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Pulse 48: January / February 2015

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

PVC's welcome

Peter Crampton, PVC Health Sciences
Professor Peter Crampton

Kia ora koutou

Welcome to the January / February edition of Pulse 2015.

The year is already well underway with all students now settling into their studies. Thank you to all staff who have worked with students during the various course approval processes.

Congratulations to those in the Division who from 1 February 2015 have taken up their professorial appointments. Further details follow in the body of this newsletter. We look forward to their Inaugural Professorial Lectures during the year.

We also congratulate those who received promotions to Associate Professor, Research Associate Professor and Clinical Associate Professor.

The Otago School of Medical Sciences held their annual awards ceremony at the end of 2014 where the achievements of staff were celebrated. Congratulations to all those who received awards.

I am pleased to note that the Division continues to be represented on the National Science Board with the appointment of Professor Parry Guilford.

We are looking forward to the launches of the two National Science Challenges that we are leading.

I am sure 2015 will be a busy, challenging and rewarding year, and I look forward to working with you to make it a successful year.

Peter Crampton
Professor Peter Crampton
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Division of Health Sciences,

General news

Professorial appointments

Congratulations to those in the Division who gained promotion in the latest professorial appointment round.

Promotion to Professor

Lutz Beckert, Department of Medicine, UOC
Warwick Duncan, Department of Oral Sciences, Dentistry
Chris Frampton, Department of Medicine, UOC
Richard Gearry, Department of Medicine, UOC
Leigh Hale, School of Physiotherapy
Rhonda Rosengren, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, OSMS
Kate Scott, Department of Psychological Medicine, DSM
Geoffrey Shaw, Department of Anaesthesia, UOC

Promotion to Associate Professor

Stephen Bunn, Department of Anatomy, OSMS
Peter Fineran, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, OSMS
Patries Herst, Departmentt of Radiation Therapy, UOW)
Julia Horsfield, Department of Pathology, DSM
Keith Ireton, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, OSMS
Christine Jasoni, Department of Anatomy, OSMS
Gill Johnson, School of Physiotherapy
Jonathan Leichter, Department Oral Sciences, Dentistry
Ping Liu, Department of Anatomy, OSMS
Brian Monk, Department of Oral Sciences, Dentistry
Suetonia Palmer, Department of Medicine, UOC
Suzanne Pitama, Dean's Department, UOC
Ivan Sammut, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, OSMS
Tai Sopoaga, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, DSM
Simon Stebbings (Medicine)
Neil Waddell (Oral Rehabilitation)

Promotion to Research Associate Professor

Nigel Anderson, Department of Radiology, UOC
Gabriele Dachs, Department of Pathology, UOC

Promotion to Clinical Associate Professor

Jeremy Krebs, Department of Medicine, UOW
Konrad Richter, Department of Surgical Sciences, DSM
Catherine Stedman, Department of Medicine, UOC

Otago School of Medical Sciences annual awards

The School held its annual awards ceremony on 17 December 2014 in the Hunter Centre.

OSMS awards all winners image
OSMS winners 2014

Congratulations to the following on their awards:
Neil Gemmell, Distinguished Researcher of the Year 2014
Stephen Sowerby, Commercial Research Award 2014
Pete Jones,  Emerging Researcher Award 2014
Sally McCormick, Distinguished Academic Teacher 2014
Annika Bokor, Distinguished Teaching Fellow/PPF Science 2014
Matt Bevin, Distinguished Teaching Fellow/PPF Professional Programmes 2014
Justine Fuller, Research Support Staff Award 2014
Peter Stockwell, Distinguished Research Support Staff Award 2014
Allan Mitchell, Sustained Research Support Staff Award 2014
Greg Cook, Best Paper Award 2014
Tony Merriman, Māori/ Pasifika Research Award 2014
Warren Tate, Service to the School Award

Read the Otago Bulletin article.
Read the Otago Daily Times article.

National Science Board appointment

Professor Parry Guilford

Congratulations to Professor Parry Guilford (Biochemistry, OSMS) on his appointment to the National Science Board for a three-year term.  He will replace Professor Warren Tate (Biochemistry, OSMS) whose term on the Board has ended.

Read the Otago Daily Times article.

Departmental news


  • Congratulations to Steve Seo who has been awarded the Brain Health Research Centre (BHRC) 2015 Roche Hanns Möhler Scholarship, worth $10,000. Steve is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anatomy and the BHRC, and is supervised by Dr Beulah Leitch.  The scholarship will enable Steve to continue with developmental studies to determine whether changes in GABAA receptor subunit levels in the thalamus occur prior to seizure onset or post-seizure, thus leading to an enhanced understanding of mechanisms underlying generation or propagation of absence seizures.
  • PhD student Gail Elliott (supervisor Dr  Siân Halcrow) has recently returned from the United States where she was one of two visiting scientists at the forensic anthropology unit of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) in New York. Gail was accepted into the Visiting Scientist programme and spent much of November shadowing experienced forensic anthropologists. Her daily activities included attending autopsies, visiting death scenes, listening to medical examiners discuss cases, attending court to listen to expert witness testimony, and working alongside forensic scientists as they liaise with the families of 9/11.
  • Research undertaken by PhD student Monica Tromp (supervisors Associate Professor Hallie Buckley and Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith) as part of her Masters studies at Idaho State University, and her supervisor Dr John Dudgeon, has helped solve a mystery about what plant foods Easter Islanders relied on before the arrival of Europeans in the 18th Century. Their previous research showed that the vast majority of phytoliths (plant microfossils) embedded within dental calculus came from palm trees, indicating that palm may have been a staple plant food for the Island's inhabitants. However no other line of archaeological or ethnohistoric evidence supported this. Monica and Dr Dudgeon undertook further analysis of the teeth, and their research highlights that evidence of plant foods found in dental calculus can come from the environment which foods are grown in, not necessarily from the food itself, and this finding has the potential to impact dental calculus studies worldwide.


