Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Pacific-relevant health research

Our researchers and groups listed here are working in Pacific health-relevant areas and/or supervising our future Pacific health researchers. They include researchers from throughout the University of Otago.

Meet our Pacific-relevant health researchers

Associate Professor Gillian Abel

Vulnerable populations

Gillian Abel imageDr Gillian Abel's early background was in haematology before changing to public health. She joined the Department of Public Health and General Practice at the University of Otago, Christchurch in 1997 and holds a PhD in public health.

Gillian is expert in mixed methods research using community-based participatory approaches. Her research focuses on vulnerable populations such as sex workers, vulnerable youth and Pacific people.

^ Top of Page

Ageing Well National Science Challenge

Adding life to years for all older New Zealanders

Three seniors imageThe mission of Ageing Well is to push back disability thresholds to enable all New Zealanders to reach their full potential through the life course with particular reference to the latter years of life.

^ Top of Page

Dr Vivienne Anderson

Policy and practice in higher education

Vivienne Anderson imageDr Vivienne Anderson is a senior lecturer at the Higher Education Development Centre. Her research explores educational mobilities, education policy, student experiences, and teaching practice. Formerly a primary school teacher, Vivienne has an interdisciplinary research background, having completed PhD study in Education and Anthropology, and having worked since then in dental and teacher education contexts.
 
Vivienne co-supervised Zeb Laqekoro's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship on Pacific young people's perspectives on oral health.

^ Top of Page

ASPIRE2025

Tobacco control

Stop smoking sign imageASPIRE2025 is a partnership between major New Zealand research groups helping to achieve the Government's goal of a tobacco-free Aotearoa by 2025. It brings together leading tobacco-free researchers and health service groups in New Zealand and strengthens existing collaborations. ASPIRE2025 is a University of Otago Research Theme.

^ Top of Page

Professor Hallie Buckley

Bioarchaeology, Asia-Pacific, health and disease, forensic anthropology

Hallie Buckley imageAssociate Professor Buckley explores patterns of prehistoric health and disease in the Asia-Pacific region as evidence of adaptation to the environment.

Further research interests focus on the effect of different cultural and ecological environments on the health and disease of prehistoric peoples in the Asia-Pacific region. This research is conducted through the analysis of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites in the Pacific islands and museum-curated samples.

Hallie is Co-director of the Research Theme: Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health.

^ Top of Page

Centre for Pacific Health

Centre for Pacific Health bird logo The Centre for Pacific Health was launched in 2018 to house the research and teaching activities of the Va’a o Tautai. It is now home to a dedicated team of Pacific and non-Pacific researchers working in areas of importance to Pacific communities in New Zealand and internationally.
Va’a o Tautai

Alongside research, the Centre for Pacific Health also provides leadership in teaching Pacific health across Health Sciences professional programmes, the Bachelor of Health Sciences, and other areas of health curricula where Pacific perspectives are important:

Email centre.pacifichealth@otago.ac.nz
Web otago.ac.nz/centre-pacific-health

^ Top of page

Professor Steve Chambers

Respiratory infections; infectious diseases

Steve Chambers image Professor Steve Chambers is Chair of the Medical Committee of the Pacific Leprosy Foundation (PLF). The PLF is a Christchurch-based charity that works with Pacific Island Governments. These include Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Kiribati.

New research on chemoprophylaxis has led to a need for improved policies and research to eliminate leprosy from the Pacific. Samoa has recently modified policy to try and eradicate the already well-controlled rates, and Kiribati, which unfortunately has ongoing transmission, is being supported by research on the stigma, case distribution and mathematical modelling of the impact of interventions.

Professor Chambers collaborators on this work include:

  • Dr Lee Thomson, Population Health, University of Otago, Christchurch
  • Associate Professor Patricia Priest, Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago
  • Professor J H Richardus, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam
  • Dr Wayne Tyson, Geospatial Health, University of Canterbury, Christchurch.

Professor Chambers research interests relate to diagnostics in respiratory infections, the treatment of infectious diseases and intermediary metabolism with particular emphasis on the relationship between bacterial and human metabolism.

