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University appoints leading academic surgeon to new professorial chair

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Tuesday 13 April 2010 2:11pm

Professor John McCall. A leading surgeon and researcher, Professor John McCall, has become the first McKenzie Professor of Clinical Science at the University of Otago.

A 1982 Otago medical graduate and former senior lecturer at the University, Professor McCall recently returned to Dunedin after more than a decade as a transplant and hepatobiliary surgeon in the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit in Auckland. He was a Clinical Professor of Surgery at the University of Auckland.

The new professorial post is supported through an endowment by the F & J McKenzie Charitable Trust. Mr Farquhar McKenzie and Mrs Josephine McKenzie were well-known citizens of Dunedin. Their endowment’s general purpose is to “foster medical and surgical research and teaching through the recruitment and/or retention of clinical academic staff at the Dunedin School of Medicine”.

Announcing the appointment, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says that as a highly respected researcher, teacher and clinician, Professor McCall brings an ideal background to the position.

“Professor McCall has an outstanding reputation as a surgeon, while also being a respected leader in clinical research.

After completing his undergraduate medical degrees, Professor McCall undertook surgical training in Auckland and Dunedin. In 1993, he completed an Otago MD based on his research into immune-related and metabolic aspects of gastrointestinal cancer.

From 1994-1996 he was a Senior Lecturer in Surgery at the Dunedin School of Medicine. He has also held colorectal surgery and liver surgery posts in Australia and was a fellow in liver transplantation surgery at King’s College Hospital, London.

During his time with the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit, Professor McCall helped pioneer split, live donor and paediatric liver transplantation in this country.

His wide-ranging research activities have included clinical and laboratory investigations into colorectal and liver cancers, transplant immunology and nutritional and metabolic interventions in chronic liver disease.

As someone who was born and grew up in the South, Professor McCall says that he is “very happy to come back to Dunedin”.

At Otago, he plans to focus on translational research aimed at improving outcomes for patients with colorectal cancer and on enhancing the University’s clinical trial capabilities in surgery and other areas.

His cancer research will build on his longstanding collaboration with researchers from the University’s Cancer Genetics Laboratory and Departments of Pathology and Medical & Surgical Sciences. This work has previously led to the patenting of a gene-based tool for predicting whether colorectal cancer patients are at high or low risk of tumour recurrence.

“As well as continuing this research, we will also work with other colleagues in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology, and Pathology, to investigate the immune response in colon cancer patients and how this might be harnessed to improve outcomes.”

Professor McCall will teach surgery at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and is convening the professional development course for fourth, fifth and sixth year medical students. He also holds a joint appointment with the Otago District Health Board as a general and hepatobiliary surgeon at Dunedin Hospital.

For more information, contact

Professor John McCall
Surgery Section, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences
Tel 64 3 474 7007 x 8837

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