  • On January 30, the Department officially farewelled and thanked Kurt Krause for his services as HOD, and welcomed Catherine Day as the new HOD.
  • Congratulations to Steph Hughes who was awarded Neurological Foundation funding for her Batten Disease work. She and Warren Tate were also named on another Neurological Foundation grant, that of Dr Margaret Ryan, on secreted amyloid precursor protein alpha. More good news for Steph came in the form of Cure Kids funding to investigate the effects of cannabinoids on Batten Disease and childhood epilepsy.
  • On Friday February 13 a cricket match was held between Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology.  The winner this year was the Microbiology & Immunology team.


The Faculty welcomed Professor Paul Brunton into his role as the Dean of Dentistry.  Professor Brunton took up his appointment on January 12 and was welcomed to the Faculty on January 30 with a mihi whakatau followed by a morning tea.  Professor Brunton has joined us from the University of Leeds where he was head of restorative dentistry and director of student education.

Read the Otago Daily Times article.

Microbiology and Immunology

Dr Roslyn Kemp awarded Genesis Oncology Trust Funding

Congratulations to Dr Roslyn Kemp, who has been awarded a $39,407 Genesis Oncology Grant for her project entitled Improved survival with cimetidine in early colorectal cancer: impact on the Immunoscore. The Genesis Oncology Trust support New Zealand-based initiatives that will lead to improvements in the prevention, detection, diagnosis or treatment of cancer, or improvements in palliative care.

Trio wins best paper for 2014 at OSMS awards

Kiel Hards, Dr Chris Greening and Professor Greg Cook were awarded the best paper prize at the 2014 Otago School of Medical Sciences (OSMS) annual end of year prize-giving. The paper, entitled A soil actinobacterium scavenges atmospheric H2 using two membrane-associated, oxygen-dependent [NiFe]-hydrogenases, was published in PNAS (The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) last March.

Three academic promotions for 2015

Three staff of Microbiology and Immunology have been awarded academic promotions effective from 1 February 2015. This recognises their ongoing career achievements and demonstrates that each is a true asset to the department. Congratulations to Dr Peter Fineran (Associate Professor), Dr Keith Ireton (Associate Professor) and Dr Sergio Morales (Senior Lecturer).


Congratulations to Dr Matt Bevin, Justine Fuller and Dr Pete Jones, who received awards at the 2014 Otago School of Medical Sciences (OSMS) Awards ceremony on 17th December.


Funding successes

Congratulations to the following staff members on their recent funding success:

  • Dr Prasath Jayakaran has been awarded the following grants:
    • OMRF Jack Thomson Arthritis Fund 2014 ‘Early detection of hip/knee osteoarthritis to improve physical activity and self-efficacy’
    • New Zealand Artificial Limb Service 2014 ‘Physical activity and quality of life in persons with dysvascular and traumatic below-knee amputation’
  • Dr Meredith Perry was awarded:
    • Physiotherapy New Zealand 2014 ‘Incidence and prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female netball players in New Zealand and identification of associated risk factors.’
  • Dr Daniel Ribeiro has been awarded:
    • OMRF Jack Thomson Arthritis Fund 2014 ‘Shoulder muscle activity of shoulder mobilization’
    • James G. Hay Travel Grant, Royal Society NZ

Student successes

Congratulations to PhD students who have been awarded research grant funding from Physiotherapy New Zealand:

  • Leon Mabire ‘ The Influence of Relative BMI on Energy Expenditure during Brisk Walking’
  • Ally Calder ‘Development of a strategic framework to enable support persons to facilitate male stroke survivors to engage in physical activity’

Partnership with Well South Primary Health Network

The Dunedin Community Exercise Programme (DCEP) has received funding for 2015/16 from Well South Primary Health Network. DCEP is a community health initiative led by the School of Physiotherapy. DCEP is a comprehensive 12-week rehabilitation programme for people with Diabetes or Prediabetes aimed at improving health and wellbeing through exercise and self-management education. Further information on DCEP can be found at

Other news

Medical Simulation Symposium

Tuesday 28th April 2015, Rolleston Lecture Theatre, University of Otago, Christchurch

In large part due to the vision and persuasive powers of Professor Spencer Beasley, three international experts will present at a one day simulation symposium in Christchurch. The event is open to anyone with an interest in simulation.

The international speakers are making a detour to Christchurch on their way to the RACS Scientific meeting in Perth and will headline this event alongside a number of local presenters.

The cost is $57.50 and includes catering. More information including full programme and online registration is at

Specialist equipment and expertise converges

Dr Tracy Melzer and MRI scanner
Dr Tracy Melzer and MRI scanner

Following the Divisional Review of Research Infrastructure, groups have been drafting web pages about their specialist equipment and expertise. This is helping expand the information available within the Division of Health Sciences website.

The pages are designed to help researchers find:

  • What specialist equipment / expertise is available within the Division
  • On what basis can the facility / service be accessed
  • Who to contact

The pages are also useful for external researchers, and prospective staff and students.

If you’d like to be included please contact Wendy.

See our Divisional Facilities page: