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Our Medical Committee

At the heart of our funding excellence is our Medical Committee; a panel of internationally recognised independent clinicians and scientists who rigorously evaluate all research applications and volunteer their time to achieve this. 

Professor Browett is a Consultant Haematologist at Auckland City Hospital, Professor of Pathology and Chair of the Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland. He is a graduate of the University of Otago Medical School, and after postgraduate training in clinical and laboratory haematology in Auckland, he was a Wellcome – HRC Research Fellow in the Department of Haematology, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London. Peter is involved in several co-operative group and institution iniated studies in haematologic malignancies and stem cell transplantation. He also heads a laboratory research group with interests in the genetics of thrombosis and bleeding, molecular markers in leukaemia and the role of PI3 kinase signalling in acute myeloid leukaemia. Peter has been involved with the Auckland Medical Research Foundation for several years, initially serving on the Medical Committee, and more recently as a member of the Board.

Professor Peter Browett

Chair of the AMRF Medical Committee, BMedSci, MBChB (Otago), FRACP, FRCPA


Professor Larry Chamley is Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the University of Auckland where he heads a research group studying the biology and immunology of reproduction. He is also the Director of the Hub for Extracellular Vesicles (HEVI) at The University of Auckland and is a member of the Council of the International Society for Immunology of Reproduction. He is the Editor of Trophoblast Research, an Associate Editor of Reproduction and Chair of the Publications Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Immunology. Larry has been Co-Deputy Chair of our Medical Committee since 2021 and was appointed to our Board in December 2022.

Professor Larry Chamley

Co-Deputy Chair of the AMRF Medical Committee, BSc (Waikato) MSc, PhD (Auckland), FSRB


Dr Vanessa Selak is a Public Health Physician and Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. Vanessa has 20 years’ experience working in hospital-based clinical, funding, planning and quality roles. Dr Selak leads a postgraduate programme in Digital Health and provides postgraduate training in health data analytics and quality improvement. Her research uses routinely collected electronic data to support clinical service improvement, primarily within the field of cardiology. Vanessa was appointed as Co-Deputy Chair of our Medical Committee in December 2022 and we were delighted to have Vanessa join our Board at the same time.

Dr Vanessa Selak

Co-Deputy Chair of the AMRF Medical Committee, MBChB (Otago), MPH (Auckland), FAFPHM, FNZCPHM, PhD (Auckland)


Dr Tim Angeli-Gordon is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow and Senior Research Fellow with the Gastrointestinal (GI) Research Group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI). He received his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Auckland in 2014, prior to which he completed BSE and MSE degrees in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Tim’s current research focuses on in vivo measurement and monitoring of GI electrophysiology, where he has a specific interest in developing new diagnostic devices and interventional therapeutics for functional gastrointestinal disorders. He particularly enjoys working on translational projects that span the interfaces of engineering, physiology, and clinical medicine. He has also previously worked in the fields of drug delivery and bioartificial organ research and development. Tim is an Associate Investigator with the MedTech national Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), as well as an Affiliated Researcher with the Riddet Institute CoRE. He is also a founding member of the medical technology spin-out company FlexiMap Ltd.

Dr Tim Angeli-Gordon

BSE, MSE (Michigan), PhD (Auckland)


Dr Doug Campbell is a specialist anaesthetist with a subspecialty interest in neuroscience and a neuroanaesthesia. He graduated from University of Southampton in United Kingdom in 1990 and emigrated permanently to New Zealand in 1998. He is director of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine Research at Auckland City Hospital, a member of the Executive of the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Clinical Trial Network, and is currently Senior Clinical Research Fellow for the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand. His research interests include depth of anaesthesia and clinical outcomes (mortality, delirium and cognitive outcomes), surgical epidemiology including risk prediction (NZRISK) and is Principal Investigator of MASTERSTROKE, a RCT looking at induced hypertension and stroke outcomes. He is involved with numerous collaborative trials, but particularly with ANZCA, and the University Departments of Physiology and Neurology.

