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Dean's Diary

Weekly newsletter for Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences staff

7 December 2012 | Issue 274
Four members of faculty promoted to Associate Professor

We are delighted this week to lead the Diary with the news of four promotions from the faculty to the position of Associate Professor. This title is given to academics who are developing a strong international profile and have demonstrated sustained high competence in both teaching and research; our new APs certainly fall into these ranks.

On behalf of the faculty we extend warm congratulations to:

  • Dr Adam Patterson who obtained his BA (Hons) in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford and his PhD in the field of Bioreductive prodrugs while jointly located at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford and the Medical Research Council Radiobiology Unit at Harwell. Adam joined the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre in 2000 and is currently a co-Principal Investigator on a HRC Programme Grant, a Project Leader on a New Economy Research Fund Programme Grant, is a named investigator on two Marsden Fund grants and an Associate Investigator of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.


  • Dr Mattias Soop who completed general surgical training and a PhD in surgical stress physiology in 2004 at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm and Hope Hospital, Manchester, UK. Mattias completed a postdoc and a clinical fellowship in colorectal surgery at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester 2006-2008, after which he took up a position as an academic consultant colorectal surgeon at The University of Auckland in conjunction with a clinical appointment at the Waitemata DHB. Mattias’ research interests focus on surgical stress reduction, regulation of glucose and protein metabolism in skeletal muscle and management of intestinal failure, and his research group is supported by the Ministry of Health, the Health Research Council and The University of Auckland.
  • Dr Mark Vickers, Research Fellow, Liggins Institute and Gravida. After completing a BSc in geography, Mark Vickers worked for several years in biomedical research laboratories in New Zealand and Germany and then returned to Auckland to do his MSc in paediatrics. He followed this with his PhD which looked at the effects of fetal undernutrition and consequences in later life in terms of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. In 2006 Mark was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Hamilton Memorial Prize for his work in this area.


  • Dr Susan Morton who currently holds a joint appointment as a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the School of Population Health and the Liggins Institute, and is Director of the Centre for Longtitudinal Research which is home to the Growing Up in New Zealand study. Susan originally obtained an honours degree in pure mathematics, then switched careers studying medicine here before training in paediatrics as a registrar in the late 1990s. Susan travelled to London to pursue a PhD in epidemiology and specialising in Public Health Medicine before returning to Auckland and the faculty.


Vale: Dr Valerie Grant, friend to many at FMHS

Val GrantIt is with sadness that we advise faculty of the death last Sunday, after a brief illness, of Dr Valerie Grant. Val studied psychology at The University of Auckland, later specialising in evolutionary psychology. She taught at our School of Medicine for 34 years, first in Behavioural Science, later in Medical Ethics and the Humanities. Val was a strong advocate for a central role for ethics in medical practice.

Born into a Methodist parsonage in Dunedin, and later living at Trinity Methodist College Auckland where her father was the principal, Valerie had a life-long interest in religion and the search for meaning. Val’s husband Kelvin practiced as an architect prior to his death in 2008, and Val is survived by two sons, Paul and Bruce along with four grandsons. A warm, generous friend to many at faculty, Val will be remembered with great affection. Val's funeral service will be held at the Maclaurin Chapel on Saturday (8 December) at 1pm.

Congratulations to…..
  • Dr Tony Fernando, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychological Medicine (SOM) who this week was awarded a Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Oversas at a ceremony at the President’s Palace in Manilla. The award, part of a series of awards established more than 20 years ago by former President Corazon C. Aquino, recognised Tony’s work here in medical education, wellbeing and sleep medicine.

  • Lisa (Fanny) Zheng who has recently completed her Biomedical Science honours course at MMP under the direction of Associate Professor Thomas Proft and who last week took top place in the poster category at the annual New Zealand Microbiology Society (NZMS) meeting in Dunedin. Lisa’s poster title was: "Cloning, expression and functional analysis of a putative Group A streptococcal adenosine synthase". This week Lisa started a summer studentship at ANU in Canberra; she will be back to start a PhD in the department of MMP next year.

  • Dr Sharad P Paul, an honorary Senior Lecturer with the Department of Surgery who recently was awarded the NZMA’s Chair’s Award, an annual honour recognising an individual or organisation which has made a substantial contribution to the health of New Zealanders. Dr Paul trained as a doctor in Madras, India, and came to New Zealand in 1991. He became a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners in 1999, and gained a Master of Philosophy in Medical Law and Ethics from the University of Glasgow in 2002. He is also a Fellow of the Skin Cancer College of Australasia and interestingly is the published author of two literary fiction novels, Cool Cut (Picador 2007) and To Kill a Snow Dragonfly (4th Estate, Harper Collins 2012). Outside of medicine Dr Paul runs an award winning café and bookstore called the Baci Lounge, in Newmarket, the proceeds of which are used to fund literacy programmes in low decile Auckland schools, with the aim of helping children to “dream with their eyes wide open.” He has also served on the National Commission of UNESCO.

