Our People

Member profiles

Prof Shanthi Ameratunga

Shanthi Ameratunga is Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Population Health. A paediatrician and public health physician by background, Shanthi leads a multi-disciplinary research program focusing on trauma outcomes, injury prevention and disability, with a particular interest in issues relating to young people. She is the principal investigator of the YourCall trial, a randomised control trial investigating the effectiveness of a text-based intervention to reduce problem drinking among people admitted to trauma centres. Other projects she has directed include the Traffic Related Injury in the Pacific (TRIP) project, a collaboration with the Fiji School of Medicine funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Health Research Council of New Zealand, and several projects examining causes and outcomes of injuries.

Professor
Email: s.ameratunga@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 6354

Prof Chris Bullen

Chris Bullen is a medically-trained public health medicine specialist and Director of the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI) at the University of Auckland. His research interests focus primarily on tobacco control and innovative smoking cessation interventions. He co-directed the,  Tobacco Control Research Tauranga national programme of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research to inform rapid smoking prevalence reduction. He is a co-author of the latest Cochrane reviews of nicotine replacement therapy,  e-cigarettes and mobile phones for smoking cessation. Chris led first international trial investigating the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation. His current research focuses on innovative ways to scale up tobacco cessation interventions in low and middle income countries and for people with mental ill health and addictions.

Professor
Email: c.bullen@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 4730

Dr Joanna Chu

Joanna is a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Health Innovation (NIHI). Joanna has a background in psychology. Her research interests lie in the health and well-being of adolescents, particularly in areas of prevention and intervention. She has gained extensive experience as a Post-doctoral research fellow at the School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, working on a number of community-based research projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of families in Hong Kong (e.g., conducting randomised controlled-trials, assessing needs of community stakeholders, evaluating brief community interventions, and designing household surveys examining health and information seeking behaviours). Joanna is keen to further her research in areas that promotes adolescent well-being and work with communities to translate evidence into real-world practice.

Research Fellow
Email: jt.chu@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 6390

Associate Professor Daniel Exeter

Dr Dan Exeter is an Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the University of Auckland. He is a quantitative health geographer and has a background in Geographical Information Systems and spatial analysis. Using large datasets such as the census or routine health databases, his research aims to identify, and provide solutions to inequalities in health. He is currently leading research to deliver a new measure of neighbourhood disadvantage in NZ, and was recently awarded Marsden funding to conceptualise socioeconomic position among the elderly population. He is a co-investigator on the HRC-VIEW programme of vascular risk research, where he leads the mapping component.

Associate Professor
Email: d.exeter@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 4400

Prof Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Felicity Goodyear-Smith is both an academic and practising general practitioner with a particular interest in the detection and management of risky lifestyle behaviours, including use of nicotine, alcohol, recreational drugs and gambling, and mental health issues in primary health care. Professor Goodyear-Smith is the Academic Head of the Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland and also holds the Goodfellow Postgraduate Chair.

Head of Department
Email: f.goodyear-smith@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2357

Assoc Prof Bridget Kool

Bridget Kool is an injury epidemiologist in the School of Population Health with an interest in the role alcohol and other substances play in injuries. She has been involved in research to assess the effectiveness of mobile phone based interventions to address binge drinking behaviours, a study examining risk factors (including alcohol and recreational drug use) for unintentional injuries at home and a study of unintentional falls at home (working-age population) – exploring the role of alcohol. She is currently working with a team to develop an alcohol risk communication tool for use in primary care.

Associate Dean
Email: b.kool@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 3871

Associate Professor Judith McCool

Judith McCool is a Associate Professor at the School of Population Health where she teaches on the Master of Public Health programme in global health. She also leads the School’s Global Health Group. Judith’s research interests include: global health, tobacco control, mass media, and social determinants of health. She has been a co- investigator on several tobacco control research projects, including: progressing tobacco control in Niue; appraisals of graphic health warnings on cigarettes packs, strategies to reduce smoking uptake and second-hand smoke exposure of N.Z. children; ‘Keeping Kids Smokefree’, a community intervention to reduce smoking among young people; as well as The NZ Youth Tobacco Monitor, a national cross-sectional study of youth smoking.

