Leadership team


Nzso laid 200 x201

Dr Laird Cameron

Auckland Hospital

Laird Cameron is a Medical Oncologist specialising in lung, mesothelioma and head & neck malignancies. Following his BSc in biochemistry and MbChB at the University of Otago, Laird gained fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2015 while midway through a clinical fellowship at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Since 2016 he has been treating patients with lung cancer at Auckland Hospital. He leads the medical oncology lung team at Te Puriri o Te Ora in Auckland, is the NZ representative for Thoracic Oncology Group Australasia (TOGA, formerly ALTG) and the chair of the New Zealand Lung Oncology Special Interest Group (NZ LOSIG) which is associated with NZSO. He has a passion for any research that can improve the lives of his patients and he pursues quality research through several roles including as a principal investigator on several clinical trials at Auckland Hospital and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Oncology at the University of Auckland. His key areas of interest are lung cancer, precision oncology, equity and quality data. All of these areas need collaboration between clinicians and scientists which he sees as a unique strength of NZSO.

Vice President

NZSO Rachell Purcell

Dr Rachel Purcell

Senior Research Fellow, 2021 NZSO Roche Translational Cancer Research Fellowship Recipient

Dr Rachel Purcell is a Senior Research Fellow with the Department of Surgery. She has a background in molecular biology and cancer genetics. Her research is centered on the molecular mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria in colorectal carcinogenesis. Rachel's current research projects include investigating the effect of the gut microbiome on radiotherapy response in rectal cancer, microbiome-based markers of diverticular disease and molecular classification of colorectal cancer.

Executive Committee

Nzso heather cunliffe

A/Prof Heather Cunliffe

University of Otago

A/Prof Cunliffe heads the Molecular Oncology Group in the Dunedin School of Medicine, Pathology Department. Her research focus is in translational biomarker discovery and validation in aggressive subtypes of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. A/Prof Cunliffe completed her undergraduate training at Victoria University of Wellington and received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Otago. She then trained as a Postdoctoral Fellow from 1999–2004 in the Cancer Genetics Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute, at the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, MD, USA. In 2004, A/Prof Cunliffe joined the research faculty at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a not-for-profit biomedical research institute in Phoenix Arizona, where she headed the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Research Unit for 10 years prior to returning to the University of Otago.

NZSO Kimi Henare

Dr Kimiora Henare

Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri

Dr Kimiora Henare obtained a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Auckland, before completing an MHSc at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC) under the supervision of Professor Lai-Ming Ching. He worked as a Research Technician at the Liggins Institute for two years, before returning to the ACSRC for doctoral studies under the supervision of Professors Lai-Ming Ching and Cristin Print, focussing on targeting the tumour microenvironment for the treatment of melanoma. After graduating with a PhD in 2014, Dr Henare received a Health Research Council (HRC) Eru Pomare Postdoctoral Fellowship, which included two years in Professor Frank Jirik's lab at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and two years at the ACSRC in Professor Ching's lab. In 2019 he joined the Responsiveness to Māori team, in the Office of the Tumuaki and Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, and the Department of Oncology working as a Research Fellow in Professor Print's team on various clinical cancer genomics projects - including NETwork!, Genomics into Medicine, and the Rakeiora Programme.

Nationally, Dr Henare serves as a co-convenor and faculty member for the Summer internship for Indigenous Peoples in Genomics (SING) Aotearoa, a board member for Hei Āhuru Mōwai - Māori Cancer Leadership Aotearoa, and is the founding organiser and co-chair (alongside Dr George Laking) of He Akoranga Whakahoungia within the New Zealand Society for Oncology.

NZSO Chris Jackson

Chris Jackson

University of Otago

Chris Jackson is Professor of Oncology at the University of Otago, Dunedin, and a medical oncologist at Dunedin Hospital and Mercy Cancer Care. He treats patients with gut cancers and melanoma, teaches medical students and specialists-in-training, and is heavily involved in both national and international cancer policy and research.