^ Top of Page

Dr Dawn Coates

Periodontal health and disease

Dawn Coates imageDr Coates undertakes research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in tissue growth and remodeling in relation to dental health and disease. Research involves a particular focus on angiogenesis, endoplasmic reticulum stress, multi-potent progenitor cells and osteogenesis.

Dawn is co-supervising Elizabeth Williams, a doctoral candidate in clinical dentistry.

^ Top of Page

Professor Jennie Connor

Epidemiology: alcohol, sexual health, injury

Professor Jennie Connor imageJennie Connor is a public health physician and epidemiologist. She has extensive experience in public health research on the health effects of alcohol, injury prevention, and sexual and reproductive health.

Current research interests include a programme of work on alcohol use and health effects in university students, and reproductive and sexual health in the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.

Jennie supervised David Nair's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship about alcohol consumption and behaviours of Pacific youth.

^ Top of Page

Associate Professor Brian Cox

Epidemiology of cancer

Brian Cox imageBrian Cox is the Director of The Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit which explores the causes of cancer. The Unit has completed a nationwide study of prostate cancer and are preparing for a national study of bowel cancer.

They are also investigating the delay in the diagnosis of cancer in Pacific Island men. Staff are also collaborating on research into the causes of breast cancer.

The Unit monitors the national breast and cervical screening programmes. Theyf also conduct research into the impact of these programmes.

^ Top of Page

Professor John Crump

Co-director of the Centre for International Health

John Crump imageThe Centre for International Health facilitates and promotes research to contribute to the understanding and improvement of health in under-resourced countries, while focusing on postgraduate training and strategic mentorship of leaders.

The Centre partners on projects in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. John works on collaborative research on typhoid fever control in Fiji and also on typhoid fever vaccine policy in the Pacific and worldwide.

Professor Sarah Derrett

Health systems and person-reported health and disability outcomes

Sarah Derrett imageAssociate Professor Derrett is Director of the Injury Prevention Research Unit.

She is an investigator, including internationally, on health and well-being outcomes for people experiencing a range of health conditions such as spinal cord injury, end-stage kidney disease, stroke, motor vehicle crashes, diabetic care, and neurosurgery.

Sarah and Faumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga supervised Mel Mauliu’s 2014 Master of Public Health (Outcomes for Pacific Peoples after injury and the lived experiences of injured Pacific women in New Zealand), and she has co-supervised two HRC 2015–16 Summer Studentships: Mel Mauiliu (Injury and Pacific women in NZ), and Ryder Fuimaono (Samoan patient pathways to renal services).

^ Top of Page

Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble

Senior Research Fellow in rural health

Fiona Doolan-Noble Fiona's expertise is in the development and evaluation of care programmes for those with long-term conditions.

Her research interests are:

  • Preventive care
  • How health systems meet the needs of those with long term conditions
  • The impact of lay health navigators
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Health system design and quality improvement
  • Generating and sustaining change in primary health care

At the Centre for Health Systems and Technology, she is working on examining care coordination for people with chronic conditions.

Fiona co-supervised Adaab Azam's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship about multimorbidity and polypharmacy.

^ Top of Page

Professor Warwick Duncan

Periodontics and Dental Implantology

Warwick Duncan image Professor Duncan's primary research activities involve the fields of Periodontology and Dental Implantology. His expertise is in the use of animal models for testing therapeutic strategies including: clinical, microbiological, histomorphometric, and radiomorphometric analysis of peri-implant, periodontal, and maxillofacial tissues.

He is currently focused on:

  • The regeneration of bone to support implantable titanium, titanium alloy, and zirconia devices with different modified surfaces
  • In vivo testing of novel bone grafting materials
  • New diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for periodontal and peri-implant diseases

He is also involved in basic science and epidemiological research in the areas of clinical periodontics, dental implantology, forensics, and comparative anatomy.

Professor Duncan co-supervised Vanda Symon's doctoral research on the portrayal of forensic science.

