Newsletters

Collaborative project on effective drug delivery by nanotechnology receives $1m Government grant

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From left to right: Dr Tinte Itinteang, Dr Swee Tan, Dr Eng Tan, Sean Mackay, and Dr Paul Davis

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) is helping to develop a smart drug delivery system that will see medications delivered directly through the skin rather than in pill form or as an injection.

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GMRI research potentially life-changing, says Wellington neurosurgeon

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Dr Agadha Wickremesekera

People with brain cancer could have better chances of survival thanks to preliminary research the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) has conducted into cancer stem cells in brain tumours, says Dr Agadha Wickremesekera, a neurosurgeon at the Wellington Regional Hospital and an honorary research associate of the GMRI.

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Aspiring to achieve an effective treatment for Dupuytren’s disease

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Dr Jim Armstrong

Hundreds of New Zealanders suffering from Dupuytren’s disease could ultimately regain the function of their hands and live normal lives, thanks to the work of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI).

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The GMRI lays foundation blocks for budding researchers

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Former GMRI summer students, Nicholas On (left) and Sabrina Koh

Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) summer students Sabrina Koh and Nicholas On have been working on medical research that could have an impact on millions of people world-wide.

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Publishing research is no small achievement

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Former GMRI summer
student Chelsea Grant

It’s not every day a 22-year-old has their research findings featured in a leading international publication, the Journal of Clinical Pathology.

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GMRI honours ‘shapers of lives’

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Dr Barbara Lovie (right), widow of the late Dr Max Lovie, commemorates the unveiling of his portrait with their children James, Sarah, Delisa and Caroline, and Dr Swee Tan

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Bill Ackland (left), widower of the late Christina (Tina) Ackland, celebrates the unveiling of her portrait with children James and Jane, and Dr Swee Tan

The eminent late plastic surgeon Dr Max Lovie and highly-regarded plastic surgery nurse, Christina (Tina) Ackland, whose work impacted on thousands of people, were honoured at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) recently.

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GMRI advances in vascular birthmarks showcased at international conference

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Dr Tinte Itinteang

Two years of hard work at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) was presented recently on the world stage at the 21st International Workshop on Vascular Anomalies.

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GMRI files a patent relating to vascular birthmarks

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A six-year old girl with venous malformation affecting the face

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) is planting its “stake in the ground” in relation to its work on vascular birthmarks.

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GMRI student research ‘far-reaching’

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Sam Siljee

Emily Kean

Emily Keane

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute (GMRI) has demonstrated that supporting budding science and medical researchers can achieve significant benefits.

Sam Siljee and Emily Keane are two of those success stories; they have recently co-authored a research paper which Sam says “is far-reaching in terms of the understanding of venous malformation”.

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Summer student on the home stretch to being published

Max Blackwell

Max Blackwell

Max Blackwell enjoyed his first stint as a Gillies McIndoe Research Institute summer student so much that he applied for a second time.

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Graham Langridge, founding board member, honoured

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Former GMF board member, Graham Langridge

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute has honoured the late Graham Langridge, a long-time supporter and board member of the Gillies McIndoe Foundation (GMF), which established the GMRI, by establishing a scholarship to support PhD students.

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Summer students experience “a different world” at the GMRI

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From the left, Elysia Tan, Sam Siljee, Therese Featherston, Nicholas On, Sabrina Koh, Helen Yu

An exceptional group of university students has participated in the 2015/16 Gillies McIndoe Research Institute’s summer student programme, sponsored by the Deane Endowment Trust.

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GMRI researchers discover process to treat excessive scarring

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Keloid scar affecting a child following burns injury

Fibrotic conditions, characterised by excessive bodily scar formation, affecting various organ systems, currently do not have satisfactory treatment.

But that could be a thing of the past thanks to researchers at the GMRI.

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Medical pioneers honoured at the GMRI

Gillies and McIndoe function

A number of special guests, including the Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman, attended the Sir Harold Delf Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe portrait unveiling

The ground-breaking work of internationally-recognised New Zealanders and pioneers of plastic surgery, Sir Harold Delf Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe, was recognised at a function hosted by the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, at which the Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman, unveiled specially-prepared portraits of the two men.

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Roger Donaldson to direct movie about Sir Archibald McIndoe

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The Guinea Pig Club director, Roger Donaldson

The life and work of pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe is to be made into a movie.