He was previously the medical director of the Cancer Society of NZ, and his advocacy led to the funding of new cancer drugs, to the development of a new national cancer plan, and to the birth of the national cancer agency Te Aho o Te Kahu. He currently chairs the agency’s clinical committee and serves on the advisory board. In addition, he is on the programme board of the International Cancer Benchmarking Project, and is a founding member of the Common Sense Oncology movement.

He is a leading researcher in clinical trials in cancer, working with academics and companies to test and develop new treatments, and works alongside university lab groups to develop new tests for early detection of cancer and cancer recurrence, as well as methods for monitoring the growth of cancer or its response to treatment. He works with international groups on comparing clinical cancer outcomes between countries to identify how we can share information and learn from different cancer care systems to bring the best back to New Zealand.

NZSO Rob Mc Neill

Dr Rob McNeill

University of Auckland

Dr Rob McNeill (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer and health services researcher in the School of Population Health, at the University of Auckland. Rob has taught research methods for over twenty years and has expertise in both quantitative and qualitative methods, with much experience in conducting mixed- and multi-methods projects in the health sector, as well as extensive expertise in survey design. He also teaches in the areas of health inequities and social determinants of health. For the past fifteen years, he has been conducting health services research and evaluation projects in a wide range of health services, with his recent research focusing solely on cancer services. This work has had a strong focus on providing findings that inform service improvement and implementation of changes to maximise outcomes. Rob works closely with cancer services and is a member of the Northern region lung tumour stream. Rob is also the Special Interest Group Coordinator.

NZSO Elisabeth Phillips

Dr Elisabeth Phillips

University of Otago, Christchurch

Dr Elisabeth Phillips is a Research Fellow at the University of Otago Christchurch. She has a background in proteomics and cancer biology. Her research programme aims to better understand the impact that the tumour microenvironment has on cancer progression and metastasis. Her work has a particular focus on fat-rich microenvironment in several cancers including breast, ovarian and prostate.

NZSO Annie Wong

Dr Annie Wong

Wellington Blood & Cancer Centre

Dr Annie Wong is a NZ-trained consultant medical oncologist at Wellington Blood & Cancer Centre. Her oncological sub-specialities include melanoma, head and neck cancer, genitourinary and lung cancers. She is passionate about patient care, research and teaching. She completed her medical oncology training in Wellington and subsequently completed a medical oncology fellowship at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. During her fellowship she was inspired by the transformative outcomes with immunotherapy, and investigated novel biomarkers for melanoma immunotherapy as part of her PhD studies. She is a senior lecturer at University of Otago Wellington and an executive committee member of Melnet. Annie is thrilled to be support the partnership between patients, clinicians and scientists through NZSO.

Rules of the Executive Committee

The New Zealand Society for Oncology is governed by an Executive Committee. This committee consists of a President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer and three other members. The committee shall include the immediate past convener of the annual meeting and the convener of the next annual meeting. The committee shall have the power to co-opt such other persons as the executive committee considers appropriate. The office of the President may be held by one person for not more than two consecutive years, but after being out of such office for one year, such a person shall be eligible for re-election as President. The maximum term of office for all members of the executive committee (including President and Vice President) will be two years, except for the convenor of the next annual meeting who will be appointed for one year, and the following year will continue appointment for one more year as the Convenor of the last annual meeting. The common practice of the Society is for the Vice President to automatically become President on the retirement of the current President.

The members of the Executive Committee shall be elected at the Annual General Meeting by nomination and ballot. The Executive Committee shall have power to fill a casual vacancy on the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee shall annually appoint a Convenor to organise the annual conference and shall have the power to remove the convenor if the convenor is not adequately discharging their responsibilities.

2023 Conference Convener

Dr Paula Barlow, Hawkes Bay Hospital


Cameron Montague-Ebbs