^ Top of Page

Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research (EDOR)

Reducing the global burden of diabetes and obesity

Ofa, Kirsten and colleagues imageEDOR aims to reduce the prevalence, and to improve the management, of diabetes and obesity by finding new ways to prevent and treat these conditions. By striving for research excellence and encouraging international collaboration we can bring the greatest benefit to New Zealanders and the wider world. We’re sharing our discoveries with individuals, communities, teachers, health professionals and policymakers.

Pacific-relevant research

^ Top of Page

Dr Richard Egan

Psycho-social-spiritual supportive cancer care, health promotion, spirituality, hospice / palliative care

Richard Egan imageDr Richard Egan is based in the Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit. His interests are supportive care in cancer, health promotion, and the place of spirituality in health and well-being. Richard is a mixed methods researcher, with a particular focus on qualitative research.

His background includes health promotion and secondary school teaching. He has qualifications in theology, English literature, religious studies, and public health.

Richard supervised Jonathan Feki's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship about spiritual care and kidney disease.

^ Top of Page

Dr Ruth Ferguson

Social and clinical pharmacy

Ruth Ferguson imageDr Ruth Ferguson acts as a pharmacy consultant to the Ministry of Health, Cook Islands. Ruth has visited on a voluntary basis since 2012. She works closely with Cook Islands' chief pharmacist Biribo Tekanene.

Under Ruth and Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott's direction pharmacy undergraduate students Mena Alsaffar, Duncan McGill, James Nethercott and Timothy Tomas conducted a study in the Cook Islands to describe and quantify anti­infective use. The aim was to establish a base line to observe for changes in antibiotic use following the introduction of guidelines.

Two of the students visited the Cook Islands while researching their project. This helped further their understanding and knowledge of the Islands’ medicine and pharmacy practice.

Ruth and Natalie's next project for students is to investigate treatment options for a very common skin disease. Recommendations will be made to the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Health committee.

^ Top of Page

Professor Grant Gillett

Psychiatry, bioethics, philosophy, and neuroscience

Grant Gillett imageIn bioethics Professor Gillett works on end-of-life care, complementary and alternative medicine, autonomy, and the patient's journey.

In neuroethics he has written widely on brain birth, brain death, PVS (persistent vegetative state), and minimally conscious states, and issues of free will, identity, and responsibility.

Grant supervised Fuakava Tanginoa's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship project on a Pacific approach to ethical issues in sexuality education.

Dr Haizal Hussaini

Oral pathology and immunology

Haizal Hussaini Dr Hussaini's main research interest is investigating immune responses in the tumour microenvironment, particularly oral squamous cell carcinoma. Current research explores modulation of the immune system by cancer cells in the process of local invasion and lymph node metastasis, and the role of angiogenesis in these processes.

Dr Hussaini co-supervises Elizabeth Williams in her doctoral candidacy in clinical dentistry.

Associate Professor Siân Halcrow

Infant and child health and disease in the past

Sian Halcrow image Siân's research interest lies in the effects of major social and environmental changes on human life in prehistoric times, in particular the impact of agricultural intensification and the associated social transformation.

She uncovers vital indicators of a population’s general health by closely studying the bones and teeth of its members at both the macroscopic and microscopic level. This painstaking work includes assessing age at time of death, sex, chemical analyses of diet and time of weaning, demographic change and evidence of stress, and pathology.

Siân is Co-director of the Research Theme: Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health.

Professor Leigh Hale

Physiotherapy and rehabilitation

Leigh Hale imageProfessor Hale is the Dean of the School of Physiotherapy and a member of the Pacific Strategic Group.

Professor Hale's expertise encompasses both quantitative and qualitative domains and is focused on clinical neurorehabilitation. She is also on the Science Leadership Team for the Ageing Well National Science Challenge.

Her research interests include:

  • Community falls prevention programmes for older adults
  • Fall prevention in adults with intellectual disability
  • Self-management and stroke
  • Exercise and physical activity in people with long term conditions
  • The use of virtual reality in stroke rehabilitation
  • Disability awareness
  • Valuing support workers

Professor Hale co-supervised Chris Higgs' master's on management of diabetes.

^ Top of Page

Healthier Lives National Science Challenge

Delivering the right prevention to the right population and the right treatment to the right patient

Family on a beach image The Healthier Lives National Science Challenge is a national research collaboration dedicated to achieving healthier lives for all New Zealanders.

We are working on the prevention and treatment of four of New Zealand’s main non-communicable diseases:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Pacific-relevant research

Dr Susan Heydon

Social pharmacy; medicines and society in developed and developing countries

Susan Heydon imageDr Heydon's research expertise is in international health, implementation of aid, provision and use of health services in developed and developing countries and interaction between different medical systems. her focus is on the broader historical, social, political and economic context in which sickness is experienced and healthcare services are provided.

The main areas she currently works on are:

  • Changing patterns of medicines use, the place of medicines in primary healthcare services both in international / global and New Zealand contexts
  • Global vaccination programmes
  • Medicines and pharmacy history in New Zealand

Dr Heydon co-supervised Vanda Symon's doctoral research on the portayal on forensic science.

Chris Higgs

Physiotherapy in the management of diabetes

Chris Higgs imageChris is a Professional Practice Fellow and the Pacific support person for the School of Physiotherapy.

One of Chris' research interests is the management of diabetes and prediabetes. Adults of Pacific descent have more than double the prevalence of diabetes / prediabetes compared with the general population. His study investigated the clinical benefits and acceptability of a novel physical rehabilitation and education programme targeted towards high-needs communities.

Chris' master's was supervised by Professor Leigh Hale and Dr Margot Skinner. Chris co-supervised Troy Ruhe's falls prevention research.

Read more about Chris' research:

^ Top of Page

Professor Philip Hill

Co-director of the Centre for International health

Philip Hill and researchers in Samoa image The Centre for International Health facilitates and promotes research to contribute to the understanding and improvement of health in under-resourced countries, while focusing on postgraduate training and strategic mentorship of leaders.

The Centre partners on projects in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Professor Hill has formal collaborations with the National University of Samoa in the Pacific. He supervises postgraduate students on projects in several other countries around the world. In the photo he is seated, far right.

Philip supervised Kaylarina Fuata'i's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship about rheumatic fever treatment compliance.

Dr Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott

Family demography and sociology, Division of Humanities

Bryndl Hohmann-Marriott imageDr Hohmann-Marriott is a senior lecturer in sociology. She specialises in quantitative methods, including surveys and secondary data analysis.

Her research and supervision interests include:

  • Parenting
  • Father involvement with children
  • Fertility and childbearing decisions
  • Partnerships and marriage
  • Union formation and dissolution
  • Couple-level analysis

Bryndl supervised Nina Maifea's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship about student's decision-making about life / work balance.

^ Top of Page

Associate Professor Rajesh Katare

Cardiovascular disease and diabetes

Rajesh Katare image Associate Professor Katare is a senior lecturer in physiology. His research interests include:

  • Identifying the molecular mechanisms behind development of cardiovascular complications in diabetes
  • Demonstration of the pathological role of microRNAs in cardiovascular diseases
  • Development of novel genetic and stem cell therapies for the treatment of ischemic and non-ischemic cardiovascular complications

Rajesh supervised Tapuaki Vehikite's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship project examining impacts on the diabetic heart.

^ Top of Page

Dr Michael Knapp

Evolutionary genomics and conservation genomics, biological anthropology

Michael Knapp imageThe Pacific is the last frontier of human settlement. As part of the Biological Anthropology team Michael contributes to investigating questions relating to human migration.

The team explore who were the Lapita people that first moved into Remote Oceania around 3500 years ago, and if they were the biological ancestors of indigenous people in the Pacific today. They also explore if there was prehistoric contact between Polynesia and South America.

These questions are addressed by reconstructing the ancestry of early Pacific settlers using ancient DNA extracted from human remains from across the South Pacific.

Michael is also a member of the Allan Wilson at Otago Research Theme.

^ Top of Page

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith

Biological Anthropology and human genetic variation in ancient and modern populations

Lisa Matisoo-Smith image Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith is Director of Allan Wilson at Otago. It is a Research Theme that explores the health and histories of New Zealand populations using evolutionary genomics.

Genomics and bioinformatics are used to reconstruct biological, linguistic, and cultural histories to find evolutionary factors that impact on our modern genomic diversity.

This evolutionary perspective may shed light on how we approach health issues, conservation of our native species, and have implications for social issues and identity.

^ Top of Page

Associate Professor Natalie Medlicott

Clinical pharmacy; drug delivery

Natalie Medlicott imageAssociate Professor Natalie Medlicott's research interests are in drug delivery in clinical pharmacy. This involves research spanning basic research of drug delivery systems, and their optimal use in patients.

She also investigates protein drug physical stability, and analytical methods to study interactions between protein drugs and formulation excipients. She is also an investigator in the D4 Network research group.

Natalie co-supervised Vanda Symon's doctoral research on the portrayal of forensic science.

^ Top of Page

Professor Tony Merriman

Biochemistry, researching the genetic basis of gout and rheumatoid arthritis

Tony Merriman imageTony is a member of Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research (EDOR).

His research group takes a genetic approach to understanding the biology of human disease:

  • Gout—the genetic causes and how these genes interact with the environment
  • Genetics of autoimmune disease (mainly gout and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • A genetic relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia
  • Copy number variable genes and disease

Tony currently supervises PhD candidate Tahzeeb Fatima's project on genetic variations affecting obesity and gout. He is also supervising Amara Shaukut on the genetic association of an inflammatory gene and gout.

Read more about Tony's work:

Associate Professor Brian Monk

Molecular microbiology

Brian Monk imageIn order to combat infectious disease it is imperative that we discover new approaches, especially where clinically significant drug resistance has emerged. Dr Monk uses molecular genetic manipulation of yeast and bacterial systems to express drug targets for effective screening of compound libraries. Most of the antifungal targets he has developed are membrane proteins.

The yeast expression system patented by Dr Monk is used widely to express membrane proteins from a range of sources including pathogenic fungi, plants and humans. Related research interests include defining and overcoming mechanisms of echinocandin, anthelmintic and antimalarial resistance, expressing human drug targets for drug screening, and equipping yeast biofactories with efflux pumps to improve productivity by protecting against toxic substrates, products and metabolites.

Brian is co-supervising Arpana Arthi Devi's doctoral research in clinical dentistry.

Professor Pauline Norris

Social pharmacy, access to and use of medicines

Pauline Norris image Pauline is a member of Health Sciences Pacific Strategic Group.

She is particularly interested how lay people understand and use medicines, and looking at specific population groups, and barriers they face in accessing and using safe and appropriate medicines. She uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

One major research area is in the Pacific, and with Pacific people in New Zealand. This includes antibiotic use in Samoa, and a project on the accuracy of ethnicity recording for Pacific people.

Currently I am supervising projects on elderly people and their medicines, the impact of licensing and subsidy decisions in different countries, how much people pay for their medicines, and on how people interpret and respond to minor symptoms.

Pauline supervised Ulalei Aiono's HRC 2015–16 Summer Studentship on prescription charges.

Pauline also co-supervised (with Associate Professor June Tordoff), Santoria Utufua’s PGDipPharm research on promethazine prescribing and use in children under two years of age in Samoa.

^ Top of Page

Professor Richie Poulton

Psychology

Richie Poulton imageIn addition to leading the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, Professor Poulton's research interests include mental health, gene X environment prediction of complex disorders, and psychosocial determinants of chronic physical disease. He also has a strong interest in promoting the uptake of evidence for policy and practice.

Richie co-supervised Jesse Kokaua's doctoral research in mental health.

^ Top of Page

Professor Alison Rich

Diagnostic oral pathology

Alison Rich imageProfessor Rich's research interests relate to gaining a greater understanding of the pathogenesis of oral diseases to complement her clinical specialty of diagnostic oral pathology. Her main research interest is in oral cancer, particularly developing tools to more accurately predict the transformation of potentially malignant oral diseases to oral cancer and, more recently, investigation the role of immune cells in the oral cancer environment.

