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Friday 2 November 2018 4:00pm

PVC's welcome

Professor Paul Brunton image
Professor Paul Brunton.

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Earlier this week I had the privilege of being invited to share breakfast with the Pacific team here in the division. It was a wonderful occasion and it reminded me of the importance of sharing, working as a team and the value and strength of a shared vision.

This in turn has made me think about recent events and the effect they have had on our professional staff and the new post SSR world in which we now live. Firstly I must acknowledge that it's been a difficult year for our professional staff. As things settle down it's important that we support each other as we find our way around the new structures that have been put in place and not lose sight of our shared vision.

As we approach the end of the academic year, it's important to celebrate the success of all our students as their success is our success. I look forward to seeing you all at graduation events in December.

Our research successes continue and I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend our divisional research forum in Wellington and hear about the excellent research we have. I particularly enjoyed seeing our young researchers doing so well. The recent awards that more established colleagues have been successful in further remind me of our strength in research.

As this is the last Pulse of 2018 I would like to end by thanking everyone for their contribution to the division this year and look forward to seeing you all in 2019 refreshed from some time away.

Professor Paul Brunton
Division of Health Sciences

General news

Peter Crampton celebration

Peter Crampton and portrait image

Colleagues, family and friends of Professor Peter Crampton gathered recently to celebrate his contribution as Dean of the Otago Medical School and as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Health Sciences – and to witness the unveiling of his portrait which will be hung in the Barnett lecture theatre.
Peter Crampton's portrait unveil (Otago Bulletin)

Professor Barry Taylor has been appointed Acting Dean of the Otago Medical School, alongside his position of Dean of the Dunedin School of Medicine.

Chaffer medal to Tony Blakely

Tony Blakely image

Professor Tony Blakely, University of Otago, Wellington, is the recipient of the 2018 Chaffer Medal for distinguished performance in health research. He will receive the award in Dunedin on Friday 7 December when he will deliver a special Grand Round presentation in the Barnett Lecture Theatre at 1pm.

Read more in Otago Bulletin:
Professor Tony Blakely wins 2018 Chaffer Medal

Communications and marketing teams

Expert communication services and marketing services are embedded in the Division of Health Sciences, as part of university-wide changes to the External Engagement Division made in the Support Services Review.

The communication advisers and marketing advisers have a wealth of experience in their fields and work proactively to promote the Division's work and its people to internal and external audiences.

To find out more about the two teams, who they are, what they do, and how to contact them visit:

Bachelor of Health Sciences degree performing strongly

The Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHealSc) has had a strong first year. The BHealSc's four majors (Community Health Care, Māori Health, Pacific and Global Health, and Public Health) are designed to provide students with a range of skills and knowledge that will prepare them for roles in the ever-evolving health workforce alongside other health professionals or to carry on into postgraduate study. Students have been extremely enthusiastic about the new degree and loved the mix of new and existing papers that make up the majors. There are currently 76 students enrolled in the degree, with strong interest already from new students to Otago for next year. We are looking forward to 2019 and seeing the first graduates from the majors cross the stage at the end of the year!

Bachelor Health scinces group photo image 650
The inaugural Pacific Health 201 class celebrate their final talanoa (conversation) class with Centre for Pacific Health staff, and the Director of the Bachelor of Health Science.

NZ Research Honours

The Division of Health Sciences featured prominently in the New Zealand Research Honours awarded recently.

The honours are awarded annually by the Royal Society Te Apārangi to celebrate the achievements of New Zealand researchers, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Richard Blaikie says it is a significant achievement to have six researchers from the University of Otago honoured among the 24 award recipients.

We congratulate:

  • Dr Helen Taylor 2018 Callaghan Medal: Dr Taylor has been awarded the Callaghan Medal for outstanding contribution to science communication and raising public awareness of the value of science to human progress.
  • Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama 2018 Metge Medal: Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama has been awarded the Metge Medal for her influence on indigenous health education.
  • Professor Brett Delahunt 2018 Hercus Medal: Professor Brett Delahunt ONZM, has been awarded the Hercus Medal for his research on prostate and kidney cancer.
  • Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith 2018 Mason Durie Medal: Professor Matisoo-Smith has been awarded the Mason Durie Medal for her ground-breaking work that has, through strong relationships with New Zealand's indigenous people, reshaped our understanding of the last great human migration into the Pacific.