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Leading US medical researchers hosted by the GMRI

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From left: Dr Paul Davis, Professor Martin Friedlander, Professor Sheila Friedlander, Dr Swee Tan, and Dr Tinte Itinteang

In October members of Wellington’s medical and scientific community and the public attended lectures by two world-renowned American biomedical researchers, courtesy of the GMRI.

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Strawberry birthmark research success continues

GMRI Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Dr Jonathan Dunne

The GMRI’s latest strawberry birthmark research was recently presented at the Human Proteome Organisation World Congress in Vancouver.

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Assault victim meets the surgeon who rebuilt his face

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From left to right: Brian Fisher, Rebecca Dickinson, Dr Swee Tan, Peter Fisher, Noeline Fisher, Dr Tinte Itinteang (Courtesy of Maarten Holl – The Dominion Post)

A Martinborough man brutally beaten in 2012 has finally met the plastic surgeon who put his face back together.

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Adding another dimension to the GMRI

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GMRI Honorary Research Associate, Dr Kusal Wickremesekera

The GMRI has attracted another highly regarded person to work on cancer stem cell research, while at the same time securing significant expertise in a major new field of surgical research.

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It’s little wonder the GMRI takes a radically different approach

By NZ First Health Spokesperson, Barbara Stewart, MP

Barbara Stewart NZ First Party and Phillip Wakefield at GMRI Oct 2015 ph...

From left: GMRI Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Tinte Itinteang, GMRI Senior Research Fellow, Dr Paul Davis, Advisor to Barbara Stewart MP, Philip Wakefield, NZ First Health Spokesperson, Barbara Stewart MP, Dr Swee Tan, and GMRI Board Chair, Paul Baines

I would first like to thank Dr Swee Tan and his team at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute for inviting me to visit their fantastic facility to learn more about their exciting new research into cancer and other diseases. 

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GMRI celebrates All Blacks’ success

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Pictured left to right with the prized lab coat are Research Technicians Kirsty Mayall, Alice Chibnall, and Amy Bradshaw; and Research Nurse, Vickie Cameron

GMRI staff joined thousands of Wellingtonians in celebrating the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup victory at the welcoming parade on 6 November.

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GMRI’s work exciting, outstanding and exceptional, say dignitaries

Hon Peter Dunne

Hon Peter Dunne

Staff at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute were privileged to be visited by several local dignitaries in July, though the latter insist the pleasure was entirely theirs.

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The GMRI opens doors, says Research Associate

GMRI Honorary Research Associate, Dr Agadha Wickremesekera

GMRI Honorary Research Associate,
Dr Agadha Wickremesekera

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute opens doors for future biomedical research, for research students, and for the future treatment of cancers, says GMRI Honorary Research Associate, Dr Agadha Wickremesekera.

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Former GMRI summer students gain Honours degrees

Ranui Baillie (left) and Lucy Sulzberger

Ranui Baillie (left) and Lucy Sulzberger

Two former participants in the GMRI’s summer students’ programme have just been awarded Bachelor of Medical Science (Hons) degrees from the University of Otago.

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It’s a privilege to work with the GMRI team

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Chair of the GMRI and GMF, Paul Baines

“It is a privilege to work alongside such passionate and gifted people.  Swee and his colleagues are very capable and committed; I’m fortunate to be part of a team that is so focussed on achieving its aspirations.”

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Like father, like daughter

Alice Chibnall and father, Brett Chibnall

Alice Chibnall and father, Brett Chibnall

The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute is pleased to welcome Alice Chibnall to the team.

Alice joined us after completing her Masters of Science degree in biological science, in which she was awarded first class Honours by the University of Waikato.

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Dr Tan honoured as a World Class New Zealand Award winner

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The 2015 Kea Award winners: from back left: Tan Sri Halim Saad,
Dr Swee Tan, Beatrice Faumuina; from front left: Victoria Ransom,
the Rt Hon Helen Clark, Audette Exel

All of us at the GMRI, and our supporters and collaborators, are delighted that our Founder and Executive Director, Dr Swee Tan, has recently been the recipient of a prestigious Kea 2015 World Class New Zealand Award.

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GMRI a rewarding finale to a professor’s career

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Professor Reg Marsh

Professor Reg Marsh’s approach to ‘winding down’ in his later years is different than most – he spends his time volunteering as a biostatistician at the GMRI.
It’s not surprising, though, given the impressive 53 year career under his belt.
“I just want to do work that is interesting, and may be helpful to a wider part of the community,” he says.

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Life would be dull without a challenge!

