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Otago Medical School Research Society
Fostering and promoting health-related research at the University of Otago

PhD Student Award – Rescheduled

Nau mai, Haere mai

Our PhD student finalists will present their mahi on September 22nd in the Barnett Lecture Theatre, from 5:00pm to 7:30pm.

Physical attendance will be limited to our judges, candidates and their support team, but if you wish to attend virtually you can join us by zoom at this link

Unfourtnately due to covid restrictions we won’t be able to provide catering for this event.

Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi

(With your basket, and my basket, the people will be well)

2021 Invited Speaker – Peter Williamson

The Otago Medical School Research Society are thrilled to announce Peter Williamson as our invited speaker for 2021.

Peter is Rautaki Hononga / Kaitakawaenga – Māori Strategic Framework Facilitator for the School of Biomedical Sciences and will be speaking on “Kaitiakitanga (caretakership) Today”.

Peter Williamson, Rautaki Hononga / Kaitakawaenga (Māori Strategic Framework Facilitator) at University of Otago

In the Māori world view, people originated out of the environment (Papatuānuku or mother earth).  Medicine has engaged poorly with this mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) treating human wellness separately to environmental wellness.  Although living in the same “dwelling” alongside Papatuānuku, western medicine has in the main, ignored its own science of contagion seeing people as impervious to her failing health.  This optimistic discussion proposes medicine will require a major focus on kaitiakitanga Māori for its credibility going forward.

We welcome you all to attend and learn from Peter on Wednesday 21st July at 5pm in the Barnett Lecture Theatre. Refreshments will be served.

Download the flyer

PhD Student Award 2021 – Call for Abstracts

The 259th Scientific Meeting of The Otago Medical School Research Society will be the PhD STUDENT AWARDS, which will take place from 5.00pm to 7.30 pm on Wednesday 18th August, 2021 at the Barnett Lecture Theatre, Dunedin Hospital

A prize of $1000 will be awarded for the best presentation and $500 for the runner-up, sponsored by The Otago Postgraduate Medical Society and The Otago Medical Research Foundation

Otago PhD students wishing to present a paper at this meeting should submit an abstract to the OMSRS Editor (  Up to ten abstracts will be selected for presentation at the meeting.

Please check the entry criteria and complete the coversheet included in this document.

Abstracts and supporting documentation must be received by the OMSRS Editor on or before Friday 23rd July 2021.

OMSRS Scientific Writing Prize

If you are a current student carrying out health or wellbeing-related research at the University of Otago with an interest in communicating your science to a wider audience, the Otago Medical School Research Society Science Writing Award is for you.

We want you, in no more than 800 words, to tell us why your research matters in a way that would interest a non-scientific audience. Tell us about your research and why it is important. Why does it interest you? Why should it interest the reader?  The winning article will be published by the Otago Daily Times. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize with the runner up receiving a $250 prize sponsored by Kainic Medical Communications.

Judging criteria

The judging criteria will be:

  • Does the article answer the question why does my research matter?
  • Does the article explain the writer’s research in a way that is easy to understand?
  • Is it a compelling read?

The article must be based on the research you are doing or have done as part of your degree, diploma or summer project. This could be on the whole of the project or on one aspect, but it should not be a general review of the area.

The piece should be aimed at a non-specialist audience; written at a level that an interested member of the public could understand while conveying the significance of your research or key issues.

The rules

  • The competition is open to all undergraduate or postgraduate students carrying out health-related research currently enrolled at the University of Otago.
  • Articles must have a single author, and only one entry per author will be accepted.
  • Articles must be submitted via the student’s University email address.
  • The article should be no more than 800 words. Pieces with more than 800 words will be declined.
  • A coversheet should include the title of your article, your name, email address, Department/School in which you are studying and your degree, a contact telephone number, and word count of your piece. Please use 12-point font without templates for the cover sheet.
  • The article should be text only: no diagrams or tables should be included. Please use a 12-point font and double line spacing.
  • Entries close at 5 pm on Monday 31st of August, 2021.
  • Articles should be emailed to with the subject line “OMSRS Science Writing Submission”. Articles should be attached and in the “.doc” or “.docx” file format.
  • The judges’ decision will be final.
  • The will be declared on Wednesday 6th October at 6pm in a prize giving ceremony at Hunter Centre atrium.
  • Any questions? Contact: Associate Professor Shyamal Das (

258th Scientific meeting, the 2021 Research Staff Awards.