Alison is co-supervising Elizabeth Williams, a doctoral candidate in clinical dentistry.

Professor Diana Sarfati

Cancer epidemiology

Di Sarfati imageProfessor Sarfati is a public health physician and epidemiologist with a particular interest in the interface between public health and clinical medicine. Her work includes a range of projects aimed at reducing the impact of cancer and chronic conditions on population health and health inequalities through policy and health system change. Recent projects include those that explore cancer incidence and outcomes for Pacific people, and projects exploring approaches to reducing the impact of diabetes among people of all ethnic groups.

Dr Benedict Seo

Diagnostic oral pathology

Dr Seo investigates the pathogenesis of oral cancer, odontogenic lesions and immune-mediated oral diseases, with a particular focus on unfolded protein response (UPR) and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. He has an active research partnership with the University of Malaysia, Oral Cancer Research and Coordination Centre and the National University of Malaysia, as well as with Dunedin Public Hospital.

Benedict is co-supervising Elizabeth Williams doctoral candidacy in clinical dentistry.

^ Top of Page

Dr Margot Skinner

Cardiopulmonary physiotherapy, global health

Margot Skinner image Dr Skinner is Deputy Dean and a senior lecturer in the School of Physiotherapy. She is also Vice President, World Confederation for Physical Therapy so has many links internationally and in the Pacific region. Her research explores conservative management of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), and global health priorities, and interprofessional education.

Margot co-supervised Chris Higgs' master's on management of diabetes.

Current research interests:

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Interprofessional education
  • Physiotherapy contribution to improving global health
  • Analysis of thoracic posture including amongst elite singers, and also in people with asthma and obesity

More about Margot's expertise:

Dr Moira Smith

Health policy development

Moira Smith Moira is a Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit.

Her research interests lie in the area of policy development which create supportive environments, particularly in nutrition, children's health and oral health.

Using Photovoice, Moira's PhD explored children’s and parents perspectives of the availability and promotion of food and beverages associated with sport. Moira has a background in clinical dentistry.

Dr Jo Stanton

Point-of-care molecular diagnostics, reproductive biology, next generation sequencing

Jo-Ann Stanton and colleagues imageDr Stanton (far right in the photo) is one of New Zealand's leading experts on Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies, having established the first fully-operational NGS New Zealand sequencing service based around the 454 Roche GS FLX technology. This service expanded to include the SOLiD platform from Life Technologies. Subsequently she has acquired working knowledge of bench-top sequencing technologies—the Ion Torrent and Ion Proton.

In Pacific health she uses a combination of ancient DNA and modern samples to study human migrations through the Pacific.

Professor Tim Stokes

Health care quality improvement, primary care policy, practitioner–patient relations

Tim Stokes imageTim Stokes is a GP with an interest in health care quality improvement research with a focus on the development and use of clinical practice guidelines and performance measures. Tim's interest is in understanding and promoting how research findings become embedded in routine health care in clinical, organisational, and policy contexts.

He has conducted a number of systematic reviews, and is co-investigator on several UK studies that aim to promote the development of more rigorous guidance, and to better implement clinical guideline recommendations in primary care. A second research interest of Tim's is practitioner–patient relations.

Tim co-supervised Adaab Azam's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship about multimorbidity and polypharmacy.

Dr Mele Taumoepeau

Developmental psychology, Division of Sciences

Mele Taumeopeau image Dr Mele Taumoepeau’s research interests include preschoolers’ socio-emotional development, the role of parent-child conversations about mental states in preschooler’s children’s social understanding, cross-cultural differences in parent-child conversations about the mind, and child language development. Recently she has focused on understanding the role of parent-child conversations in the development of children’s social cognition in Pacific Island families.

Mele is currently Chair of the Pacific Health Research Council of New Zealand committee.

Mele supervised Hilla Fukofuka's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship project about mental wellbeing and diabetes biomarkers. Mele is currently co-supervising PhD candidate Jaye Moors' thesis on genetic and environmental causes of metabolic disease in Maori and Pacific populations.