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Dr Tinte Itinteang

Life would definitely be dull without a challenge, says the newly appointed Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the GMRI, Dr Tinte Itinteang.
Dr Itinteang has taken on the CSO role, succeeding Dr Paul Davis, who has stepped down from the acting role, but still remains active in the GMRI as a Senior Research Fellow.

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Stepping down, but definitely not out

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Dr Paul Davis

“The aim from my very first meeting with Swee 16 years ago was to set up a research institute. There have been highs and lows along the way, but we’ve finally achieved what we set out to do.”

So says Dr Paul Davis, who is stepping down as the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute’s Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) after filling the acting role for two years.

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It is ‘an honour’ to support the GMRI

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Dr Swee Tan with Nola Evans, during the Evans family’s visit to the GMRI

Rod Evans explains why the Evans family remain long-term supporters of the GMRI

The Evans family’s relationship with the GMRI began around 15 years ago when Dr Swee Tan performed an operation on Nola Evans, my mother, replacing a cancerous jawbone with part of her hipbone. The operation proved very successful and the family, like many others, is forever indebted to Swee.

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Health Minister visits GMRI facilities

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The GMRI’s newly appointed Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Tinte Itinteang, discusses the Institute’s research programme with the Minister of Health, The Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman

 

The Minister of Health, The Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, visited the GMRI premises in Newtown, Wellington, in late March at the invitation of the Founder and Executive Director, Dr Swee Tan.

“We were pleased to have an opportunity to brief the Minister on our aspirations and our discoveries to date,” Dr Tan said.

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New GMRI website now up and running

We invite you all to visit the GMRI’s new website.

The GMRI has developed a new website to better showcase its ground-breaking research and to engage on a more personal level with supporters who want to stay abreast of progress.

Chair, Paul Baines, says the website better positions the GMRI’s research focus and tells more of the story behind the Institute’s approach to research into cancer, fibrotic conditions, vascular birthmarks and regenerative medicine, based on the role of stem cells.

“Swee and his team at the GMRI are doing some remarkable work based on concepts that international experts consider to be ground-breaking.

“It’s important that our supporters feel they can engage with what the GMRI is doing, can stay abreast of developments and feel part of the journey.”

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Rotary clubs get behind the GMRI

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The past Governor of Rotary District 9940 and GMRI supporter, Pat Waite

Rotary clubs in New Zealand and Australia are being urged to actively support the GMRI.

GMRI Founder and Executive Director, Dr Swee Tan, has a long association with Rotary in New Zealand.

In addition to his work with the GMRI, Swee has provided surgical services for free to the Rotary Overseas Medical Aid Corps (ROMAC).

He was made a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow in 2008 and was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Rotary International Institute conference in Wellington.

The past Governor of District 9940 and the organiser of that conference, Pat Waite, says Swee’s keynote presentation was rated the best by conference delegates.

“Over 80 percent of those surveyed noted Swee’s presentation exceeded expectations, a remarkable result,” Pat says.

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The other side of nursing at the GMRI

Left, 10-week old Stevie Phillips-Paki with a large strawberry birthmark that also affected her eye-socket, threatening her vision. Right, Sophie de Jong with Stevie after treatment, underscored by discoveries made by the team at the GMRI

Left, 10-week old Stevie Phillips-Paki with a large strawberry birthmark that also affected her eye-socket, threatening her vision. Right, Sophie de Jong with Stevie after treatment, underscored by discoveries made by the team at the GMRI

Not many people can say they are involved in changing the way cancer is treated – so Sophie de Jong considers herself lucky to be part of that process.

Sophie, a Research Nurse, works at the GMRI, experiencing what she considers to be the “other side” of the profession.

“It’s an interesting challenge, being on the other side and dealing with science and research, rather than dealing directly with patients in a hospital,” Sophie says.

“It’s also extremely exciting, being involved with such ground-breaking work.”

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Board member inspired by the GMRI’s work

Jane Parker

GMRI board member, Jane Parker

“The GMRI has an absolutely inspiring story to tell, and I’m privileged to be part of it,” says Jane Parker, a GMRI board member and passionate advocate.

Jane is a lawyer at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, specialising in commercial law and projects with a focus on technology, contracting, intellectual property and governance.

Having done some pro bono work for the GMRI in the past, she was asked to join the board after another lawyer left.

Jane was “delighted” when Swee Tan asked if she was interested in filling the position.

“It was a great moment for me, personally and professionally,” she says.

“After my previous involvement with the Institute, I was very happy to join as it fits my personal values. Their goal is to reduce people’s suffering – how do you fault that?

