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Pulse 52: September / October 2015

Friday, 30 October 2015

PVC's welcome

Peter Crampton, PVC Health SciencesKia ora koutou kātoa.

Welcome to this edition of Pulse.

The end of the academic year is rapidly approaching. We wish students well for their exams, and appreciate the efforts of staff in the marking of those exams.

This year's Divisional research forum—Otago Spotlight Series: Cancer Research—was a great success. It showcased the research being undertaken across Health Sciences' three campuses, to a diverse audience which included funders and policymakers. Thank you to all who contributed to this enjoyable and well-attended event.

I warmly congratulate Professor Antony Braithwaite, Dr Diane Kenwright, and Dr Logan Walker, whose significant recent successes are highlighted below.

Congratulations also to Dr Ros Kemp, winner of the Association for Women in the Science Miriam Dell Award for her work inspiring female immunologists. Recently Dr Kemp also received a National Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award—a remarkable and well-deserved achievement. Our students are tremendously fortunate to receive inspiration not just from Dr Kemp, but from many talented teachers and researchers across the Division.

Take care everyone during the last hectic months of the year.

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

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General news

James Cook Research Fellowship

Professor Antony Braithwaite, recipient of a James Cook Research FellowshipCancer researcher Professor Antony Braithwaite (Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine) has received a two-year James Cook Research Fellowship. The Fellowships are awarded to support the work of researchers who are at the peak of their careers and recognised leaders in their respective fields.

It will allow Professor Braithwaite to concentrate on a research project entitled A strategy for targeting the cancer-associated protein YB-1 as a novel cancer therapy. YB-1 is present at high levels in cancer cells, particularly in advanced cancers. YB-1 has also been shown to be required for cancer cell growth and cancer cell survival. Thus, YB-1 seems to be an excellent target for new cancer therapies, and the aim of this research is to develop a targeting strategy for YB-1.

The funding package annually is NZ$100,000 (excl GST), and up to NZ$10,000 (excl GST) in relevant expenses.

Otago health researchers awarded prestigious fellowships (Otago press release)
Fellowships awarded (ODT)

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KuraCloud in the classroom wins 2015 CALT

Dr_Diane_Kenwright_profileCongratulations to Dr Diane Kenwright, the 2015 winner of Otago's Centre for Advanced Learning and Teaching (CALT) Award, given for projects which use technology in new ways for teaching. Diane has used the 'flipped classroom model', where students get the information before the class.

Diane won the award for using the KuraCloud software platform, developed by ADInstruments in Dunedin. She built real-life case studies presented in a very accessible, fun and interactive way and then the students applied the material in class.

"KuraCloud gives a clean, beautiful result. It allows the students to learn the material and actively test themselves on it, and combines ideas with hands-on learning which makes it more authentic for the students," Diane says.

Based on interactive cases with clinical access, it gives students immediate access to specimens using high resolution images. Students come into the class with more knowledge so they can focus on the practical application during class sessions.

Previously they might have read a chapter in a textbook, before or after the class, "but in a crowded timetable, students struggle to make time for reading the textbook chapter, whereas this way is fun, interactive and interesting so they learn more," she says.

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Rutherford Discovery Fellowship

Logan WalkerGeneticist Dr Logan Walker (Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, University of Otago, Christchurch) has won a prestigious research fellowship to develop better ways of identifying high-risk breast and ovarian cancer patients.

The NZ$800,000 Rutherford Discovery Fellowship will allow Dr Walker to work for five years on determining the best ways to take genomic medicine from the laboratory into the medical clinic. Genomic medicine is about customising medical care to each person's unique genetic makeup, and has been touted as the future for medicine.

Dr Walker will use the Fellowship, funded by the Royal Society, to develop better methods for identifying high-risk breast and ovarian cancer patients, and new approaches for evaluating the clinical significance of genetic changes. This knowledge and expertise in cancer will also help in developing protocols to evaluate genetic changes responsible for inherited diseases other than cancer.

Otago health researchers awarded prestigious fellowships (Otago press release)
Fellowships awarded (ODT)

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Otago Medical School students reach Global Health Debates Grant Final

Kieran Bunn speaking at the Global Health DebatesPresident of the Wellington Medical Students' Association, Kieran Bunn, and PhD student Sophia Cameron-Christie (Clinical Genetics Group, Dunedin School of Medicine), recently travelled to the Philippines as members of the team representing Otago in the Global Health Debates. The Otago team made it to the Grand Final, which was watched by around 300 conference attendees.

