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Chair in OHNS Impact: The University of Auckland

Professor Richard Douglas (at back) with (L-R) Tary Yin, Brett Mackenzie Wagner, Raymond Kim, Joey Siu and Christian Lux (with pipette)
September 11, 2023 News

Funded by the Foundation in 2017, The University of Auckland’s Chair in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) has seen a terrific performance by its first professor in the role, Richard Douglas.

The purpose of the Passe & Williams Foundation Chairs is to establish internationally recognised centres of research and clinical excellence. This is achieved through the recruitment of world-class academic ENT clinicians into professorial roles. The University of Auckland is the first New Zealand university to receive Foundation funding for a Chair in OHNS.

During Richard’s tenure as Chair, he has:

  • Supervised a host of research PhDs, including those of surgical trainees, fellowships and MD theses.
  • Developed a carbon fibre support for an ENT surgeon’s forearm, amongst other surgical ergonomic work
  • Designed a mobile ENT clinic unique to New Zealand needs, with all equipment for endoscopy and audiology
  • Confirmed additional research support from prestigious funding bodies

Despite challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, Richard’s team were able to develop strong international collaborations with both industry and universities, such as:

  • Innoforce, the ENT database of which the Otology Module is now operational and Auckland and Starship hospitals
  • Lyra Biomedical, a bioengineering development company focused on the treatment of Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS)

The team also made significant advances to ENT research across various sub-specialties:

Richard has always ensured individual team members be recognised for their specific work that has helped build this lab into a hub of knowledge for New Zealand. The Foundation is proud to have funded projects and careers of many of the team, particularly those of the Academic Surgeon-Scientist Research Scholarship.

Richard and the team at Auckland have set high bar for the next professor to take the Chair, with the position now well-established to continue in perpetuity.

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