Oversight Board

Professor John Fraser (Chair)

Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

John is a graduate of Victoria University and gained a PhD in biochemistry from Auckland University in 1983. Following postdoctoral research immunology at Harvard University, he returned to New Zealand to a position as the inaugural Wellcome Trust (UK) Senior Fellow in Medical Science. He received a personal chair in Molecular Medicine in 2000 and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2005 for his work on superantigens. John has a long standing interest in immunity and infectious disease and particularly the mechanisms of virulence and pathogenicity of gram positive organisms. John has published over 150 peer reviewed publications and books and has supervised 35 postgraduate and doctoral students. He serves on a number of national and international scientific bodies, boards and committees and is also a foundation principal scientist of the Maurice Wilkins Centre of Research Excellence. John is a strong advocate for the role of science in society and the importance of research led teaching in medical education.

Professor Richard Douglas, Otolaryngologist

Richard is an ORL surgeon with particular interest in endoscopic sinus and medial skull base surgery. He trained and practised as a clinical immunologist and allergist at Auckland Hospital before undertaking training in ORL. Currently, he is a Professor in Surgery at The University of Auckland and Consultant Surgeon at Auckland City Hospital, and has a private practice at Mauranui Clinic in Epsom. Richard’s research focus has been the interaction between the local immunity of the nasal and sinus mucosa and the bacteria that cause chronic rhinosinusitis. This condition is characterized by its intractability despite treatment with prolonged courses of antibiotics.

 

Professor Peter Hunter, Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland

Peter completed his Engineering and Masters of Engineering degrees at the University of Auckland before undertaking his DPhil (PhD) in Physiology at the University of Oxford where he researched finite element modeling of ventricular mechanics. Since then his major research interests have been around modelling various aspects of the human body using specially developed computational algorithms and an anatomically and biophysically based approach which incorporates the detailed anatomical and microstructural measurements and material properties into continuum models. Recipient of numerous awards and accolades, Peter is currently helping to develop standards based physiological models and the use of computational methods for understanding the integrated physiological function of the body in terms of the structure and function of tissues, cells and proteins. Alongside his role as Director of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and Professor of Engineering Science at the University of Auckland, Peter is also a Deputy Director of the Medical Technologies Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE) hosted by the University of Auckland. He holds honorary or visiting Professorships at a number of universities around the world and is on the scientific advisory boards of a number of research institutes in Europe, the US and the Asia-Pacific region.

Elena Keith, Consumer Representative

Elena was born with progressive hearing loss and, by her late twenties, became profoundly deaf. She received a cochlear implant through the New Zealand Government public programme in 2007 and since then has been an advocate for others with hearing loss. She has worked extensively with service providers in the hearing sector to raise awareness and to identify and implement solutions to benefit those who have been impacted by hearing loss. Elena launched New Zealand’s first hearing loss programme for school children in partnership with the University of Auckland and Dangerous Decibels and ran the dedicated teen mentoring programme, Hear for You

Peter Neilson, Chair of the National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Peter is the Managing Director of Thoroughbred Consulting Ltd and pro bono Chair of the National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He was the Chief Executive at the Financial Services Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development for many years. After graduating in economics, his earlier life included time as a public servant before serving in the New Zealand Parliament between 1981 and 1990. Between 1984 and 1990 he was a Minister in the Lange/Palmer and Moore Governments. He was a Cabinet Minister holding the portfolios of Revenue and Works. He was also Associate Minister of Finance and State-owned Enterprises. After leaving Parliament he served as economic adviser to the Leader of the Opposition before working in corporate finance for a number of years. Following that he was an international consultant in Government reform from a New Zealand base. He has managed projects in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Namibia, the Pacific and Vietnam. 

David O’Connor, Hearing Research Foundation representative

David O’Connor is the Chairman of BDO New Zealand and Assurance Partner in BDO Auckland. With 31 years in professional services, David brings significant commercial and governance experience. Currently the director of several entities, David is a trustee of the Hearing Research Foundation and a member of the Auckland Catholic Diocese board, consequently adding to the boardroom table his commercial experience along with a solid focus on corporate governance. David has a great insight to the issues and challenges currently facing many New Zealand entities. In the role he presently holds, David brings a balanced perspective to clients.

Karen Pullar, New Zealand Audiological Society representative

Karen Pullar is a clinical audiologist who has worked in both the public and the private sectors in New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France, America and the United Kingdom. She brings extensive international commercial experience to the Oversight Board developed over 26 years with Oticon where she held audiology, sales, marketing and management positions, and served as Secretary of their New Zealand Foundation. Karen has been active in a numerous hearing related professional and community organisations including the New Zealand Audiological Society whom she has served as President, Secretary and Executive Board member; the Hearing Instrument and Manufactures Distributors Association (HIMADA) where she served as Chairperson for 14 years, and the Hearing Association where she held positions at both national and branch level. 

Professor John Reynolds, Brain Health Research Centre, University of Otago

John’s primary focus is on learning and movement generation processes in the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. In the basal ganglia, the emphasis is on unraveling the normal role of dopamine in learning and memory in vivo. Normal functioning of this process is critical to our ability to learn and perform new skills. The dysfunction of cells in the substantia nigra and striatum underlies the pathophysiology of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, respectively. This research involves a variety of techniques including electrophysiological recording, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry and operant behaviour. Current collaborations include local groups in the University of Otago Departments of Physiology (Hyland lab), Psychology (Abraham lab), Chemistry (Tan and Jameson labs), Biochemistry (Dearden lab) and Anatomy (Parr-Brownlie and Oorschot labs), and national and international groups in Sheffield (Prof Peter Redgrave), and Okinawa (Professors Jeff Wickens and Gordon Arbuthnott). Recently, his lab has begun to investigate synaptic plasticity processes in the cerebral cortex, taking a translational approach to their application for recovery from stroke, with collaborators at the University of Otago (Shemmell lab), the University of Auckland (Associate Professor Bronwen Connor), the University of Western Australia (Professor Chris Lind) and in Chicago (Dr Kuei-Yuan Tseng).