Dr Doug Campbell

MBChB (Southampton), FRCA, FANZCA


Dr Nuala Helsby is an associate professor in the department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology at the University of Auckland, where Nuala teaches in numerous courses to both basic scientists and students in clinical programs. Following a number of years as a postdoctoral fellow in the UK at the University of Liverpool and the University of Birmingham, Nuala moved to NZ where she initially worked in the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre.
Nuala has an ongoing research interest in pharmacogenomics and drug disposition with a particular focus on anticancer drugs and medications for autoimmune diseases. She has served as an executive editor of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. She also has an active role in the Australian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR). With over 30 years of experience in this field Nuala was recently awarded fellowship of the British Pharmacology Society (BPS).

Dr Nuala Helsby

BSc(Hons) North Staffs, PhD (Liverpool), FBPhS


Dr Julie Lim is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physiology, The University of Auckland. She received her undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications from the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland with her PhD research supported by an AMRF Doctoral Scholarship. She then undertook post-doctoral training in the Department of Physiology, University of Auckland, under the mentorship of Professor Paul Donaldson, where she worked on identifying membrane transporters involved in the uptake of antioxidants in the lens. She was then awarded a Foundation for Research and Science Technology post-doctoral fellowship in 2007, a Sir Charles Hercus Health Research postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 and received the 2010 Zonta Women in Science Award. Julie’s current work focuses on understanding the development of age related eye diseases with a particular focus on the lens and lens cataract. Current projects involve investigating the interplay between reactive oxygen species and antioxidants to determine whether endogenous antioxidant defence systems in the lens can be harnessed to elevate antioxidant levels in the lens and delay cataract formation and AMRF funded work investigating inter-tissue cross talk between the lens and other tissues of the eye to maintain ocular health.

Dr Julie Lim

BSc, MSc, PhD (Auckland)


Anthony is a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the Department of Surgery at the University of Auckland. Currently he is the Academic Leader for the Biomedical and Applied Biology (BMA) division in the School of Biological Sciences. He is also Director of the Applied Surgery and Metabolism Laboratory (ASML) in the Department of Surgery, a cross-faculty research laboratory and training environment that is specifically dedicated to supporting surgeon’s undertaking PhD studies in basic science. Anthony has previously worked for the Auckland Hospital Liver Transplant Service on its organ retrieval surgical team and as Medical Director for an international biotechnology company. He has published in the fields of wound healing, liver transplantation, acute pancreatitis, critical illness, lymphatic pathobiology, microbiology, and energy metabolism. In addition to these research interests he has experience in clinical trials and commercial drug development processes through his work within the biotechnology sector.

Professor Anthony Phillips

BSc (Victoria) MBChB (Otago), PhD (Auckland)


Dr Raewyn Poulsen is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Auckland. Following completion of a PhD in Biochemistry at Massey University, she spent 5 years as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, UK investigating the cellular signaling events involved in musculoskeletal degeneration. After returning to New Zealand, she was awarded a Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship to continue her work on identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis. She serves on the editorial board for “Rheumatology” and is a Review Editor for “Frontiers in Pharmacology: Translational Pharmacology”.

Dr Raewyn Poulsen

BSc (Canterbury), MScHons, PhD (Massey)


Dr Hilary Sheppard is a Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell and Developmental Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. She obtained a BSc (Hons) from the University of Bath, UK and a PhD in Molecular Biology at the John Innes Institute, UK. Following post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Riverside, USA and University of Leicester, UK, she moved to NZ to work in industry with Genesis R and D prior to her current academic role.

With a background in gene expression and cellular differentiation her current research focus is on using targeted genome engineering technologies (such as CRISPR/Cas9) to enhance cells for use in the clinic by altering the expression of key molecules. This includes immune cells for improved cancer-targeting immunotherapies and, in an AMRF funded project, skin cells to create gene-edited patient-specific skin sheets for people with extreme fragile skin conditions.