The Otago Medical School Research Society  258th Scientific meeting, the 2021 Research Staff Awards, was held on 23rd June 2021.

Five speakers were selected:

From left to right:

  • Zhaoyang Xu (Dept. of Anatomy) – Three-dimensional somatotopic mapping of human trigeminal ganglion neurons in situ.
  • Shabah Shadli (Depts of Psychological Medicine & Psychology) – Right frontal anxiolytic-sensitive EEG ‘theta’ rhythm in the stop-signal task is a theory-based anxiety disorder biomarker. 
  • Teodora Georgescu (Depts of Anatomy & Physiology) – Prolactin modulates maternal aggression through action on neurons in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus.  
  • Kristina Smiley ((Depts of Anatomy & Physiology) – A novel role for prolactin in paternal behaviour. 
  • Paulo Pelicioni (School of Physiotherapy & Dept of Medicine) – Gold standard postural, balance and gait measures are reliable and valid to assess healthy older adults remotely. 

We congratulate Kristina Smiley on winning the $1000 prize for the best presentation of the evening.

Pictured: Kristina Smiley receiving her award from OMSRS President Assoc. Professor Gisela Sole.

Thanks go to the Otago Postgraduate Medical Society for donating the prize fund.

The First Winners of 2021

Half the year has whizzed past, but we are pleased to announce the first competition winners of the year.

For the Pat Cragg Summer Student prize held on 5th May 2021, there was a great deal of interest with 40 entrants!  The following 10 finalists were selected:

From left to right: Jenna Tidswell, Lauren Carr,  Haziq Aziz Shamri, Hua Shin Tan,  Cameron Young,  Hannah Coulter, Joanna Mainwaring, Kate Elgar, Portia Sutherland, and En Watanabe


First Prize – Hua Shin Tan (Dept of Preventive and Social Medicine) for a presentation titled Cannabis and small airway function in mid-adult life.  Sponsored by the Otago Medical Research Foundation

Runner-up – Jenna Tidswell (Dept of Medicine) for a presentation on Experiences of Using a New Blood Glucose Monitoring System in Māori Adults with Type 1 Diabetes – A Qualitative Study.  Sponsored by OMSRS

Pictured is Mr Hua Shin Tan and Ms Jenna Tidswell receiving their prizes from OMSRS President Assoc. Professor Gisela Sole.

That Was The Year That Was.

And what a year it was! A year when the world was besieged by a scary new virus – SARS-CoV-2, more commonly known as COVID-19.  As we plunged into the uncertainties of the pandemic response, it became clear that as nations we would need to employ a strategy of isolation, and that as researchers a new paradigm for continuing to work was required.

Enter the almighty Zoom application!  Most, if not all of us have become accustomed to our collegial environment suddenly looking like this…

… but in the beginning, there were some burning questions: What should I wear? Do I really look like that? Should I let people see the state of my home office or use a background? Which background?

Luckily our lockdown did not linger for too long, and we were soon able to reinhabit our more usual workspaces, but the experience demonstrated a number of positives – that we were adaptable, and that (mostly) we could be productive.  Lockdown revealed ways that we could work together, to connect, that will no doubt be useful in the future.

And so… bring on 2021…


OMSRS – now for a blog!

Welcome to the new weblog for the Otago Medical School Research Society.

While our previous webpage will remain as an archive, this weblog will bring you up-to-date news of coming events, as well as highlighting the winners of our competitions.

Out with old in with the new… but seriously, we thank those members of the committee who are leaving to pursue other agendas, as well as those who are staying on for another stint (perhaps in a new role), and welcome new members.  This year our new President is Assoc. Professor Gisela Sole (School of Physiotherapy), who is taking up the reins from immediate past President Dr Sarah Baird (Dept of Pharmacology and Toxicology).  A full list of committee members can be found HERE.

So, without further ado, on with the blog!