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GMRI in novel philanthropic fund raising campaign

Rob Cameron

Rob Cameron

One of New Zealand’s leading investment bankers hopes to raise as much as $10 million to boost the GMRI’s research efforts.

Rob Cameron, who heads Cameron Partners, is one of this country’s most highly-regarded capital markets practitioners.

His remarkable track record includes chairing the Government’s Capital Markets Development Task Force, and assisting the birth of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund and the Government’s partial privatisation programme.

Made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list, Rob is now working closely with the GMRI on a novel philanthropic fund raising programme using capital markets techniques.

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The Hon Tony Ryall pays a visit

The Hon Tony Ryall with wife, Kara, and their daughter, Maisie

The Hon Tony Ryall with wife, Kara, and their daughter, Maisie

“The Gillies McIndoe Research Institute’s dream to use its knowledge about strawberry birthmarks to help destroy cancer is extremely powerful. And the co-location adjacent to Wellington Hospital recognises the enormous synergies possible when health science and research work together. The opportunities are indeed limitless.”

That’s the message from former Health Minister, The Hon Tony Ryall, who visited the GMRI with his family just before Christmas.

“It was really a great pleasure to visit with Swee Tan and the team to celebrate their first birthday on site,” Tony says.

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Summer students impress Lady Deane

Lady Deane and Sir Roderick with GMRI summer students from left, Ranui Baillie, Emily Keane, Max Blackwell, Dr Swee Tan and GMRI Chair, Paul Baines, Elysia Tan, Lucy Sulzberger and Sam Siljee

Lady Deane and Sir Roderick with GMRI summer students from left, Ranui Baillie, Emily Keane, Max Blackwell, Dr Swee Tan and GMRI Chair, Paul Baines, Elysia Tan, Lucy Sulzberger and Sam Siljee

One of New Zealand’s best known philanthropists is “terribly impressed” with the young students who have completed this year’s summer student programme at the GMRI.

Lady Deane visited the GMRI in late January to present certificates to the summer students who, she says, “should all be Young New Zealanders of the Year, they are so impressive”.

“These students are very excited about what they have achieved and learned over the summer break while being mentored at the GMRI.”

The programme allows the students to undertake projects at the GMRI, under the supervision and guidance of Dr Tan and his colleagues, from early November until the end of January, when they return to university studies.

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Lions Club to fund raise for the GMRI

Johnsonville Lions Club member and former president, Jim Ng

Johnsonville Lions Club member and former president, Jim Ng

The Johnsonville Lions Club has selected the GMRI as the focus for the Club’s 2015 fund raising campaign.

Club member and former president, Jim Ng, says the Club undertakes year-long funding campaigns for ‘worthy causes’.

“The GMRI certainly falls into that category,” Jim says.

“They are doing things totally differently and they deserve our support.”

The Club selected the GMRI after visiting the facility in Newtown late last year and receiving a presentation from Dr Tan.

“Our members get a lot of satisfaction from raising money for organisations that make a difference,” Jim says.

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‘Exceptional work’ inspires NZCT funding

Left to right – NZCT Grants Manager, Tony Gill, GMRI Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Paul Davis, NZCT Wellington Regional Advisory Committee Chairman, Paul Elenio, NZCT Chief Executive, Mike Knell, NZCT Compliance and Regulatory Manager, Rae Mazengarb, NZCT Chairman, Alan Isaac and Dr Swee Tan

Left to right – NZCT Grants Manager, Tony Gill, GMRI Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Paul Davis, NZCT Wellington Regional Advisory Committee Chairman, Paul Elenio, NZCT Chief Executive, Mike Knell, NZCT Compliance and Regulatory Manager, Rae Mazengarb, NZCT Chairman, Alan Isaac and Dr Swee Tan

In 2013, New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) acknowledged the value of the GMRI’s work by entering into a three year funding arrangement with the GMRI.

There are two reasons this is significant – medical research is not NZCT’s typical funding space and NZCT only makes multi-year grants in exceptional circumstances.  Chief Executive, Mike Knell, explains why the trust chose to support GMRI.

“NZCT is the largest funder of amateur sport in New Zealand with more than 80% of the $40 million we distribute annually going to sports organisations,” Mike says.

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Inspiring tomorrow’s medical research leaders

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Therese Featherston

Therese Featherston is about to turn 18.  This year she’s off to Auckland University to study biomedical sciences.  She wants to be a doctor and to develop a career in medical science research.