Other opportunities which arose at the conference included the chance to meet political and health leaders, and future medical professionals, from Asia and South Africa.

The Otago team also received an official invitation from the Nepalese Debating Society to spend time in the summer coaching and fostering debate in Nepal.

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Departmental news 

Dunedin School of Medicine

Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Professor Kate Scott (Department of Psychological Medicine) will present her Inaugural Professorial Lecture—Taking a count of mental disorders: epidemiology and impact—on Tuesday, 3 November at 5.30pm in the Barnett Lecture Theatre, First Floor, Dunedin Hospital. All welcome.

Live-stream link for audiences in Christchurch and Wellington

Teaching Awards

Winners of DSM teaching awards with Professor Barry Taylor (centre). From left: Dr Chow Lai, Tom Clarkson, Associate Professor Gerard Wilkins, Mr John Matheson.

The School presented its annual teaching awards on 14 October. The awards are recognition of the contribution staff make in clinical teaching and are judged solely on student votes. Congratulations to the following:

  • Jamie Leong and Devind Vijan Certificate for the Trainee Intern who has shown Commitment and Aptitude for Teaching
  • Michael Chen and Tom Clarkson Commendation to Trainee Intern
  • Keith Lee Certificate to House Officer who has shown Commitment and Quality in Teaching
  • Joshua Milne Commendation to House Officer
  • Health Lash and Yvonne McFarlane Certificate to Registrar who has shown Commitment and Quality in Teaching
  • Bridget Watson and Chow Lai Commendation to Registrar
  • Associate Professor Konrad Richter Innovation in Teaching (interprofessional training simulations for trainee interns and SIT nursing students)
  • Kimball Chen and Dr Faherty Dean's Commendation to Invercargill Teaching Staff
  • Breast Screening, Ortho/Fracture, Invercargill Paediatric Ward Staff Certificate to the Nursing Team which has provided the Best Learning Environment for Medical Students
  • Dr Ben Brockway, Mr John Matheson, and Associate Professor Gerry Wilkins Commendation to Senior Staff for Teaching
  • Dr Wendy Busby Senior Staff Award for Quality in Teaching

Dunedin School of Medicine recognises top teachers (Otago Bulletin)

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Faculty of Dentistry

Dental conference and dental research prizes

The Sir John Walsh Research Institute recently hosted the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Division. The meeting was a great success with over 180 delegates from over a dozen countries.

Three Faculty of Dentistry staff and students won awards at the conference. Third-year dental student Danyon Graham won the Junior Section of the Colgate Poster Competition. Danyon won a travel grant to enable him to enter the Hatton Poster Competition at the General Session of the IADR in Seoul, in 2016.

Dr Jonathan Broadbent won the Investigator Award in Preventive and Community Dentistry, and Professor Mauro Farella won the Alan Docking Award. This is the highest award by the ANZ Division and recognises outstanding scientific achievement in the field of dental research.

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Otago School of Medical Sciences


Department of Anatomy

Around 200 people attended the Department's Thanksgiving Service held recently in Dunedin. The service paid tribute to those people who have so generously donated their body to the Department, and also acknowledged and thanked family members who supported their loved one's wish to donate their body. The main address was given by Mr Alastair Hepburn, consultant Urologist at Dunedin Hospital. He spoke of his time learning anatomy as a young Otago medical student, and as a postgraduate student studying for his Fellowship exams with the Royal College of Surgeons. Mr Hepburn recently returned to the Department to learn and perfect a new technique which he has since used successfully in the operating theatre. Tribute messages to donors written by their families were read by students during the service, and students also read their own words of thanks and appreciation.

Thanksgiving Service (Department of Anatomy)

Dr Jo-Ann Stanton
Dr Jo-Ann Stanton.

A Smart Ideas research programme led by Dr Jo-Ann Stanton has been awarded NZ$999,999 over two years by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The programme aims to develop a revolutionary method to extract genetic material for analysis using point-of-care diagnostics.