Six Otago researchers recognised in NZ research honours (media release)

Professor Stephen Robertson elected Fellow

Stephen Robertson thumbnailCongratulations to Professor Stephen Robertson, Department of Women's and Children's Health, who has been elected as Fellow to the Academy of the Royal Society Te Apārangi for distinction in research, scholarship and advancement of knowledge.

In announcing the Fellowship, the Academy said:

“Professor Stephen Robertson is a gifted clinician-scientist who has built an outstanding scientific track record in studying the genetic determinants of congenital malformations, particularly in children. He is the Curekids Professor of Paediatric Genetics at the University of Otago. He has a particular research interest in a group of disorders called the filaminopathies, which are caused by mutations in a family of genes encoding for proteins called filamins.

"Professor Robertson publishes regularly in top scientific journals, is involved in leadership of multiple national and international research consortia and related academic roles and is a passionate communicator about the potential benefits of widespread genetic testing. He received the Liley Medal from the Health Research Council in 2010 for his research excellence. “

Read more in the Royal Society's website:
Centenary cohort of Fellows announced

Carl Smith Medal

Sian HalcrowAssociate Professor Siân Halcrow, Department of Anatomy, has been selected as the latest recipient of the University of Otago's Carl Smith Medal. Associate Professor Halcrow's research focuses on infant and childhood health and disease in prehistoric Southeast Asia and America.

More about the award:

Introductory Biostatistics for Clinical Researchers

This course is a fun introduction to the appropriate application and interpretation of biostatistical concepts for people working in clinical research with no formal statistical training.

The focus will not be on carrying out analyses, but rather on understanding the appropriate use of statistical methods, the implications when underlying assumptions are not met, and how to interpret statistical results. Course material will be presented through examples, and all statistical analyses will be performed by the course instructors. There are no software requirements.

Date: 9am – 4:30pm 15-16 November
Venue: Room 033 Adams Building 18 Frederick St
Course fees apply

Register via our web page: or contact

For questions please contact Associate Professor Robin Turner:

Rising research stars

Five staff from the Division of Health Sciences were among six researchers to be recognised through the University's annual 'Early Career Awards for Distinction in Research' this year.

The awards went to: Dr Rosie Brown (Department of Anatomy), Dr Allan Gamble (School of Pharmacy), Dr Tracy Melzer (Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch), Dr Robert Odolinski (School of Surveying), Dr Michael Pankhurst (Department of Anatomy) and Dr Daniel Ribeiro (School of Physiotherapy).

Read more in Bulletin:
Recognition for rising research stars

Translational Research Grant - closing 7 November

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.

Visit our web page for more information:
Translational Research Grant

New topics to entice Summer School attendees

Sixteen new topics are included in the 2019 Public Health Summer School, University of Otago, Wellington. Highlights include the southern hemisphere launch of the World Health Organization's International Housing and Health Guidelines, a symposium on drug policy challenges and a series of evening public lectures by international guests in conjunction with the 150th anniversary. Early bird discounts are available for registrations before 20 December.

For more information, visit our website:
Public Health Summer School

Clinical Educator Programme

The Clinical Educator Programme (CEP), an on-line resource created by the University of Otago, was successfully launched in July 2018. The CEP is an interactive resource which offers practical advice to support university staff and clinical staff in their various teaching roles.

The CEP comprises interactive 'bite sized' topics grouped into modules, but which can also be seen as stand alone. Depending upon your personal professional requirements, goals and interests you may wish to access one, some or all of the modules and topics. Each module has some associated activities: i.e. an article to read, a video to watch and comment upon, a brief quiz etc. It is estimated that each activity will take about 30 minutes to complete.

The CEP, designed in conjunction with the University's Higher Education and Development Centre, offers a learning experience that is realistic and can be applied to your teaching context; it is activity-based and accounts for the busy nature of your professional and personal life. In due course we hope that you may be able to accumulate topics selected from CEP and use them as part of your evidence of continuing professional development for your professional body.

Register for the Clinical Educator Programme (CEP website)

Clinical Education Programme team members
From left: Peter Gallagher (inset), Tehmina Gladmin, Jon Cornwall, Joy Rudland, Anthony Ali and Megan Anakin from the University of Otago Medical School Education Unit.