Dr Hilary Sheppard

BSc (Hons) (Bath), PhD (East Anglia)


Professor Trevor Sherwin has published over 100 papers in top ranking journals including Nature, Science and Cell and has presented his work at many international venues including a prestigious open lecture at the Natural History Museum, London. Trevor’s research has received 7000 citations with an h-index of 42. Trevor's PhD students have gained high honours including ‘Vice Chancellor’s Prize for best Doctoral Thesis’ and ‘Best PhD thesis from the Medical Faculty'.

Trevor’s research team focuses on the use of regenerative medicine in treating eye disorders. Conventional medical practice has aimed at halting the progress of disease within the affected individual, but the patient is often left with some disability due to loss of function caused by the disease process. Regenerative medicine aims not only to halt the progress of the disease but to restore function back to the affected parts of the eye and thus restore sight including:

Stem Cell Research – Trevor’s team are using several different types of stem cells, including those obtained from adult eye tissues and cells obtained from umbilical tissue after birth to assess their ability to incorporate into eye tissue and restore functionality.

Cell Reprogramming – Trevor’s research is also looking at the ability of essentially turning back the clock on the existing cells from the patient by reprogramming them and restoring functions to the cells that were present during early development.

Bioengineering – Researchers within Trevor’s team have developed productive collaborations with materials scientists to develop new biological materials which are capable of mimicking the eye tissues that have deteriorated and thus replace them with bionic implants

Corneal Dystrophies – Elucidating the mechanisms behind the pathogenesis of corneal diseases, in particular keratoconus.

Professor Trevor Sherwin

BSc, PhD (Kent)


Dr Moana Tercel is a Senior Research Fellow and Associate Director for Research at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre in the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Auckland. She received her BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Auckland and her PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge. This was followed by postdoctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany. Moana has over thirty years’ experience in medicinal chemistry and in drug design and discovery. She has a strong interest in DNA alkylating agents and in methods to endow these with tumour-selective properties, such as the formation of hypoxia-activated prodrugs or antibody-drug conjugates.

Dr Moana Tercel

BSc, MSc (Auckland), PhD (Cambridge)


Professor Ashvin Thambyah joined the University of Auckland as a lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering in 2007 and is currently Professor and Head of Department. Before joining the University, he spent 10 years as a research engineer at the National University of Singapore. There he worked closely with orthopaedic surgeons on various aspects of musculoskeletal research and contributed to many clinical projects involving bone and joint disease and pathology. Most of Ashvin’s current research is in the musculoskeletal and biomechanics areas, and to the AMRF committee he hopes to provide expertise on the bioengineering aspects where required.

Professor Ashvin Thambyah

BS (Milwaukee), MS (London), PhD (Singapore)


Gergely Toldi is a senior lecturer in neonatology at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. He trained in paediatrics and neonatal medicine in Hungary and the UK. His research primarily focuses on early life development of the immune response and understanding the immunological background of complications affecting preterm and term neonates as well as pregnant women. He contributed to developing novel flow cytometry based diagnostic and experimental methods. He currently receives funding from an AMRF Project Grant investigating the role of short chain fatty acids in neonatal immune health and development. In his clinical role, he works as a consultant neonatologist at Starship Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Dr Gergely Toldi

MD, PhD (Budapest), FRCPCH, FRACP


Dr Srdjan Vlajkovic is an Associate Professor in Physiology at The University of Auckland. He is a Principal Investigator with the Brain Research New Zealand and Eisdell Moore Centre for hearing and balance. His main research interest is in the field of auditory neuroscience. He studies the cellular and molecular basis of inner ear homeostasis in conditions of stress and injury. His recent research focus is on the inner ear therapeutics and methods of drug delivery to the inner ear. He is leading internationally the field of adenosine signalling in the cochlea, and the translational research in this area.

Associate Professor Srdjan Vlajkovic

MBChB, MSc, PhD (Belgrade)

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