Following on from the development and release of the Freedom4 PCR device in 2014, Dr Stanton and her team are developing a technique where DNA or RNA nucleic acid samples can be extracted for rapid on-the-spot diagnostics.

Innovative Otago research supported in science investment round (Otago press release)
Government funding for innovative research (Department of Anatomy)

Research undertaken by PhD student Karen Greig and a team of scientists from the University of Otago presents the first complete ancient mitochondrial genome sequence from New Zealand's oldest type of dog, the extinct kuri. DNA analysis of 14 kuri teeth excavated from Wairau Bar in Marlborough have shown a genetic link to modern dogs in Southeast Asia. This research has recently been published in PLOS ONE.

Complete Mitochondrial Genomes of New Zealand’s First Dogs (PLOS ONE)
Ancient DNA Shows Links to Indonesia (Department of Anatomy)

Congratulations to Nikita Potemkin who won the OMSRS Science Writing Prize at the recent Otago Medical School Research Society meeting. Nikita is studying for a master's degree in neuroscience and is co-supervised by Dr Joanna Williams and Professor Warren Tate (Biochemistry). Nikita's paper was entitled Helping the fight against Alzheimer's disease: Beating the bullies, which is based on his master's research project.

Master's Student Wins Writing Prize (Department of Anatomy)

Congratulations to our postgraduate students who won awards at recent research conference. PhD student Papi Gustafson was awarded the New Zealand Society of Endocrinology MediRay Student Speaker Prize for her presentation on the role of prolactin in the suppression of the stress response in pregnancy and lactation at the Queenstown Research Week. PhD student Joon Kim was awarded the Hubbard Prize for Excellence in Studies Towards a PhD, at Queenstown Research Week. His presentation was titled In vivo electrophysiological evidence demonstrating the anti-opioid effect of the neuropeptide FF system. MSc student Eloise Williams won the neuroendocrinology Australasia Student Poster Prize at the Queenstown Research Week. Her poster concerned changes in the hypothalamic control of prolactin secretion during pregnancy and lactation. And PhD student Danielle Tranter attended the 18th International Symposium on Chromaffin Cell Biology in Cairns, where her abstract was selected for an oral presentation with an accompanying travel award. She received the added kudos of having the award presented by Erwin Neher, a Nobel laureate.

Congratulations to Dr Brad Hurren who won the Most Inclusive Teacher Award at the OUSA awards night. Voted on by the students, the inclusive teaching award "recognises excellence in inclusive teaching and a commitment to understanding disability as a human rights issue, thus enriching the Otago experience for students who have a disability, impairment or medical condition, and honours a university staff member whose teaching and actions exemplify the ideas of inclusivity and advances equity and opportunities for all students". Well done Brad.

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Department of Biochemistry

Dr Stephanie Hughes
Dr Stephanie Hughes.

Dr Stephanie Hughes' research is the major beneficiary of the Cure Kids / All Blacks Rugby World Cup supporters song Team Ball Player Thing, and it's mentioned in the skit that is part of the long version video. This has led to a bit of extra coverage in the press as well.

Team Ball Player Thing - full skit and song (YouTube)

The other really major news is Associate Professor Peter Dearden's Lab-in-a-Box, which was launched at Kaikorai School last week and received a good deal of media attention—so far Radio New Zealand, Dunedin TV, and the ODT have had features, but TV ONE and TV3 were also in attendance. Peter was also awarded NZ$1 million from MBIE for phase two of his selective insecticides work, so it's been an exciting, and no doubt exhausting, time for him.

'Lab in a box' takes science to the people (ONE News)
Lab-in-a-Box takes science to rural NZ (Radio NZ)
Mobile laboratory hits the road (Dunedin TV)
Portable laboratory one out of the box (ODT)
Lab-in-a-Box website

Dr Wayne Patrick and Matilda Newton were featured on Our Changing World a couple of weeks ago, talking about enzyme engineering, and Dr Peter Mace was on Dunedin TV and in the NZ Herald talking about his work on tribbles.