Otago Spotlight Series: Infectious Disease Research presentations

Infectious disease virus particlesIf you were unable to join us in Wellington on the day, or want to have another look, videos of our presenters from our September forum are now available on our forum webpage:
2018 Otago Spotlight Series: Infectious Disease Research video presentations

Congratulations to our student poster competition prizewinners:
Early immune response research wins Otago Spotlight Award

And if you haven't already checked it out, do visit our Infectious Disease Research at Otago website

Dunedin School of Medicine

2018 Dunedin School of Medicine Teaching Awards

Among those receiving awards were, from left: Associate Professor Yoram Barak and Ms Anita Admiraal from the Department of Psychological Medicine (winners of the Departmental Teaching Award); Kirsty Murrell-McMillan (Regional Centre Teaching Award); Dr Kristin Kenrick from the Department of General Practice and Rural Health (Departmental Teaching Award); Dr Susan Jack from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine (Departmental Teaching Award); and Deneille Bligh (Trainee intern award for excellence in teaching).

The calibre of teaching staff was celebrated at the 2018 Dunedin School of Medicine Teaching Awards ceremony on 12 September. The awards, for the Advanced Learning in Medicine (ALM) programme, aim to raise the profile of teaching in ALM at DSM and to recognise and celebrate outstanding teaching contributions made by staff in the ALM years of the MB ChB programme at DSM.

Eighteen awards were presented. Some are based on nominations from fourth- and fifth-year medical students and this year saw the addition of departmental awards, nominated by Heads of Department.

Read more:

Top Tutor – OUSA Teaching Excellence Awards 2018

Althea Gamble thumbnailCongratulations to Dr Althea (Alfie) Gamble Blakey who won the OUSA 2018 Teaching Excellence Award for Top Tutor in the Division of Health Sciences.

Dr Gamble Blakey teaches on the Early Learning in Medicine Programme, on the CAPLE (Creating a Positive Learning Environment) project which is running in the DHB and on the TEACUP (Transgender EducAtion Community of Practice) project which is about educating health science undergraduate students.

Medical student wins Woolf Fisher Scholarship to study at Cambridge

Gabrielle Budd 24 year old Gabrielle Budd, studying medicine at the University of Otago is among three young New Zealanders to be awarded a Woolf Fisher Scholarship to study at Cambridge University.

The estimated value of each Woolf Fisher Scholarship, which covers the study and living costs at Cambridge, is about $300,000—making it one of the most generous scholarships available to New Zealand students.

Gabrielle Budd, who is completing her MBChB at the University of Otago, aims to become a world leader in medical research, starting with her plans to complete a PhD in Biological Science at Cambridge University's Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Gabrielle says she wants to work towards creating new treatments and technology to help patients.

“I have always been fascinated by the human immune system, and in the perpetual arms race between humans and microbial pathogens,” she says. “The MRC laboratory at Cambridge University produces leading research in cell autonomous immunity and innate defences against bacterial infection…Infectious disease and immunity is a field I plan to continue to study after my doctorate has been completed, as a scientist and a clinician.”

Read more in the Otago Daily Times:
Rich study prizes for two Otago students

Otago Global Health Institute (OGHI) Conference

Otago Global Health Institute (OGHI) conference is being held in Dunedin, 27 and 28 November. The 2018 theme is 'Sustainable Development in Global Health'. The University of Otago became the first New Zealand university to sign the international SDG Accord pursuing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Our keynote speaker is Professor Ken Brown – a global expert in human nutrition from University of California (Davis) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The conference is approaching fast and we are delighted to share the draft programme:
OGHI draft programme 2018

Our conference also dovetails with:

Society of Nephrology meeting

6 – 8 December 2018

A meeting of the Kidney in Health and Disease Network, and the Renal Scientists Group of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.
Nephrology: from the Laboratory to the Clinic (Events calendar listing)

Faculty of Dentistry

Oral Health Therapist of the Year

Samuel Carrington imageSamuel Carrington from the Faculty of Dentistry has been voted the inaugural Oral Health Therapist of the Year by members of both the NZ Dental Hygienists' Association and the NZ Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association.

A Professional Practice Fellow in the Discipline of Oral Health, Samuel believes oral health therapists are under-utilised in the public and private sectors and that much more can be done to better the oral health of Aotearoa.

He says, “It is great to be recognised by my peers. Oral health therapy is a fairly new scope of practice, but a fast emerging one within Aotearoa. I am fortunate I get to work with the future of oral health therapists at the Faculty of Dentistry. Seeing Bachelor of Oral Health students get the passion for the oral health therapists' skillset and knowing they can make a difference to the oral health of all ages is truly rewarding”.

