Professor Jim Mann (CNZM) is an expert in human nutrition, diabetes and obesity. He has been Professor in Human Nutrition and Medicine at the University of Otago and Consultant Physician (Endocrinology) in Dunedin Hospital for 25 years. He is Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Human Nutrition, Director of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, Co-Director of the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre, and Principal Investigator for the Riddet Institute, a national Centre of Research Excellence.
Professor Mann has been involved in guideline development for numerous international and national organisations concerned with nutrition, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, several of which he has chaired or continues to chair. He has authored over 300 peer reviewed journal articles and written and edited several textbooks and popular books, including the Essentials of Human Nutrition. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Through his work with the WHO, Professor Mann has been visiting China since the 1970s for scientific meetings.
Professor Jim Mann in China in 1982 (front row, 4th from left)
Professor Wayne Cutfield is Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute, and an expert on insulin sensitivity and action in children. He leads clinical research which shows how environmental influences early in life can affect childhood growth and development in ways that could lead to chronic conditions in adult life.
Professor Cutfield is Director of A Better Start National Science Challenge and Science Leader of its Childhood Obesity research theme. He is a former Director of the Liggins Institute (2009 to 2015) and also of Endocrinology at Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital, where he was responsible for innovations in the care of children with hormone based conditions such as diabetes and growth disorders. He has been involved in the training of junior doctors in Paediatrics and Paediatric Endocrinology through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Endocrinology Specialist Advisory Committee. He was Chairman of the New Zealand Growth Hormone Committee from 2000 to 2009, and established the Maurice and Agnes Paykel Clinical Research Unit at the Liggins Institute.
Associate Professor Louise Parr-Brownlie (Ngāti Maniapoto me Te Arawa) is the Director of Ageing Well National Science Challenge. Louise joined the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago in 2010. Louise completed her undergraduate and doctoral training at the University of Otago, and was appointed as a Postdoctoral and Research Fellows (2003-2007) at the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Her internationally recognised expertise is understanding how brain cell activity controls movement and characterising changes associated with Parkinson’s disease. She is working with bioengineers to develop a light-based brain stimulation technology that may be used in the future to treat Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
Louise has recently extended her research programme to examine anatomical and physiological changes in the brain associated with chronic pain and to investigate Māori community perspectives of neurosurgical approaches to treat neurological disorders and traumatic brain injury. Louise has been an invited speaker at prestigious conferences in the United States, such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia) and Gordon Research Conferences. She is on the Māori Advisory Board for Brain Research New Zealand – Roro Rangahau Aotearoa Centre of Research Excellence, is the Secretary of the International Basal Ganglia Society Council and has been on the Executive Committee for Te Poutama, the University of Otago’s Māori Academic Staff Caucus.
Professor David Baxter’s research expertise spans the fields of rehabilitation, low back pain, complementary and alternative medicine, as well as laser medicine. Professor Baxter TD is Co-Director of the Ageing Well National Science Challenge. He is a Visiting Professor at Ulster University (UK), and previously led the University of Otago's multidisciplinary Research Theme on Rehabilitation and Disability (2007–2011). Professor Baxter has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed research papers in high-impact peer-reviewed journals, and contributed to various textbooks including DeLisa's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (5th edition). He is the Editor in Chief of Physical Therapy Reviews, and a member of the editorial boards of a number of other international peer-reviewed journals. He has been recognised as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, and the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery.
Dr Hu Zhang was originally trained as a medical doctor at the Bengbu Medical College in China and worked for 8 years (from 1984 to 1992) as a physician in the Anhui Chest Hospital in Hefei. After moving to New Zealand in 1992, he completed a PhD in biopharmaceutical sciences at the University of Otago in 1999. In addition to his current role as Research Collaboration Manager for the NZ-China NCD Research Collaboration Centre, he is also a Senior Research Fellow in the University of Otago’s School of Pharmacy, supported by a 5-year Health Research Council Programme grant.
Dr Zhang’s research interests lie in preclinical studies of bioactives, especially anti-ageing and central nervous system agents, in various animal models and the extrapolation of these results to humans, uptake of drugs into the brain, and the transport and metabolism of xenobiotics.
Outside work, Dr Zhang is active in the community, regularly providing advice and support to visiting Chinese students, scholars and visitors in the Otago region. He is currently President of the Dunedin Chinese Scholar and Student Association and a Board Member of Dunedin–Shanghai Association.
Fia Jephson Sandstrom joined the NZ-China NCD Research Collaboration Centre as an administrator in June 2017. Prior to this, Fia worked as an administrator for the educational centre at the Orebro Regional Hospital in Sweden, where she is originally from. She has also previously worked as a Coordinator at the research and development department of Atlas Copco, and as a Project Coordinator for Wellington based new media company CWA.