Associate Professor
Email: j.mccool@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2372

Dr Claire Meehan

Claire Meehan is a researcher and criminology lecturer at the University of Auckland, and she is currently working with researchers at the Centre for Mental Health research. Her research interests lie in young people’s drug use; how the media portray and engage with drugs, especially ‘legal highs’/ novel psychoactive substances; harm reduction; drug education; and the use of the Internet and Social Media/ Networking Sites as a tool for drug information, sale and virtual peer groups. Her PhD was an investigation into school-based drug education and harm reduction in Northern Ireland. Claire is also interested in the procedures schools have in place to safeguard the wellbeing of their pupils; direct-to-consumer advertising of antipsychotic medication in New Zealand’s mainstream media; and she has recently finishing working on a project investigating the Problem Solving Courts (including the Alcohol and Other Drug Court) in New Zealand.

Lecturer
Email: c.meehan@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9636

Associate Professor Vili Nosa

Associate Professor Vili Nosa is currently the Head of the Pacific Health Section, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. University of Auckland. He specialises in Pacific health research with a focus on the hazardous use of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other substances among Pacific people. He has worked extensively in New Zealand and in the Pacific region with his research role in specialising in Pacific alcohol and drugs research.

Associate Professor
Email: v.nosa@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 373 7599

Ms Sanya Ram

Sanya Ram is a pharmacist and a lawyer with a keen interest in the regulation of medicines and therapeutic products, as well as the examination of how medicines are used or misused. A Senior Tutor in Pharmacy Law & Ethics at the School of Pharmacy, Sanya is also co-author of the Pharmacy Law Guidebook (2012), an essential reference for the study of the legislation that underpins the practice of pharmacy in New Zealand.

Senior Tutor
Email: sanya.ram@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2619

Dr Simone Rodda

Simone Rodda is Senior Lecturer in Social and Community Health at the University of Auckland (School of Population Health) and an Honorary Research Fellow at Deakin University. She is currently leading multiple investigations involving the use of behaviour change strategies in brief interventions for addictive behaviours. Her work is informed by over 17 years work as a clinician, researcher and service manager in the field of addictions across smoking, alcohol, illicit drug use, and problem gambling.

Senior Lecturer
Email: s.rodda@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 6573

Dr Frederick Sundram

Frederick Sundram is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland and a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at North Shore Hospital. He was a research fellow at the Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where he completed his PhD in Neuroimaging. He has also completed a Masters in Healthcare Management from the Institute of Public Administration, Dublin and also, a Masters in Healthcare Informatics. His research interests include neuroimaging, suicide, epilepsy, psychosis, medically unexplained physical symptoms, addiction, medical education and healthcare informatics.

Senior Lecturer
Email: f.sundram@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 7521

Associate Professor Malcolm Tingle

Malcolm Tingle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Clinical Pharmacology in the School of Medical and Health Sciences. His research has focussed on the role of metabolism in toxicology and the development of in vitro and in vivo models to assess toxicity. In the field of addiction research, he has examined the pharmacokinetics of ‘party-pill’ constituents BZP & TFMPP and their potential for drug-drug intreactions.  He is jointly supervising a PhD student’s research investigating the pharmacokinetics of cytisine, a natural smoking cessation product and attempting to relate pharmacokinetics to the pharmacodynamic effects of this drug.

Associate Professor
Email: m.tingle@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 4949

Mrs Sam White

Sam White is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland, evaluating the University of Auckland Addiction Workforce Development Programme. Sam also works for Odyssey House as a General Manager (Improvement and Development),and has a consulting role to the CAMHAS service in Hauraki Coromandel (Waikato DHB) providing support for AOD clinicians working with adolescents and their whanau needing support to address AOD concerns. She has also held roles in Adult Mental Health and Addictions services.

Doctoral Candidate – Doctor of Philosophy
Email: s.white@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2823

Associate Professor Trecia Wouldes

Trecia Wouldes is a developmental psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine. Her main research and teaching interests are the development of infants at risk from prenatal drug exposure, and infant mental health. She completed the first systematic study in New Zealand on the effect of maternal methadone maintenance treatment on the physiological and psychological development of the fetus, the neonate and the infant.  Trecia is a co-investigator on a longitudinal study at the University of Canterbury investigating the neurological outcomes of infants born to mothers who were receiving methadone maintenance treatment for opiate dependence during their pregnancy. She is also the Director of the Auckland site of the Infant, Development Environment And Lifestyle (IDEAL) Study investigating the development of children born to mothers who used methamphetamine (P, Pure, Ecstasy, BZP) during pregnancy, led by Drs LaGasse and Lester at the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, Rhode Island. She is currently involved in developing new research that will investigate early biological and behavioural markers of prenatal alcohol exposure.