Samuel teaches over all three years of the Bachelor of Oral Health programme and holds the Faculty of Dentistry Deputy Associate Dean (Māori) role as well as the Pacific Island student support representative.

Hosted lunches acknowledge students

Dentistry students enjoy a pizza lunch
Bachelor of Oral Health second-year students enjoy their pizza lunch.

The Faculty of Dentistry recently hosted lunches to acknowledge two groups of students.

International dental students gathered together over lunch to get to know staff involved in international student support. Staff from the Faculty, the Division, and the International Office described their roles in providing support and advice for those negotiating the language, cultures and conventions of New Zealand (and the Otago campus!).

A lunch for second-year Bachelor of Oral Health students recognised this group's successful management of a particularly challenging year. Staff appreciated that the 2018 BOH2 cohort had maintained a positive outlook despite having to wend their way around early starts, timetable mishaps and other out-of-the-ordinary circumstances.

International Association for Dental Research Awards

Congratulations to Dr Carolina Loch who won the Oral Biology Award of the International Association for Dental Research Australia/New Zealand Division at the IADR ANZ Divisional meeting in Perth, Western Australia, 22-25 September. Additionally, Manish Kumar (fifth-year BDS student) was runner-up in the Junior Category of the Colgate IADR ANZ Poster competition, and will be supported to attend next year's IADR General Session in Vancouver, Canada.

Special issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of NZ to celebrate dental research in Aotearoa

The University of Otago is soon to celebrate 150 years as New Zealand's first university. At the same time, Otago's Faculty of Dentistry is moving to a new dental building. To help highlight these important milestones, the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand is inviting scholars to submit manuscripts for a special issue, dedicated to the Faculty of Dentistry, Te Kaupeka Pūniho. The special issue Dental Research in New Zealand: Challenges, Progress, and New Technologies will be published in March 2020. A call for papers for the special issue is now open. The guest editors for the themed issue are Associate Professor in Dental Public Health Jonathan Broadbent and lecturer in Oral Biology Dr Carolina Loch, from the Sir John Walsh Research Institute at the University of Otago's Faculty of Dentistry. Expressions of Interest (EOI) are being sought for papers to be included, with a submission deadline of 12 November 2018. EOIs can be directed to the guest editors at

For more information, please email the guest editors or visit the Royal Society of NZ website

SJWRI Research Day 2018 celebrates our research excellence

Research Day 2018, highlighting the research achievements of the University of Otago's Sir John Walsh Research Institute (SJWRI) and Faculty of Dentistry, was held at the end of August at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Now in its twelfth year, the Institute's annual celebration of research excellence was structured around the emergent themes of Understanding the Oral Health of New Zealanders, New Technologies and Therapeutics, and Evaluating our Teaching, Learning and Practice.

As in previous years, the opening session of Research Day spotlighted one of our areas of research strength as our featured research programme; this year, within the opening theme of Understanding the Oral Health of New Zealanders, our featured programme was Dental Epidemiology and Public Health, led by Professor Murray Thomson. The opening keynote was given by invited speaker Professor Marco Peres, Director of ARCPOH (the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health) at the Adelaide Dental School, who provided an overview of population-based oral health-related studies conducted in Australia and their relevance for surveillance and hypothesis-driven research.

Our New Technologies and Therapeutics theme was headlined by a keynote presentation from invited speaker Professor Paul Cooper of the University of Birmingham, who is currently a Sir Thomas Sidey Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Dentistry. Professor Cooper's presentation explored his research interests in dental tissue regeneration, identifying modifying factors involved in the ability of the dentine-pulp complex to heal itself and developing novel treatment approaches to facilitate these innate regenerative abilities.

The programme for the day also featured a presentation from Dr Young-Chul Kwon, Asia-Pacific Scientific Affairs & Education Manager for 3M Oral Care, providing an update on dental composites with a focus on clinical relevance. The day concluded with presentation of the SJWRI Awards for 2018, and farewell drinks in the ODT Gallery.

