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Our people

Ō mātou tāngata

Leadership Group

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

Professor Philip Hill, Co-Director

McAuley Professor of International Health,Philip Hill tn Department of Preventive and Social Medicine

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

Associate Professor Patrick Vakaoti, Co-Director

School of Social SciencesPatrick V TN

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

Professor Tony Binns

School of GeographyBinns TN

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

Professor Phil Bremer

Department of Food SciencePhil Bremer new TN

Phil is a Professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Otago. He applies a multi-disciplinary approach involving microbiology, product development, flavour and sensory science and, increasingly, social science to determine how the way a food is produced and promoted impacts on its suitability, acceptability and value in the market place.

Professor John CrumpJohn_Crump_tn

McKinlay 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.

Associate Professor Christina Ergler

School of GeographyChristina E TN

Associate Professor Christina Ergler is a geographer driven by a passion for creating just, sustainable and inclusive environments that enhance the quality of life of humans and non-humans.

Professor David Fielding

Professor of Economics, Otago Business SchoolDavid Fielding tn

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

Ms Jacqui Hadingham

Department of Women's and Children's HealthJacqui H4 TN

Jacqui has extensive experience in health research, ethics, and project management/implementation in under resourced settings, having worked in the private, public, non-profit/NGO and academic sectors for over 20 years.

Professor Stephen Knowles

Department of EconomicsKnowlesTN

Stephen's research interests include the economics of altruism, with a specific focus on what motivates people to donate to international development charities.

Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu

Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyMQM TN

Professor Quiñones-Mateu’s research interests include HIV, RNA viruses, viral evolution, drug resistance, drug discovery, metagenomics, and novel methodologies. His work currently focuses on the mechanisms and clinical consequences of drug resistant viruses, and studying latently HIV-infected cells aimed at evaluating novel strategies to eradicate HIV infection.

Professor Katrina Sharples

Department of Mathematics and Statisticskatrina_sharples new TN

Katrina is a biostatistician with broad interests in statistical methods for clinical and epidemiological research, and particular expertise in clinical trials. She is the lead statistician for Cancer Trials New Zealand, the Centre for International Health and the Pharmacoepidemiology Research Network, and is also a member of the Centre for Translational Research in Cancer.

Associate Professor Tony Walls

Department of Paediatrics, University of Otago, ChristchurchTony Walls TN

Associate Professor Walls trained in Paediatrics at both Christchurch and Dunedin Hospitals and has an ongoing clinical interest in the management of infection in immunocompromised children. He has also worked as a Consultant at Sydney Children’s Hospital, and was lead clinician for the Paediatric HIV Service.

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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 Richard Adegbola

Richard Adegbola


Professor Richard Adegbola is an independent consultant in Immunisation & Global Health at RAMBICON, Lagos, Nigeria. He obtained a PhD in Medical Microbiology (Univ. of Dundee, UK), did postdoctoral work at Biomedicum (Uppsala, Sweden), and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (London UK). He was awarded honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, London in 2008, elected a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science in 2016. He serves on several international scientific advisory boards.

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 Helen Nicholson

Deputy Vice Chancellor (External Engagement), University of OtagoHelen Nicholson TN

Professor Nicholson's role focuses on strengthening external engagement, raising the profile of the University of Otago and attracting high quality domestic and international students to study at Otago. Her external appointments include membership of the Confucius Institute Board, the Executive of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists. She is an Associate Trustee of Men’s Health Trust New Zealand and a member of the Governance group for the Ageing Well and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges.

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University of Otago Members

Profiled 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.

Professor Jonathan Broadbent

Jonathan BroadbentLongitudinal dental health research

Senior lecturer in preventive dentistry, 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. 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 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.

Associate Professor Shyamal Das

Shyamal DasDrug formulation and delivery

Associate Professor 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.

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.

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.

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 Jacqueline Leckie has taught at the University of the South Pacific, Kenyatta University, and for 27 years ar Otago University. In 2018 she was the JD Stout Research Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington, where she is currently an adjunct research fellow. She is also a conjoint associate professor with the University of Newcastle in Australia. Her research and publications are on the history and anthropology of Asia Pacific, especially mental health, migration, gender, heritage, ethnicity, development, and labour.

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.

Faumuina 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.

Associate Professor Mele Taumoepeau

Associate Professor 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.

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 Members

Surnames A–D

Surnames E–H

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Surnames J–L

Surnames M–P

Surnames Q–T

Surnames U–Y

Non-University of Otago Members

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