She also has an interest in Pacific adolescent wellbeing and its associations with physical markers of health. She has published in the areas of childhood socio-cognitive development, language development, and culture and socio-emotional development. Mele is a former chair of the Health Research Council of New Zealand Pacific research committee.

Dr Tony Walls

Tony WallsPaediatric infectious diseases

Dr Walls is a Clinical Senior Lecturer and paediatric infectious diseases specialist at the Department of Paediatrics, University of Otago Christchurch. He did his clinical training in paediatrics at the University of Otago, and his specialist training at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

He is active in the field of immunisation policy and is currently on the PHARMAC immunisation sub-committee, the national immunisation handbook committee, and the committee for the verification of measles elimination in New Zealand. His current research interests include Kingella infections in pre-schoolers, and the prevention of recurrent tonsillitis and otitis media in older children.

Associate Professor Peter Whigham

Peter WhighamInformation science

Professor Wigham is Director of the Spatial Information Research Centre and actively pursues research interests in spatial modelling, theoretical population genetics, and evolutionary computation models.

Professor Whigham's interests include many aspects of spatial research including the use of machine learning and statistical techniques for modelling spatio-temporal patterns and the use of spatial systems for modelling ecological behaviour, aspects of public health, and theoretical population genetics. He also performs basic research in the field of evolutionary computation, especially genetic programming. His teaching interests include data mining, spatial modelling and intelligent information systems. Current postgraduate students work in ecology, spatio-temporal representation, and financial modelling.

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Other Network Members

Surnames A–D

Surnames E–H

Surnames J–L

Surnames M–P

Surnames R–T

Surnames U–Y

Non-University of Otago Network Members

Stephen Howie TNAssociate Professor Stephen Howie University of Auckland

Stephen Howie is a graduate of the University of Auckland School of Medicine and completed specialist paediatric training in New Zealand. From 2003 to 2015 he worked at the UK Medical Research Council's unit in The Gambia, West Africa, latterly as its Theme Leader for Child Survival. He holds a PhD in clinical epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and his research interests include the prevention and treatment of high-morbidity, high-mortality, child health conditions, including pneumonia, vaccine-preventable infections, nutritional problems, diarrhoea, and maternal & newborn illness. He is currently Associate Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Auckland.

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