^ Top of Page

Dr Reremoana (Moana) Theodore

Lifecourse research, Māori health and education, chronic disease, child health

Reremoana Theodore imageDr Theodore is the Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research. She is an Investigator on the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study​, the Graduate Longitudinal Study NZ, and Te Kura Mai i Tawhiti—a Māori community research programme.

Her research specialities include:

  • Lifecourse research
  • Māori health and education
  • The development of chronic disease

Moana co-supervised Theresa Fitzpatrick's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship project about low-carb high-fat diet's suitability for Pasifika peoples.

Professor Murray Thomson

Dental epidemiology, dental public health, and health services research

Murray Thomson imageProfessor W. Murray Thomson is an experienced dental researcher and specialist in dental public health. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, and Associate Editor for the European Journal of Oral Sciences. He was the Editor of the New Zealand Dental Journal from 2007 to 2014. To date, he has published 290 research papers and 5 book chapters in the scientific literature, and his Scopus h index is 40.

Professor Thomson has been honoured with two IADR Distinguished Scientist Awards (the 2010 H. Trendley Dean Memorial Award and the 2014 Geriatric Oral Research Award).

Murray was a co-supervisor for Ashleigh Raikuna’s 2016/17 Summer Studentship project: Effects of severe early childhood caries on Pacific Islands families.

Associate Professor June Tordoff

Clinical and social pharmacy; medicines use in older people, access to medicines, medicines policy

June Tordoff image Associate Professor June Tordoff's PhD research was in medicines policy and involved evaluating the impact of the National Hospital Pharmaceutical Strategy by PHARMAC. At the same time she was involved in research on access to medicines for children in New Zealand and other countries, and the appropriate use of some medicines at the interface of primary and secondary care.

More recently she has been involved in examining medicines use among older people, new roles for pharmacists, and access to medicines for adults in New Zealand compared with some other developed countries.

June co-supervised (with Professor Pauline Norris), Santoria Utufua’s PGDipPharm research on promethazine prescribing and use in children under two years of age in Samoa.

^ Top of Page

Associate Professor Jacques van der Meer

Associate Dean (Academic and Research), College of Education

Associate Professor van der Meer has a background in a variety of educational settings in New Zealand, including transition education (in the context of an inter-tribal urban Marae in Otara, South Auckland), high school teaching (in conjunction with guidance counselling), and community and adult education.

His research interests relate to the transition into University and the experience of first-year students:

  • Student retention
  • Peer-learning
  • Equitable access and participation in higher education
  • Pedagogical/andragogical approaches to enhancing student engagement

Jacques co-supervised 'Alapasita Teu's project on Pacific students transitioning to University.

^ Top of Page

Professor Rob Walker

Kidney health and disease

Rob Walker image Professor Walker conducts clinical research including cardiovascular risk factors associated with chronic kidney disease; hypertension, obesity and inflammation; drug induced nephrotoxicity; drugs, exercise and kidney function; acute kidney injury; dialysis outcomes in the elderly.

He also conducts basic science research focused upon mechanisms of chronic interstitial fibrosis in a chronic-lithium animal model.

Rob co-supervised Ryder Fuimaono's 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship on Samoan pathways to renal services.

Associate Professor Debra Waters

Body composition and physical function during ageing

Debra Waters image Associate Professor Debra Waters is an expert in the area of falls, and is Director of Gerontology (School of Medicine / School of Physiotherapy). Associate Professor Waters is a member of the Management Directorate for the Ageing Well National Science Challenge.

Her research interests include:

  • Determinants and prevalence of sarcopenia (sarcopenia is a disease associated with ageing, it includes loss of muscle mass and strength)
  • Determinants and prevalence of sarcopenic obesity (loss of lean mass plus an increase of fat mass)
  • Impact of sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity on physical function
  • Community-based exercise interventions to maintain physical function during ageing

Associate Professor Waters co-supervised Troy Ruhe's falls prevention 2015–16 HRC Summer Studentship project.