Presentation awards were made to the best student oral presentations across the day, as well as the best student and staff poster competition entries. Congratulations to the following award winners:

Student oral presentation awards

First prize: Poppy Horne, DClinDent candidate (Periodontics)
Second prize: Chuen Lin Hong, PGDipComDent candidate
Third prize: Divya Ramanan, DClinDent candidate (Orthodontics)

Poster presentation awards

Student: Hafizi Mohd Ali, DClinDent candidate (Periodontics)
Staff: (2 awards) Christina Gee, Assistant Research Fellow; Dr Jithendra Ratnayake, Assistant Research Fellow

Report from Research Day 2018 (SJWRI website)

SJWRI Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of SJWRI Awards for 2018, which were presented at the conclusion of Research Day. Our Institute Awards celebrate the research achievements of academic and research staff and postgraduate students of the SJWRI and Faculty of Dentistry.

Sir John Walsh Award for Research Excellence

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

Research Supervisor Awards

This award is to celebrate outstanding research supervisors of postgraduate and undergraduate students within the Faculty of Dentistry. Nominations are made via a survey process, whereby students are asked to anonymously nominate outstanding supervisors, with reasons for their nominations.

  • Postgraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Lara Friedlander
  • Undergraduate Research Supervisor Award: Dr Sunyoung Ma

Strategic Research Prize

This award is to acknowledge and promote new research within the Faculty of Dentistry, by supporting a research development initiative by a member of staff or postgraduate student that could make a contribution to the strategic direction of research within the Institute. This year's recipient is Associate Professor Dawn Coates.

Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. To be eligible, the manuscript must have been accepted for publication between 1 January and 31 December 2017. The recipient of this award is Dr Susan Moffat, for the paper Moffat SM, Foster Page LA, Thomson WM. New Zealand's School Dental Service over the decades: Its response to social, political, and economic change, and the effect on oral health inequalities. Frontiers in Public Health 5:177 (2017).

Postgraduate Research Publication Award

This award is to recognise excellence in postgraduate student research by acknowledging the research calibre and effort required to publish in high impact journals in science and dentistry. The publication must have been accepted between 1 January and 31 December 2017, and have been written by a Masters or Doctoral research student. The recipient is DClinDent graduate Azza Al-Ani, for the paper Al-Ani AH, Antoun JS, Thomson WM, Merriman TR, Farella M. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with offspring hypodontia. Journal of Dental Research 96:1014-1019 (2017).

More on our SJWRI Awards and this year's recipients (SJWRI website)

School of Biomedical Sciences

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Malaria breakthrough attracts funding

Associate Professor Bruce Russell is part of a research collaboration that has made a breakthrough in malaria research, leading to an international workshop and conference being held in Dunedin. The conference, fully funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was attended by a diverse group of internationally-renowned malaria specialists from industry, government and academia.

Associate Professor Russell's research group is focusing on the relapsing form of malaria, caused by the pathogenic parasite Plasmodium vivax. Vivax malaria is the most widely distributed and difficult to diagnose form of human malaria. While efforts to develop new drugs and vaccines have been stymied by the lack of an in vitro culture method, the group has developed a way to culture Plasmodium cynomolgi, a near identical parasite found in the blood of wild monkeys in South-east Asia.

Read more in our website:
Malaria breakthrough attracts conference funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

University of Otago Research Grants awarded

Congratulations to our five academics who have been awarded University of Otago Research Grants (UORG) for 2019. All funding is provided from 1 January 2019 through to 31 March 2020.

  • Associate Professor Peter Fineran, $36,838 for Jumbo phage nuclei for anti-viral defence evasion
  • Associate Professor Keith Ireton, $78,872 for Identification of human receptors for internalin proteins of the pathogen listeria monocytogenes
  • Associate Professor Ros Kemp, $41,637 for Reversing T Cell Exhaustion in a Mouse Model for Colorectal Cancer
  • Dr Htin Aung, $38,929 for Development of a rapid and cost-effective point-of-care bovine tuberculosis (bTB) molecular diagnostic
  • Associate Professor Alex McLellan, $59,124 for Auto-induction of anti-cancer T cells to enhance patient safety

Five academic staff members awarded University of Otago Research Grants

Department alumnus Dr Robert Webster publishes 'Flu Hunter: unlocking the secrets of a virus'

Flu Hunter book cover imageDr Robert Webster, a world-renowned virologist and international influenza expert, has published a book focusing on the scientific detective work behind the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Now at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr Webster studied Microbiology at the University of Otago in the 1960s and has continued to maintain links with the department. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ, a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a Member of the US Academy of Sciences. He gave his name to Otago's Webster Centre for Infectious Diseases and Webster Family Chair for Viral Pathogenesis.