Last year she was placed first in the Year 11-13 class of the NIWA Wellington Regional Science and Technology Fair, and she received the Genesis Energy Leadership Award after participating in the Realise The Dream National Science Fair, which is supported by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

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The Wellys honour Dr Swee Tan

Dr Swee Tan (left) receiving the Science and Technology Award from Ray Wallace (right), Mayor of Hutt City. Photo credit: John Nicholson, The Dominion Post, Fairfax NZ

It’s not just Gillies McIndoe Research Institute supporters who acknowledge the wonderful work of our founder and executive director, Dr Swee Tan – he’s now been publicly recognised by the prestigious annual Wellingtonian of the Year Awards.

Dr Tan was recently named as the winner of the 2014 Wellingtonian of the Year Awards’ Science and Technology category and was described as being “greatly respected by the international medical and science community and his patients and their families for his pioneering work in vascular birthmarks and cancer”.

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Dr Swee Tan wins Medicines New Zealand Award for research

From left, Hon Heather Roy, Chair of Medicines New Zealand, Dr Swee Tan and Hon Peter Dunne

From left, Hon Heather Roy, Chair of Medicines New Zealand, Dr Swee Tan and Hon Peter Dunne

Swee Tan wins Medicines New Zealand Award for research

Dr Swee Tan has scooped the Medicines New Zealand 2014 Value of Medicines Award for his outstanding work treating newborn babies suffering from disfiguring and life-threatening strawberry birthmarks.

Medicines New Zealand’s $20,000 award aims to stimulate research and advance understanding, effectiveness or safety of the use of medicines or vaccines. Work nominated for the award must be of direct relevance to the current or future provision of healthcare in New Zealand.

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New health partnership to progress cancer cure

Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs’ chair, Dr Virginia Hope

Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs’ chair, Dr Virginia Hope

The GMRI has established a new health partnership with the Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, and Capital & Coast DHBs in a move that will translate laboratory research into radically improved treatment of diseases, including cancer.

The DHBs have signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the GMRI to promote close interchange, collaboration and sharing of ideas between leading DHB clinicians and the GMRI’s scientists.

“With persistence and the right environment, more effective treatment of many conditions can be found in the future,” Dr Swee Tan says.

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New research benefits babies

Cherise Tan

Cherise Tan

Parents of babies with strawberry birthmarks could have Cherise Tan to thank for making their children’s treatment safer.

A fourth year medical student at the University of Otago, Wellington, Cherise (22), has recently published her research in the prestigious Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Cherise’s article presents the results of using a low-dose propranolol regime for the treatment of strawberry birthmarks.

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Something in the water at the GMRI?

Frederica Steiner

Frederica Steiner

There must be something in the water at the GMRI – Frederica Steiner is the second summer student to have the research she conducted at the Institute recently published in prestigious medical journals.

Frederica (23) is in her final year studying medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington.

She has had two papers published, one in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery and the other in the ANZ Journal of Surgery.

Her papers assess the effects of treating venous malformation (VM), a type of vascular birthmark, with alcohol injections or surgery.

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GMRI’s Ranui Baillie wins top award!

ranuiGMRI research student Ranui Baillie has won the top award at the Tri-Society Head and Neck Oncology Meeting recently held in Darwin.

GMRI Executive Director, Dr Swee Tan, who was a two-term President of the Australian Head and Neck Cancer Society, was at the prestigious international meeting and heard Ranui’s presentation of her work on cancer stem cells in tongue cancer.

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GMRI Tissue Bank hugely important for research

GMRI Tissue Bank Governance Committee member, Dr Stuart Johnson

GMRI Tissue Bank Governance Committee member, Dr Stuart Johnson

The GMRI Tissue Bank, established early last year, is hugely important for research purposes and will lead to more effective future treatments for patients, according to Governance Committee member, Dr Stuart Johnson.

Dr Johnson is also the Head of the Pathology Department at Hutt Hospital, which performs the initial processing of much of the Tissue Bank tissue samples.

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Nick celebrates five years alive

Nick White at the finishing line on Mt Fuji

Nick White at the finishing line on Mt Fuji

Former cancer patient and ardent supporter of the GMRI, Nick White, has celebrated being alive for five more years by racing to the top of Japan’s Mt Fuji. The climb took him 4 hours and 45 minutes. The gruelling Mt Fuji Summit Race is held annually and only 50 overseas athletes are allowed to enter. “The experience was as difficult as it was satisfying. It still hasn’t really sunk in that I actually got to the top!” Nick says.

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