Rethinking enzyme evolution (Radio NZ)
Nightly interview: Peter Mace (Dunedin TV)
Kiwi scientist unlocks secrets of troublesome protein (NZ Herald)

Conferences have gone well also, with students Tom Wiggins and Danni Maddock having poster successes (a win and an honourable mention respectively) at QMB; Dearden Lab ARF Charlotte Pushparajan winning the poster award at the BioProcessing Network conference at Te Papa, and student Ben Peters winning Best Student Presentation from the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists at ComBio.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Six researchers receive University of Otago research grants

Congratulations to the six staff of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology who have been successful in obtaining University of Otago Research Grants for the 2015–2016 year: Associate Professor Keith Ireton, Dr James Ussher, Associate Professor Alex McLellan, Dr Lyn Wise, Professor Greg Cook, and Dr Mihnea Bostina.

Dr Michelle McConnell in October issue of Country-Wide magazine

Dr Michelle McConnell
Dr Michelle McConnell.

Dr Michelle McConnell's research has been featured in the latest issue of farming magazine Country-Wide.

She discusses a project which aims to identify and investigate specific proteins and bio-actives in the whey and milk fat components of sheep's milk.

The project team is looking at how sheep's milk might stimulate the human immune system, as well as other opportunities to extract greater commercial value from sheep's milk.

Dr Ros Kemp winner of prestigious Association for Women in the Sciences award

Dr Ros Kemp has been named as this year's winner of the Association for Women in the Sciences (AWIS) Miriam Dell Award, for her work inspiring female immunologists across Australasia.

Ros was recognised with the Award for her work with students and for furthering the goals of the Women's Initiative of the Australasian Society for Immunology.

Dr Htin Aung receives New Zealand-ASEAN Award

Dr Htin Aung, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cook Lab, has been awarded a New Zealand–ASEAN Award for his work in bringing New Zealand and his home country closer together. He is one of 40 people to be honoured by the New Zealand Government for significantly contributing to relationships with the Southeast Asia region.

Associate Professor Peter Fineran honoured with award at Queenstown Research Week

Associate Professor Peter Fineran is one of two University of Otago researchers to have received national awards at the recent Queenstown Research Week. Peter was presented with the NZ$4,000 ThermoFisher Scientific Awards, reflecting research excellence using molecular-based techniques that has been published in international journals.

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Department of Physiology

Physiology research in the news

Professor Allan Herbison was recently interviewed by Radio NZ. His research which has recently been published in PNAS was in the ODT recently.

The brain and fertility: Kisspeptins (Radio NZ)
Fertility 'switch' in brain (ODT)

Dr Daryl Schwenke, regarding his Heart Foundation small project grant, was in the ODT recently.

Hormone 'magic' heart beat away (ODT)


The Department would like to congratulate Dr Phil Heyward and Dr Alex Tups, winners of the 2015 Otago Innovation Proof of Concept grant, to work on a nutraceutical that could help type II diabetes patients regulate their blood sugar levels better.

Otago researchers set to develop new diabetes treatment (Otago media release)

Dr Matt Bevin was presented with an OUSA Teaching Award at the ceremony on 23 October. He was one of the top 10 teachers nominated in the whole University. Dr Rajesh Katare was also nominated for his PHSL 232 Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology teaching. Dr John Egbuji (Teaching Fellow) was awarded Best Tutor for ELM3 at the Med Teaching Awards.

Dr Rebecca Campbell has been awarded the OUSA Health Sciences Division Supervisor of the Year. Rebecca was presented with the award at a ceremony at the Staff Club on 24 August.

Prizes at Queenstown Research Week in August:

  • Adam Ware (PhD student) who won the PSNZ Poster Prize at Medical Sciences Congress
  • At the World Congress on Neurohypophysial Hormones conference in Queenstown, PhD students Aaron Korpal won one of the two Student Poster Presentation Prizes, and Xander Seymour’s abstract was selected for oral presentation in the Young Investigators' Symposium

Safina Gadeock (PhD student) who won the best poster prize at the Dunedin School of Medicine Postgraduate Symposium.

Congratulations to the following people who have been awarded UORG funding (associate investigators in brackets):

  • Associate Professor Ruth Empson
  • Dr Martin Fronius (Associate Professor Fiona McDonald, Associate Professor Ivan Sammut, Professor Rob Walker)
  • Dr Alex Tups (Dr Mohammed Rizwan)

Congratulations to Joe Zhang and Thrishila Parshu Ram, who have completed their PhD and MSc respectively.

We also had 15 staff and postgraduate students take part in the full, half, and quarter marathon events in the Dunedin Marathon on 13 September. It was a great event to be a part of.