Read more in our website:
Department alumnus Dr Robert Webster publishes 'Flu Hunter: unlocking the secrets of a virus'

Department of Physiology

Funding success

Congratulations to the following researchers for their funding success:

Heart Foundation

Physiology had 100% success rate, having been granted $897,000 of the $3.1 million awarded. Grants awarded to: Carol Bussey, Research Fellowship, $127,183 for 2 years, Michelle Munro, Research Fellowship, $241,143 for 3 years, Michelle Munro, Small Project Grant, $14,500, Alison Heather & (Jeff Erickson AI), Project, $194,385, Regis Lamberts & (Pete Jones AI) Project, $149,650.

University of Otago Research Grants

Alison Heather awarded $67,532 for project titled Sex hormone and FSHD: a paradigm shift in therapeutics and Rajesh Katare awarded $40,000 as a grant-in-aid for a project titled Development of a novel therapeutic approach using CRISPR/C2c2 to silence pathological microRNAs in the diabetic heart.

Health Research Council

The following have been invited to submit a full application:
Jeff Erickson, Martin Fronius, Karl Iremonger, Rajesh Katare (two) and Daryl Schwenke.

Academic Promotions

Congratulations to the following on their promotions:

  • Promoted to Associate Professor – Kirk Hamilton, Pete Jones and Alex Tups
  • Promoted to Senior Lecturer above the bar – Martin Fronius
  • Promoted to Senior Research Fellow – Richard Piet
  • Promoted to Assistant Research Fellow beyond the Bar – Tanya Cheung

Postgraduate News

Jason Lew, PhD student, with supervisors Daryl Schwenke and Rajesh Katare, was awarded an exceptional thesis, and has accepted a Postdoc position with Oxford University. We wish him well with his future endeavours.

Prizes and Awards

Queenstown Research Week MedSci Conference – congratulations to the following winners of Physiological Society of NZ Prizes:

  • Honours student poster prize Winner – Asha Mamgain
  • Honours student poster prize runner-up – Jack Smeeton
  • PhD student poster prize runner-up – Shalini Kumar
  • Mary Bullivant oral prize award – Rachel Lund
  • John Hubbard Prize for excellence in PhD – Amelia Power
  • New and Emerging Researcher prize – Elodie Desroziers

Also congratulations to Hypothalamic Neuroscience and Neuroendocrinology Australasia poster prizewinner – Michael Perkinson.

Other news and events

  • Phil Sheard was interviewed on Radio NZ's Our Changing World on Ageing muscles – use them or lose them
  • The Physiology Department is now 'Rainbow Ticked' certified, offering support to staff and students as part of the University of Otago's Queer Friendly Staff Network

International guest

Physiology welcomed international neuroscientist Professor Jennifer Raymond from Stanford University to give the Sir John Eccles Annual Lecture on 17 October 2018.

It has been a wonderful opportunity to have Jennifer here in the Department - thank you for sharing the benefits of your knowledge, energy, and time with us all. At the end of her lecture Jennifer received a pounamu hei matau representing strength, prosperity, abundance, power and safe passage over water. We wish Jennifer safe travels as she returns to the USA.

HoD Physiology Fiona McDonald also shared this Māori proverb signifying the sharing of scientific bonds and collaboration:
"Nāku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi – With your basket and my basket the people will live”

The Sir John Eccles lecture celebrates the strong links between the Nobel Prize winning Neuroscientist Sir John Eccles and the Physiology Department here at the University of Otago. It was here in Dunedin, in Physiology, that Eccles carried out much of the early research that paved the way for his Nobel Prize winning discoveries, including work on the cerebellum.

Ruth Empson, Jennifer Raymond and Fiona McDonald image
From left: Professor Ruth Empson, (Physiology), Professor Jennifer Raymond (Stanford) and Associate Professor Fiona McDonald (HoD, Physiology).

School of Pharmacy

Do you want your blood glucose tested with that?

Pharmacy student doing a blood glucose test with a member of the public image 650
Janis Miller from Dunedin (left) gets a free blood glucose test from University of Otago School of Pharmacy student, Laura Pidcock (right), with Pharmacy School Professional Practice Fellow, Aynsley Peterson looking on.

At the end of September lunch-goers had a chance grab a free blood pressure and blood glucose test along with their sandwich as part of a student-led initiative to mark Pharmacy Awareness Week.

The students, from the University of Otago School of Pharmacy are on the executive of the New Zealand Association of Pharmacy Students (Otago) and organised the tests to increase awareness about the work pharmacists do.