Associate Professor
Email: t.wouldes@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 6221

Assoc Prof Jo Barnes

Jo Barnes is Associate Professor in Herbal Medicines at the School of Pharmacy. She previously held teaching and research positions at the Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, University of London, UK, and the Department of Complementary Medicine, University of Exeter, UK. Jo’s research interests broadly include the utilisation, quality, efficacy and safety of natural health products (complementary /alternative medicines), particularly herbal and other traditional medicines. She has specific interests in pharmacovigilance of herbal medicines, in developing novel or modified methods to monitor the safety of natural health products, and in natural health products used in smoking cessation. Jo is an honorary consultant to the WHO Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring and is a member of its herbal safety signal review panel. She is an Associate Editor ofPhytochemistry Letters, and on the editorial boards of Drug Safety, International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, and Phytotherapy Research

Deputy Head of School
Email: j.barnes@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 3069

Dr Grant Christie

Dr Grant Christie, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, is a Child and Adolescent and Addiction Psychiatrist who has been working in outpatient and residential youth addiction services in NZ and Australia for over 15 years. He is passionate about improving the treatment of young people at risk of addiction and enhancing the management of co-existing problems (CEP) in mental health services and primary care. He has developed a number of youth addiction treatment resources that are used widely in NZ and further afield, and has acted in various advisory roles for the MOH in this area. Principal investigator in the design and testing of the Substances and Choices Scale (SACS), a youth AOD screening and outcome measurement instrument (available on www.sacsinfo.com), Grant has developed brief intervention training packages for primary and secondary health services and is expanding this work to look at youth addiction treatment via internet and app based modalities.

Senior Lecturer
Email: g.christie@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9640

Dr Louise Curley

Louise Curley is a pharmacist and Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy practice at the School of Pharmacy. Louise’s area of research focuses on the effects of recreational drug use in humans. She began her research as an undergraduate by investigating the subjective and electrophysiological effects of the Party Pill drugs BZP using electroencephalography (EEG) and graduated with a PhD in pharmacy in 2012. Her thesis investigated the effects of the main constituents of “Party Pills” benzylpiperazine (BZP) and trifluromethylphenylpiperazine (TFMPP) on executive functioning and reward using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Currently, her focus is developing new fMRI paradigms to investigate different aspects of risk, specifically by comparing populations of dependent versus non-dependent participants.

Senior Lecturer
Email: l.curley@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2255

Professor Benedikt Fischer

Professor Benedikt Fischer, PhD (U of Toronto) is the inaugural Hugh Green Foundation Chair in Addiction Research, Schools of Population Health and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland (NZ). He previously held research chairs at the University of Toronto (Addiction Psychiatry) and Simon Fraser University, Vancouver (Applied Public Health), and has ongoing academic collaborations in Canada and Brazil. Dr. Fischer’s multi-disciplinary, public health-oriented research program focuses on the socio-behavioral epidemiology and health outcomes of psychoactive substance use, including key co-morbidities (e.g., mental health, pain, infectious diseases), and evidence-based (e.g., prevention/treatment) interventions, with a strong interest in marginalized/high-risk populations. His scientific work is geared towards effective ‘knowledge translation’ and implementation. Professor Fischer’s research output include >375 scientific publications; he is a co-author of the books: ‘Cannabis Policy: Moving Beyond Stalemate’ (OUP, 2010) and ‘Drug Policy & the Public Good’ (OUP, 2nd ed., 2018). He is the lead-investigator of the internationally established ‘Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines’ (LRCUG) project. Professor Fischer has acted as a science-advisor to governments, research funding agencies and independent commissions/task forces internationally; he is a sought-after expert commentator in the media in his areas of research.

Professor
Email: b.fischer@auckland.ac.nz 
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 5224

Gayl Humphrey

Gayl Humphrey is a Research Fellow and Co-Lead for the Health Informatics and Technology Programme, at the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland. Her research is focused on identifying, designing and trialling opportunities for using mHealth innovations as enablers to enhance health outcomes in the context of people experiencing harms from addictions and from other non-communicable diseases.  She is currently working with colleagues on developing a mobile CBT programme for problem gamblers and undertaking a large RCT to test its efficacy.

Research Fellow
Email: g.humphrey@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9129

Dr Joanne Lin

Joanne is a pharmacist and Research Fellow in the School of Pharmacy. Joanne’s research focuses on the effects of recreational and prescription drug use in humans. Her doctoral research investigated the effects of methamphetamine addiction on the human brain, with a focus on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and pharmacotherapies for addiction. During her postdoc, Joanne conducted structural and functional MRI studies to investigate the effects of short-term opioid administration and withdrawal on the brain. Currently, she is involved in research to understand brain changes in recently abstinent methamphetamine users.