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School of Pharmacy

Congratulations to Paulina Guzman and May Mah who have successfully completed the PhD programme.

Congratulations to Dr Prasad Nishtala was a 2015 OUSA Supervisor Finalist of the Year Award for Health Sciences.

A group of our undergraduate students attended the 2015 14th IPSF Asia Pacific Pharmaceutical Symposium in Thailand. They participated in workshops, symposia, and team building exercises. Another group of senior students travelled to Hyderabad, India to attend the International Pharmaceutical Students' Federation World Congress 2015. A great experience for all involved.

Otago Pharmacy students at the IPSF world congress in Hyderabad, India
Otago Pharmacy students at the IPSF world congress in Hyderabad, India

The School's fourth-year students had opportunity to present their year's research during a symposium held over one-and-a-half-days recently. The symposium highlights a year's work on research projects, with presentations ranging from Your mum was right, cabbage is actually good for you! Why isothiocyanates are good, to Health history for pharmacy students, and Antibiotic use in the Cook Islands—which included field work in the South Pacific.

This year also saw the first cohort of honours students presenting their work—with presentations on Medicines use amongst people with diabetes, pH responsive delivery of vaccines, and Optimising the use of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women and their infants.

BPharm(Hons) (PHCY 480) student prizes

  • Nalini Ganaeswaren Best Oral Presentation ('Drug delivery to the lung – the influence of lung surfactants on dissolution of drugs')
  • Isabelle Kuan Best Oral Presentation runner-up ('Model-based estimation of glomerular filtration rate')

Prizes to fourth-year elective (PHCY 470) students

  • Valerie Lim, Nicole Seah, Nichelle Tong, and Kerin Tan Best Oral Presentation ('The implications of Phsychoactive Substances Act 2013')
  • Georgia Hughson, Esther Oh, Laurelle Lock, Marina Awadalla, Simon Chittock, and Kim Ngo Best Oral Presentation runners-up ('Why Pharmacy?')
  • Duncan McGill, James Nethercott, Tim Tomas, and Mena Alsaffar Best Poster Presentation ('Antibiotic use in the Cook Islands')
  • Pink Cheok, Ching-Wen Hu, Khairal Issaf Ramlan, Siti Hannah, Shariah Abd Hakim Best Poster Presentation runners-up ('Screening two New Zealand plants for antimicrobial properties (antibacterial and antifungal)')

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School of Physiotherapy

Conference success

A number of Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research (CHARR) staff and graduate students have achieved success at recent conferences. Congratulations to:

Priya Kannan, who was awarded Best new researcher at Connect Physiotherapy Conference 2015, hosted by the Australian Physiotherapy Association at Gold Coast Australia for her paper on Effects of a treadmill-based exercise intervention on symptoms associated with primary dysmenorrhea: a randomized controlled trial. Priya was supported to attend this conference by Health Sciences Divisional Funding.

Chris Higgs received Best Oral Presentation for New and Emerging Researcher at the AFRM/NZ Rehabilitation Association combined Rehabilitation Meeting 2015 for his paper Clinical benefits from a community-based rehabilitation programme for adults with diabetes/pre-diabetes. This paper presents Chris' master's research based on the School of Physiotherapy's Community Exercise Class.

Community based engagement: Dunedin Community Exercise Programme

Lizhou Liu was awarded an AMS Poster Award at the recent International Scientific Acupuncture and Meridian Symposium (iSAMS) 2015: Integrated Medicine: Integrating Science, Practice, and Research conference. Her paper was entitled Developing STRICTA to improve the quality of reporting on acupuncture.

Grant success

Congratulations to the following:

  • Dr Cathy Chapple, UORG funding for her project entitled Frequency of manual therapy treatment for knee osteoarthritis
  • Dr Gisela Sole, NZMPA research award for her project entitled A neuroscience approach to pain management for patients with rotator cuff syndrome: a feasibility study and case series
  • Professor John Sullivan, UORG funding for his project entitled What is the long-term impact of sports concussions on the brain health of former community (amateur) rugby players?

