After an international search, Professor John Fraser has been appointed as Dean of Medical and Health Sciences at The University of Auckland, becoming both the first alumnus and the first non-clinician to hold the position.
He heads New Zealand’s largest health research and professional training institution, with a 2012 roll of more than 4,000 students and 1,000 staff. The faculty is ranked in the top one percent of biomedical universities in the world.
Professor Fraser gained a BSc with honours at Victoria University of Wellington followed by a PhD at The University of Auckland, both in biochemistry.
His groundbreaking research in molecular aspects of the immune response was ignited during his postdoctoral years in the laboratories of Professor Jack Strominger at Harvard University, where his work led to the investigation of the structure, function and role in disease of superantigenic toxins. Professor Fraser’s research resulted in the now widely accepted model of how superantigens work.
On his return to New Zealand, Professor Fraser took up the first NZ Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship. In 2000 he was appointed to Professor, and in 2003 he was named to head up the faculty’s School of Medical Sciences, the largest biomedical research unit in New Zealand, and he also took up the position of deputy director of the University’s Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery. Professor Fraser has earned an enviable reputation as a world class scientist, researcher and teacher, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, says: “The University conducted an international search for the new Dean and was pleased to find the best candidate from within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. His appointment says a great deal about the excellent leadership development at the University when we are able to make such a senior appointment from the ranks of one of our own graduates and staff.”
Professor Fraser credits much of his success to building strong collaborations and developing long-standing and productive relationships across disciplines and institutions.
“The faculty is in a very strong position with an excellent and deserved reputation nationally and internationally for both our teaching and our research activity,” Professor Fraser believes.
“My goal is to strengthen this reputation further in every aspect across the faculty. Over the years we have expanded our teaching beyond medical training alone, educating today a range of health professionals attuned to New Zealand needs. In conjunction with our growing range of research activity, the faculty is directly addressing very real New Zealand issues with solutions that will improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.”
Professor Fraser succeeds Professor Iain Martin, Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences for six years, and becomes just the seventh Dean since the medical school took in its first class in 1968.