Fourth year student, Nadine King said they set up the testing outside Unichem in the Centre City Mall to encourage people to access services from their local pharmacists.

“Blood pressure and blood glucose levels are both indicative of non-communicable diseases which are easily detectable and can potentially lead to fatal complications if not diagnosed early and treated.

“Pharmacists have the clinical ability to train and provide these testing services to patients as an easily accessible health care practioner.

“They are educated to be able to explain the reasons for high and low levels of these measures, and refer when necessary”, she said.

The students were supervised by a practicing pharmacist from the School of Pharmacy and anyone with questions about their test results was directed to the nearby pharmacy or told to contact their general practitioner.

Pharmacoepidemiology Symposium

21 November 2018

As with previous symposia, this event will provide an opportunity to meet and develop collaborations with colleagues who share an interest in the utilisation and safety of medicines and medical devices. Delegates will include academic researchers, healthcare providers, and colleagues from relevant Ministries and other government-funded agencies.

We are delighted that Professor Irene Petersen, from University College London, will be joining us as the keynote speaker.
Read more on our website:
Pharmacoepidemiology Research Network Symposium

School of Physiotherapy

On September 7, 2018, the School of Physiotherapy helped celebrate World Physiotherapy Day.

This annual international event generates awareness of the contribution that physiotherapists make to society and the positive difference made in the everyday lives of patients and their families.

A group of second and third year Otago students marked the day by volunteering to offer therapeutic massages (for a small fee) to those in the community.

The $520 raised went to ParaFed Otago which offers sporting opportunities to those with physical disabilities.

Sherry Malik and Kelsey Evans 650
From left: Physiotherapy Students' Association President Sherry Malik presents funds raised to Kelsey Evans of ParaFed.

Upcoming events

Southland Campus

The Southland Campus is set to get a new education and research centre. The centre will be a welcome addition and is expected to be operational from February next year.

Read more in the media release:
University of Otago to develop Education Centre at Southland Hospital

University of Otago, Christchurch

New building planned for Christchurch campus

Artist's impression of Christchurch campus new buildingThe University has announced plans to construct a new state-of-the-art building to expand its Christchurch campus. When completed, the six-storey building will house much of the campus' health research facilities. The University aims to complete the new Oxford Terrace building by 2022. It will then redevelop the campus' existing main building.
University of Otago to construct new $150 million building in Christchurch

Remembering Professor David Fergusson

David Fergusson imageFor almost 40 years, Emeritus Professor David Fergusson was director of the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS), a longitudinal study of a cohort of 1265 children born in Christchurch in mid-1977. His research enlightened debate and informed government policy decisions on the controversial, but significant, topics of child sexual abuse, youth drug use and abortion, amongst others. He passed away in early October at age 74. Read about his many achievements in the University's obituary.
Obituary: Emeritus Professor David Fergusson remembered


Suzanne Pitama thumbnailAssociate Professor Suzanne Pitama received the Royal Society of New Zealand's prestigious 2018 Metge Medal for her influence on indigenous health education. Associate Professor Pitama (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whare) is a founding director of the Māori Indigenous Health Institute (MIHI) and an acknowledged leader in developing research capacity and medical education to address indigenous health inequalities.

Dr Tracy Melzer thumbnailDr Tracy Melzer was awarded a University of Otago Early Career Award for Distinction in Research. Dr Melzer uses different brain imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to study neurological conditions such Parkinson's disease.

Christchurch research in the news

University of Otago, Wellington

Magazine spotlight on Philippa Howden-Chapman

Philippa Howden-ChapmanWellington public health researcher Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman has been named NEXT magazine's Woman of the Year for 2018 in recognition of her long-standing campaign to ensure all New Zealanders live in healthy, warm and dry homes.

A Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington, her research has influenced policy including the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act passed in December, and the Warm Up New Zealand programme.

Read more in Otago Bulletin:
Otago's NEXT magazine Woman of the Year

Research news from Wellington campus

Stop the fat stigma

The bias, discrimination and stigma that fat people experience across all aspects of their lives is harming their health, researchers say.
Researchers call for end to fat stigma

Call for primary school education and support for menstrual periods

Primary schools are being urged to educate girls about periods and supply sanitary bins and pads, after research finds almost half of all girls start menstruating before they begin high school.
Education and support for menstrual periods needed at primary school

They're Our Whānau: Māori Perspectives of New Zealand's justice system

A collaborative research project between ActionStation and the University of Otago, Wellington, has gathered Māori perspectives on, and vision for, our justice system. The report, They're Our Whānau, was launched at the university on Wednesday 3 October.

