University of Otago

Upcoming Events

News & Events

Otago to host "D4 - Devices for Diagnostics and Drug Delivery" conference

The Formulation and Delivery of Bioactives Research Theme, in conjunction with the Consortium for Medical Device Technology (CMDT), the Centre for Bioengineering and Nanomedicine, and the NZ Chapter of the Controlled Release Society (NZ-CRS) are pleased to announce the D4 - Devices for Diagnostics and Drug Delivery Conference, to be held in Dunedin on the 26th and 27th November, 2014.

Call for abstracts closes Friday 3rd October.

Registrations close Friday, 21st November.

For more information:

Posted by Jo Cramond on 26/08/2014 at 12:00 AM

Microbiology and Immunology congratulates August graduands

Microbiology and Immunology graduands and their families enjoyed a glorious Dunedin day to celebrate the completion of their degrees on Saturday.

They were a part of the total of 370 Otago graduands who graduated in person, some of whom attended a celebratory brunch prior to the parade and ceremony.

The Department congratulates all of the following who represented us:


Hado Abdi
Xingyi Li
Raunaq Malhotra
Charlotte Middendorf
Khalid Sadat
Jamie Sands
Disha Sharma
Dewald Stickling
Shermaine Tong
Zoe Eckhoff (in absentia)
Mark Parry (in absentia)
Regan Ross (in absentia)
Timothy Young (in absentia)

BSc (Hons)

Louise Thorn
Simon Shirley (in absentia)


Kanokporn Tangthamvanich
Matthew Highton (in absentia)
Nicholas Shields (in absentia)


Bjorn Fowler (in absentia)


Shaun Ferguson (in absentia)


Khairundadwas Jemon
Glenn Walker

Professor Vernon Ward, Dr Glenn Walker and Professor John Tagg















Professor Vernon Ward (left) with PhD graduand Dr
Glenn Walker and his supervisor, Professor John Tagg.

Posted by Jo Cramond on 18/08/2014 at 12:00 AM

Brin Ryder awarded summer scholarship

Congratulations to 3rd year Microbiology and Immunology student Brin Ryder, who has been awarded the Formulation and Delivery of Bioactives Research Theme summer scholarship.

Brin will work on a project under the joint supervision of Dr Jo Kirman (Microbiology and Immunology) and Khaled Greish (Pharmacology and Toxicology).

Posted by Jo Cramond on 12/08/2014 at 12:00 AM

Professor Vernon Ward interviewed on local television

Head of Department Professor Vernon Ward was interviewed on Dunedin Television on Friday 8 August about his recent appointment as Dean of the Otago School of Medical Sciences.

Watch the 3-minute interview online here.

Posted by Jo Cramond on 10/08/2014 at 12:00 PM

Professor Vernon Ward appointed as Dean of OSMS

Professor Vernon Ward

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology has announced the appointment of Professor Vernon Ward to the position of Dean of the Otago School of Medical Sciences (OSMS). Vernon will be taking up the role on 1 October.

We wish Vernon all the best and look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.

The Department is hoping to appoint a replacement Head of Department in the coming months.

Read the press release on the University of Otago website.






Posted by Jo Cramond on 8/08/2014 at 12:00 AM

Microbiology postgrads gain scholarship funding

Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust

Congratulations to Rhodri Harfoot and Da Yuan Chen who have received funding from the Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust. The Trust encourages the development of health-related research in New Zealand by providing funds for research support as well as studentships, scholarships and fellowships for the research training of students and graduates working in the health science faculties of selected New Zealand universities.

Sandy Smith Memorial Scholarships

The Department also congratulates Htin Aung and Rowan Thomas who have been awarded 2014 Prof Sandy Smith Memorial Scholarships. These scholarships are administered by the Dunedin Basic Medical Sciences Course Trust and are awarded to students whose research has application to microbiology in relation to medicine.

Professor John M B (Sandy) Smith had an illustrious career in clinical microbiology. He graduated with an MSc in Microbiology at the University of Otago in 1961, completing his PhD under the guidance of Molly Marples in 1964. Sandy returned to the Department to take up the position of Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at Otago in 1967. His research included the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria, the pathogenesis and laboratory diagnosis of opportunistic mycoses and the potential use of vaccines in the control of ringworm infection. He retained an active interest and publication record in these areas for more than 50 years.

Posted by Jo Cramond on 7/08/2014 at 12:00 AM

Two Microbiology and Immunology projects funded by OMRF

The Department is well-represented in the results of the 2014 Otago Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) funding round, with 2 of the 7 successful bids. This year there were 38 applications, with the 7 projects investigating aspects of medical research in Otago receiving a total of $144,503.

Congratulations to Dr Robin Simmonds and Dr Heather Brooks, who have been funded for a joint project with Professor Kelly Doran from San Diego State University on the role of a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance in the pathogenicity of group B streptococci. Dr Jo Kirman will conduct research on Deciphering the memory T cell response to tuberculosis (TB).

Dr Joanna Kirman

Deciphering the memory T cell response to tuberculosis (TB)

JN Lemon Trust, $15,517

The current vaccine against tuberculosis (TB) is ineffective and an improved vaccine is urgently required. In order to develop a new vaccine we must understand the memory immune cells that drive protection against TB. Most new TB vaccines are being designed to stimulate memory CD4 T cell development; however there is no solid evidence to suggest that this is appropriate. We propose to determine whether memory CD4 T cells are required for protection afforded by vaccination by specifically removing these cells after vaccination and before an infectious challenge. This study will aid the development of new TB vaccines.

Kirman Lab research

Dr Robin Simmonds and Dr Heather Brooks, and Professor Kelly Doran (Department of Biology - San Diego State University)

Role of a bacteriocin-like inhibitory substance in the pathogenicity of group B streptococci

Southern Victorian Charitable Trust, $22,000

Group B streptococci (GBS) can produce serious invasive disease in humans. Knocking out bliS, a gene encoding a recently discovered GBS endopeptidase, yielded strains of GBS attenuated for persistence in a mouse model. This is the first time an endopeptidase has been shown to play a significant role in the persistence of infection of an animal host by a major human pathogen. This study will establish a biochemical basis for the role played by BliS in the persistence of infection and allow us to establish the potential for therapeutic applications for BliS in the prevention of GBS infections in humans.

Simmonds Lab research

Brooks Lab research

Posted by Jo Cramond on 6/08/2014 at 12:00 AM

Professor Greg Cook receives University’s highest research distinction

Microbiology and Immunology’s Professor Greg Cook is this year’s recipient of the University of Otago’s highest distinction, the Distinguished Research Medal.

Professor Cook has gained an international reputation for his innovative studies into bacterial physiology. This includes work towards developing a revolutionary class of antibiotics aimed at crippling the metabolism of pathogenic bacteria and side-stepping existing bacterial drug-resistance mechanisms.

The University awards the Distinguished Research Medal for outstanding scholarly achievement, including the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, the development of innovative technology, or the development of concepts that lead to significant advances.

Read the full story on the University of Otago website

Find out more about the Cook Lab research

Professor Greg Cook

Professor Greg Cook. Photo courtesy of Sharron Bennett

Posted by Jo Cramond on 4/08/2014 at 12:00 PM