We invest in a broad range of research on issues important to New Zealand, and support the development of health research careers. Our mission is 'benefiting New Zealand through health research'.
Council members are appointed by the Minister of Health and are appointed initially for a term of three years. Half of the ten members are or have been engaged in health research, while the balance bring skills and experience in areas such as community affairs, health administration, law, management and knowledge of health issues from a consumer perspective.
The Council's governance responsibilities include:
- Communicating with the Minister and other stakeholders to ensure their views are reflected in the HRC's planning;
- Delegating responsibility for achievement of specific objectives to the chief executive;
- Monitoring organisational performance towards achieving objectives;
- Accounting to the Minister on plans and progress against them; and
- Maintaining effective systems of control.
The Council maintains an interests' register and ensures Council members are aware of their obligations to declare interests. The Council is committed to ensuring that all of its activities are conducted in a manner which meets the highest ethical standards.
The criteria for membership of the Council are outlined in Sections 8 to 11 of the Health Research Council Act 1990 and as amended by the Health Research Council Amendment Act 1991. Sections 6, 31 and 34 of the Act sets out the statutory responsibilities of the HRC, which relate to the functions of the Council, consideration of applications, and liaisons with other organisations.
Dr Lester Levy, CNZM, MBBCH, MBA, FNZIM, is the appointed chairman of Auckland Transport as well as the Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau District Health Boards. He is the Independent Chairman of Tonkin & Taylor and Professor (Adjunct) of Leadership at the University of Auckland Business School.
Lester is a graduate of Medicine and an MBA and has extensive management and governance experience in both the public and private sectors. He has been chief executive of South Auckland Health (now Counties Manukau District Health Board), the New Zealand Blood Service and the MercyAscot group of hospitals (of which he was a founder). His previous governance experience includes roles as Chairman of Boards of Directors in the domains of private healthcare, biotechnology and film and television production. Lester is best known for leading a number of organisational performance transformations as a Chief Executive, entrepreneur and Chairman, in both the public and private sectors.
Previously seconded to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as an advisor, Lester has been awarded the prestigious King's Fund International Fellowship from the King's Fund in London as well as being made a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management. He was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the 2013 New Year's Honours List for services to health and education.
Dr Lester Levy can be contacted via email.
Dr Harwood is Clinical Director for Tamaki Healthcare, a Māori led PHO in Auckland, and is completing her doctorate in rehabilitation medicine. Her work experience encompasses the fields of general practice, Hauora Māori, neuro-rehabilitation (stroke and traumatic brain injury) and respiratory medicine. She is Deputy Chair for Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa (Māori Medical Practitioners Association), sits on the Board for Asthma and Respiratory Foundation for New Zealand, and served nine years on regional Health and Disability Ethics Committees.
Elspeth Ludemann is a partner in a pastoral farming business in Oamaru; a former deputy chair of Waitaki District Health Services and a former chair of SAMS (Standards and Monitoring Services), a trust supporting and advocating for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Professor Mercer holds the Robert and Marjorie Webster Chair in Viral Pathogenesis, and is Director of the Virus Research Unit at the University of Otago, Dunedin. He leads a programme that combines research aimed at combating viruses with research seeking to exploit viruses for beneficial purposes. In 2009 Andrew was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in recognition of distinction in research and the advancement of science.
Dr Powell trained as a botanist, worked as a scientist and was research centre director in agricultural and horticultural research for many years. He has published over 60 refereed papers, mainly in international journals, and held senior positions in the Southern Regional Health Authority from 1993 to 1998. He has consulted widely on primary health care developments for the Independent Practitioners Association, Primary Health Organisations, District Health Boards and pharmacy organisations, and has been a director on the Otago Chamber of Commerce for many years. Dr Powell also owns and operates an export flower growing business in Wanaka.
Jeroen Douwes is Professor of Public Health and Director of Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research in Wellington. He obtained both his MSc and PhD in environmental epidemiology from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He leads a comprehensive programme of public health research with a focus on respiratory disease and environmental and occupational health. He is also Principal Investigator of the recently established Infectious Disease Research Centre at Massey University. Before joining Massey University in 2002 he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Otago University, Wellington, and Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Jeroen is Associate Editor of the International Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Suzanne Snively is an economic and business entrepreneurialism strategist. She was previously a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and is Managing Director of MoreMedia Enterprises in Wellington. A US citizen, Suzanne arrived in Wellington as a Fulbright Scholar serving on Fulbright New Zealand's Board for 17 years (Chairing for seven years). Suzanne was a Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, R A Hannah & Co and Wellington City 's Capital Holdings. She is currently on the Whitireia New Zealand, Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec), Diabetes New Zealand and Health Research Council of New Zealand Boards. Suzanne's New Zealand Order of Merit is for Services to Business and she was one of the 100 people honoured by the Queen in Women's Suffrage Year in 1993. Her memberships include the Institute of Directors, the Association of Economists and Global Women.
Professor Lesley McCowan is head of the Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland. She is a sub-specialist in maternal-fetal medicine at National Women’s Health, and her main clinical interests are in management of high risk pregnancies, especially those with fetal growth restriction and preeclampsia. She has chaired the perinatal mortality review process at National Women’s for many years and was a founding member of the national Perinatal & Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PMMRC) which reviews deaths of babies and mothers nationally.
Lesley is actively involved in medical research which aims to improve the health outcomes for mothers and babies. She is the Auckland principal investigator on the international SCOPE (Screening for pregnancy endpoints) Study which aims to identify women early in their first pregnancy who will later develop preeclampsia, preterm birth or have a growth restricted baby.
Another key research interest is prevention of stillbirth. She leads an HRC and CureKids-funded New Zealand study which aims to identify modifiable risk factors for stillbirth in late pregnancy, with a particular focus on the role of maternal sleep practices. Her research focus has recently expanded to include maternal obesity and the risk of complications for mother and child.
Associate Professor Pitama is a registered psychologist who has been involved in Māori health research for more than 18 years. She is a keen advocate for kaupapa Māori-based methodologies and has interests in child mental health, Māori access to quality health services, and indigenous curriculum development. She is Associate Dean Māori and Senior Lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch, as well as Director of the university’s Māori Indigenous Health Institute.
Professor Parry Guilford is director of the Cancer Genetics Laboratory and the Centre for Translational Cancer Research University at the University of Otago. He is a co-founder of the publically listed biotechnology company Pacific Edge Ltd and a deputy director of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.
Professor Guilford's current research interests include the genetics of inherited and sporadic cancers, in particular stomach cancer. Other active research areas are the development of genomic-based diagnostic tools for early cancer detection and personalised medicine.