An internationally-respected virologist, Prof Vernon
Ward, has been appointed as the next dean of the University of
Otago School of Medical Sciences.
Prof Ward (52), who heads the Otago microbiology and
immunology department, is excited and proud to be taking up
the post on October 1.
''The school is a fairly impressive place; it's got a lot of
strengths,'' he said yesterday.
''It can stand up on a world stage.''
''And that they've decided that I'm the person to run it is
quite an honour.''
The school comprises five big, research-intensive
departments: anatomy, pharmacology and toxicology,
physiology, biochemistry and microbiology and immunology.
It undertakes world-class research, ranging from medicine to
agriculture, and teaches 2400 equivalent fulltime students,
including undergraduate courses in science and health
science, and MSc and PhD programmes.
Taking on the job was an exciting challenge, Prof Ward said.
He was looking forward to working with staff to foster the
school's ''vibrant and active research culture''.
He was keen to further support academic teamwork and to
increase awareness of the school's achievements.
Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said Prof Ward was a
''widely respected biomedical scientist with a strong track
record in attracting research funding'' and a highly capable
Prof Ward said the school had an ''outstanding record'' in
attracting more than $20 million in national contestable
research each year. Its research ranges from fundamental
science to translational and commercial research.
A former co-convener of the university's Virology Research
Theme (2000-11), Prof Ward will continue his research
programme in his new role.
He gained his BSc (Hons) and PhD from Otago University,
graduating with the latter in 1987.
After holding postdoctoral positions at the Institute of
Virology, Oxford, England, and the University of California,
he joined the Otago department in 1993.
Associate Prof Pat Cragg has been serving as the school's
acting dean, since former dean Prof Helen Nicholson was
earlier appointed as pro-vice-chancellor, international.