Summer studentships

The School looks forward to hosting three students throughout the Summer of 2015–16.  The students will be working on the following projects, under supervision:

  • Witana Petley (Supervised by Professor John Sullivan and Katrina Bryant): He Tapu te Upoko. Young Māori sports persons and the importance of brain health in regards to concussion (Brain Injury): Development of a health promotion resource and implementation strategy
  • Sasha Wong (Supervised by Dr Prasath Jayakaran and Professor Leigh Hale): Physical activity levels and exercise self-efficacy of people with hip or knee osteoarthritis
  • Eleanor Wood (Supervised by Dr Ram Mani): Sedentary Behaviour among staff at the University of Otago

CHARR 2nd Annual Research Week 23 –27 November

The Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research will be hosting its Second Annual Research Week. Events include a graduate research conference, and symposiums of physical activity, healthy ageing, clinical biomechanics, and manual therapy. There will also be a morning event for emerging researchers.

CHARR 2nd Annual Research Week

Physiotherapy students raise funds for Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust

Physiotherapy students and Professor Leigh Hale with a cheque for the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust
Presentation of a cheque to the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust by the Physiotherapy Students Association. L to R: Sean Dalton (Treasurer), Thomas (Teej) Barnsley (President), Professor Leigh Hale (Dean of the School of Physiotherapy), Mark Shirley (Physiotherapist and member of the Trust).

The Physiotherapy Students' Association Executive organised two student-run fundraising events coinciding with World Physiotherapy Day, to raise funds for the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust. Approximately 50 students volunteered their time for each event, where they provided short sessions (staff supervised) of relaxation massage to members of the wider university community.

Students appreciate the importance of the Therapeutic Pool within the community—both for their own training and for use by members of the public.

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University of Otago, Wellington

Deputy Dean appointed

In October Dr Diane Kenwright took up the role of Deputy Dean of the University of Otago, Wellington (UOW). She has been with UOW since 1996, first in Pathology, then O&G, and then back as Head of Department of Pathology.

"I am honoured and excited to take up the role of Deputy Dean. It's an opportunity to help departments in UOW connect with each other and our wider Wellington community. I see us very much as part of the innovative, participatory and creative culture of Wellington," says Diane.

"I like to build connections between people. There are more and more opportunities for researchers in different groups / departments to work together and I’d like to encourage those connections and grow them, help to build on our teaching strengths by finding synergies together," she says.

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Other news

Strong anti-bullying stance taken

The Division continues to be strongly committed to ensuring safe learning environments for its students and takes an uncompromising anti-bullying stance. An editorial on this subject, authored by Otago academics, has been published in the latest edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The paper calls for an honest appraisal of the problem of bullying and harassment, the safe provision of support for students and learners, and measures to ensure positive learning environments. The authors also place responsibility on institutions to develop top-down initiatives to ensure those safe learning environments.

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Otago research strengths highlighted

The Division of Health Sciences is undertaking a number of activities to increase the profile of our research strengths.

Our research forum, recently held in Wellington, focused on cancer (Otago Spotlight Series: Cancer Research). Very positive feedback has been received by invited guests, including funders, policymakers, clinicians, research institutions, and community and government agencies.

We are also creating websites to promote our research strengths. The websites work as directories to show the volume and depth of research in a particular field.

Our intention is that both external and internal visitors will find the websites useful; to explore prospective opportunities and to appreciate the value of research conducted at Otago.

Cancer Research at Otago
Public Health Research at Otago

If you have additions or updates for these sites please contact Wendy Houliston:


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Inaugural Pharmacoepidemiology Research Network Symposium: Drug safety monitoring and research: past, current, and future

Wednesday, 25 November 2015, St Margaret's College

It is 50 years since the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring was established in New Zealand. The Pharmacoepidemiology Research Network is hosting a Symposium to mark this occasion and to provide an opportunity for researchers and others with an interest in drug safety and utilisation to present and discuss recent, current, and future work.

Introductory speakers include Professor Sir David Skegg (President of the Royal Society 2012–2015), Dr Ralph Edwards (former Director of the WHO Uppsala Monitoring Centre), and Dr Michael Tatley (Director of the New Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre). Other speakers will discuss a broad range of topics and related methodological issues.

Throughout the Symposium there will be opportunities to exchange ideas, and the day will conclude with a panel discussion which focuses on future directions for drug safety research in New Zealand.