Download the report from ActionStation's homepage

Upcoming UOW Events

9 November: Smokefree 2025 Research Symposium, University of Otago, Wellington. Leading smokefree researchers from ASPIRE2025 and NIHI will provide an update on the latest research on all areas of tobacco control.

19-21 November: The International Conference on Energy and Environment of Residential Buildings is being held at the University of Otago, Wellington, the first time it has been hosted in New Zealand. This year's event will focus on housing sustainability in urban areas.

31 January - 1 February 2019: Cancer Care at a Crossroads Conference, Te Papa, Wellington. This landmark event co-hosted by the University of Otago and the Cancer Society of New Zealand brings together the brightest minds in the field to develop a vision for long-term cancer control specific to the needs of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

11 February - 1 March 2019: Public Health Summer School, Wellington Campus. Highlights include the southern hemisphere launch of the World Health Organization's International Housing and Health Guidelines, a symposium on drug policy challenges and a series of evening public lectures by international guests in conjunction with the 150th anniversary. Early bird discounts are available for registrations before 20 December.

Va'a o Tautai

Pacific International Health Symposium: Strengthening Partnerships for Pacific Health

29 – 30 November 2018, Otago Museum, Dunedin

All those with an interest in Pacific health are strongly encouraged to register for the upcoming symposium via the website:
Pacific International Health Symposium

Funding support from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has provided an opportunity for seventeen Pacific regional staff in key health sector and health education roles to travel to Dunedin to join local delegates at the symposium.

A follow-on event related to TechCamp New Zealand, a two-day workshop on vector-borne disease reduction held in Auckland in January, is being made possible with funding from the US Embassy of New Zealand. Ten TechCamp participants representing six Pacific Island Countries will participate in the symposium as well as attending a special workshop being run by Dr Rebecca Levine, a Senior Research Scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and keynote speaker at the symposium.

The draft programme is now available on the website.

Prime Minister's Supreme Award Winner 2018

Tai Sapoaga thumbnailThe Va'a o Tautai team were delighted to learn that Faumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga had received the Prime Minister's Supreme Award with an Endorsement for Excellence in Supporting Pacific Learners at the 2018 Ako Aotearoa National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards in Wellington on 13 September 2018. A Pacific Celebration was hosted by Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai and her team at the Pacific Islands Centre on Monday 8 October to acknowledge Faumuina for this outstanding achievement.

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Faumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga and Professor Vernon Squire (Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic) second row centre, and Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai (Manager, Pacific Islands Centre), with staff and students at the Pacific Celebration on Monday 8 October.

Acknowledgement for Associate Dean Pacific, School of Biomedical Sciences

Associate Dean Pacific Darryl Schwenke and colleagues thumbnailOn Monday 8 October, Professor Vernon Ward (Dean, Biomedical Sciences), Associate Professor Faumuina Fa'afetai Sopoaga (Associate Dean Pacific, Health Sciences), Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu (Associate Dean Pacific, UOW), Dr Kiki Maoate (Associate Dean Pacific, UOC) and Va' a o Tautai staff joined members of the School of Biomedical Sciences Pacific Strategic Framework Group (PSFG) to acknowledge Associate Professor Daryl Schwenke's appointment to the role of Associate Dean Pacific for the School of Biomedical Sciences.

Daryl is looking forward to the opportunity to engage and support Pacific students in BMS. He is also keen to support and facilitate research and service engagements in the Pacific region related to areas of mutual interests. Daryl is of Samoan descent and is already making inroads into developing work and research connections with the National University in Samoa. Daryl also joins the Takiala Network, the group of senior Pacific leaders in Health Sciences.

Finalists' Dinner 2018

Students in the final semester of their degrees were acknowledged for their efforts at the 2018 Finalists' Dinner held at the University Staff Club on Friday 12 October. The occasion to celebrate our Pacific students as they reach a significant academic milestone is rewarding for the staff who have provided support throughout the students' journeys, and a time for the students and their families to take pride in their achievements.

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Fran Cockerell (Manager, Va'a o Tautai) and Edna Soli (POPO Programme Coordinator) with some of the 2018 finalists.

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