Two scholarships to Māori medical students at the faculty

This week two Hauora Māori scholars in our medical programme were awarded $10,000 John McLeod Scholarships. These are funded through the Māori Provider Development Scheme with the aim of growing Māori participation in the health and disability workforce. The scholarships are named for Dr John McLeod, recognised nationally and internationally for his work in public health and contribution to Māori health. They are presented to high academic achievers who also show selfless commitment to their colleagues and communities. We salute:

  •  Eugene Michael (Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), a qualified pharmacist who changed pathways and has now completed his sixth year of his MBChB and joined the ADHB
  •  Reuben Kirk (Ngāi Tūhoe) who starts third year of his MBChB in 2013 and who already boasts a Masters of Health Practice in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy.

Caption: John McLeod Scholarship winners Eugene Michael (left), Reuben Kirk and Karl McLeod, Dr John McLeod’s son.

2012 Gluckman Medal celebration for Professor John Windsor

Professor John WindsorThe Gluckman Medal for 2012 has been awarded to Professor John Windsor, Department of Surgery. The faculty will celebrate this at the Grafton Campus this coming Monday 10 December at midday with the Gluckman Medal presentation followed by the Peter Gluckman Distinguished International Lecture to be delivered by Professor Windsor. John has called his lecture "Streams in the Desert" and will examine the experimental work being undertaken by the Pancreas Research Group which he has established.

The Gluckman Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions to research, teaching and service within the faculty, and in awarding the 2012 prize the selection panel cited John’s very strong research, his outstanding commitment to excellence in clinical teaching and his contributions as a highly successful Head of Department of Surgery. I would encourage as many as can attend this celebration to pop the date into their diaries.

 Add this event to your calendar

Faculty Barbeque scheduled for Thursday 13 December

A final reminder that the FMHS Faculty Christmas barbeque will be held at Grafton next Thursday 13 December starting at 12.30pm. While many departments are keen to make their own plans and arrangements for this busy year-end period, we suggest you might anchor the all-faculty barbeque in your diaries and work other engagements around the barbeque afternoon.

Grafton and Tamaki hours over the Christmas break

The Grafton and Tamaki Campuses will officially close at 3:00pm on Friday 21 December for the Christmas break. Both campuses will be in after-hours security controlled mode over the break. The Tamaki reception will open again from January 3, while the Grafton reception will reopen with reduced hours on Monday January 7. That week the reception desk at Grafton will be manned from 7:30 am – 1:00pm, and the week commencing January 14 will see them open from 7:30am – 3:000pm. Normal hours (7:30am – 6:00pm) will commence from January 21.

If you are working over these times and are expecting visitors, please provide clear instructions on how to locate you. Another option is to have a member of your group meet them on arrival. Parking will be available in the visitors car park in Park Ave.

Café 85 at Grafton will close on December 21 and will re-open in the week starting January 7 from 7:30am – 3:30pm, with normal hours resuming from January 14.

  To add to your diary
  • 2012 Peter Gluckman Medal Presentation and Distinguished International Lecture: 'Streams in the Desert' presented by Professor John Windsor. Monday 10 December, 12-1.30pm, Lecture Theatre 505-007, Grafton Campus.  Add to your calendar
  • PharmaTell seminar: 'Supercritical fluids – what are they? A case for the delivery of brick dust bioactives' presented by James Falconer; and 'Nanoparticles for drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier' presented by Alvin Zhou. Tuesday 11 December, 12-1pm, Room 505-364, Grafton Campus. 
    Add to your calendar
  • Liggins Institute seminar: 'Healthy homework: A physical activity and nutrition intervention for children' presented by Dr Scott Duncan. Wednesday 12 December, 3.30-4.30pm, Seminar Room 505-003, Grafton Campus.   Add to your calendar
  • Auckland Nutrition Research Network: For more information please contact, Clare Wall . Wednesday 12 December, 5-7pm, Seminar Room 505-007, Grafton Campus.   Add to your calendar
  • Faculty Keynote Presentation: 'Assessment for professionalism' presented by Professor Lambert Schuwirth. Friday 14 December, 1-2pm, Room 501-110, Grafton Campus.  
    Add to your calendar