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Research Fellow
Email: joanne.lin@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 2255

Associate Professor Suresh Muthukumaraswamy

Suresh Muthukumarswamy is an Associate Professor in the School of Pharmacy and is funded in by a Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. Suresh’s research interests are in using brain imaging techniques (MEG/MRI/EEG) to measure the effects of drugs on the brain and behaviour. He has conducted brain imaging investigations of a number of recreational drugs including ketamine, psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and LSD.

Associate Professor
Email: sd.muthu@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 5398

Dr Rhys Ponton

Rhys Ponton is a registered pharmacist and has an extensive history in the treatment of drug misuse. His PhD research involved the characterisation of the processes that drug users in the UK use to prepare heroin and crack cocaine injections. He sat as the pharmacist representative on the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs in the UK chaired by Prof David Nutt. His research interests include the methods used to consume drugs and the risks they pose, prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse, and worldwide drug policy. ​

Professional Teaching Fellow
Email: r.ponton@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 7084

Dr Rodrigo Ramalho

Rodrigo Ramalho is a Professional Teaching Fellow in the Department of Social and Community Health at the University of Auckland. He previously held various teaching positions at universities in his country of origin, Paraguay. Trained as a psychiatrist, he has worked in private practice, hospitals, and community settings. Through both his academic and professional career, he has focused on contributing to the development of a person-centred and socio-culturally meaningful approach to health care. His current research interests include mental health, dangerous consumptions, tobacco control, and the psycho-social aspects of illness and well-being.

Professional Teaching Fellow
Email: r.ramalho@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 1443

Dr Peter Saxton 

Peter is Director of the Gay Men’s Sexual Health research group in the School of Population Health and the current New Zealand AIDS Foundation Fellow. He leads an ongoing sexual behaviour research programme and epidemiological studies of HIV and STI infection, in collaboration with the University of Otago and NZAF. This programme investigates recreational drug use among gay and bisexual men with a view to monitoring change over time in this population and exploring disparities. His interests include the relationship between drug and alcohol use and sexual health, sexual orientation data collection methods, and gay men’s health.

Senior Research Fellow
Email: p.saxton@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 9231434

Dr Katey Thom

Katey is an interdisciplinary social science researcher exploring the spaces where law, mental health and addiction interface. Katey co-directed the Centre for Mental Health and senior research fellow at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, until she joined AUT’s School of Law as a Senior Lecturer in 2018. Katey has lead a Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden funded project on the therapeutic nature of New Zealand’s specialist courts, which included a case study on the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts. She is currently leading a Borrin Foundation funded project to re-envisage the criminal justice system to better respond to people with intersecting mental health, addictions and criminal justice histories. Recently, she was awarded marsden funding to extend her research focus to working with service users and the police to improve police responses to citizens in mental distress in the community.

Senior Lecturer
Email: katey.thom@aut.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 921 9999 ext 7744

Ms Carina Walters

Carina Walters is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland studying prescription and over the counter opioid dependence. She has previously held a role as a senior addictions pharmacist at Community Alcohol and Drug Services in Auckland, and is a part time professional teaching fellow with the School of Population Health, teaching a postgraduate addiction paper. She has an interest in research in all areas of addiction, and has been an investigator in studies ranging from the treatment of amphetamine dependence to the potential role of community pharmacists in extending health services offered in conjunction with opioid substitution treatment.

Doctoral Candidate – Doctor of Philosophy
Email: cj.walters@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 9129

Associate Professor Robyn Whittaker

Robyn Whittaker is a public health physician and an Honorary Associate Professor in the National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health. Her research interests are in using mobile technologies to deliver health interventions directly to people. This has included text message smoking cessation programmes in NZ, Samoa, Cook Islands and other countries with the WHO ‘Be Healthy Be Mobile’ global NCD initiative. Her programmes have focused on behaviour change techniques that can be delivered using technology, for topics such as depression prevention, weight management, diabetes self-management, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. She is also the clinical director of innovation at the Institute for Innovation and Improvement at Waitemata District Health Board. There she is responsible for the Leapfrog programme of strategic projects that have been progressively digitising the hospital workflows.

Honorary Associate Professor
Email: r.whittaker@auckland.ac.nz