To register, please contact Matt Foster for a registration form:


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International Toxicology Symposium at Otago

Professor Rhonda J Rosengren received funding from OSMS Dean's Strategic Funds to facilitate an International Toxicology Symposium at the University of Otago in November.

The aim of the symposium is to build a toxicology research cluster encompassing departments from the Otago School of Medical Sciences, the greater Division of Health Sciences, the Sciences and Humanities divisions, as well as internationally leading toxicologists, including specialists from Texas A&M, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Arizona.

Toxicology Symposium website

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The 20th Public Health Summer School

1–19 February 2016, University of Otago, Wellington

All Health Sciences staff are invited to take a look at the programme for this popular event, hosted by the Department of Public Health, UOW. From social epidemiology to social media, there are courses for everyone as we celebrate the 20th year of the Public Health Summer School. Each of the 33 courses is 1–3 days long, and hosted at the University of Otago, Wellington.

University of Otago staff and students are eligible for a 50% reduction in course fees, plus an additional 25% discount is available to early birds who register and pay before 18 December 2015.

Public Health Summer School website

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ScienceTeller 2015: Sex and Science!

30 October–1 November 2015, College of Education Auditorium

Dan Savage, keynote speaker at ScienceTeller 2015
Dan Savage.

A three-day celebration of Sex and Science! Featuring America's most popular sex advice columnist Dan Savage as the keynote speaker (tonight), together with performances from critically-acclaimed Otago entertainment groups Improsaurus and Sexytet.

The event consists of short talks by University of Otago researchers, covering a wide range of topics from three central themes:

  • Weird Sex in the Animal Kingdom
  • Gay, Straight and In-Between: The Science of Sexual Orientation
  • Sex in Otago

There is something for everyone! The event is free and open to University students, staff, and the general public. Contains adult content.

PS: Got a sex question you're too scared to ask anyone else? Submit it anonymously to Dan via our website!

ScienceTeller website

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Translational Research Grant

The translation of research into products and services to benefit society is one of the aims of the Division of Health Sciences. This grant is an initiative to assist researchers in the pursuit of research which translates into societal benefits.

Grant details:

  • NZ$50,000 (no overheads) or, if the selected project is eligible for seed funding, the value will be up to NZ$75,000 (no overheads)
  • All academic research staff in the Division are eligible to apply
  • The grant is to be used by the successful applicant(s) to "prove the concept"
  • Otago Innovation Ltd will work closely with successful applicants to plan and carry out research activities which will result in the proof of concept
  • The translational research aims to generate intellectual property and result in a patent application
  • Closing date: 9am Monday, 23 November 2015

Further information about the Translational Research Grant

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Workshop on accessing and assessing patents and freedom to operate (FTO)

2pm–3.30pm Thursday, 5 November 2015, Room 122/123, Hunter Centre

This workshop, facilitated by Garth Hendry (Registered Patent Attorney – Australia / New Zealand) will be of benefit to those who are intending to apply for the Translational Research Grant.

Please register your interest by email (links are available for interested staff at UOC and UOW):


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Soft-launch for online postgraduate research opportunities database

Health Sciences Postgraduate Research Opportunities Database Screenshot
A screenshot of the new database, as implemented on the Division of Health Sciences website.

Two weeks ago, the Division of Health Sciences soft-launched an online postgraduate opportunities database. It's designed to eventually integrate with the websites of all schools and departments. For example, it has also been soft-launched on the Dunedin School of Medicine website—where by default it only shows listings from that School:

Advantages of this system

  • Prospective students can search for opportunities by keyword, qualification, host campus, faculty or school, department, supervisor, available via distance, and/or their own academic background (for example, some Health Sciences research opportunities are suitable to students with Humanities backgrounds)
  • Listings can automatically appear on all relevant websites (research group, department, school or faculty, division)
  • All listings are extremely search engine-friendly
  • If the system works well for Health Sciences it can be implemented University-wide—potentially exposing your research opportunities to many more prospective students

Reason for a soft launch

  • To solicit more listings, so the database is more comprehensive before we promote it widely
  • To allow us to quietly address any issues
  • To receive your feedback

How to provide feedback

Please email your feedback to:

How to submit listings

We are eagerly accepting listings from throughout the Division. Currently, these can be submitted via the following secure form (about which we would also value your feedback):

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