Leadership team


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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

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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 Chris H

A/Prof Chris Hemmings

Canterbury Health Laboratories

A/Prof Chris Hemmings is a “diagnostic oncologist” and Clinical Director of Anatomic Pathology at Canterbury Health Laboratories. She trained in Auckland and Christchurch then worked in various roles in Australia, and undertook fellowships in London (soft tissue pathology) and Boston (soft tissue pathology and molecular oncology), before returning to NZ in 2018. She has subspecialty interests in GI pathology and rare cancers including GIST and NETs, and she is Lead Pathologist for the Canterbury and West Coast Bowel Screen programmes. While working in Australia she completed a PhD studying radiation response in rectal cancer (School of Surgery, UWA). She is currently the RCPA Vice President for NZ and the NZ representative on the RCPA’s Cancer Services Advisory Committee, and she serves on the Council of Medical Colleges, the Clinical Assembly of Te Aho o Te Kahu, and the Scientific Advisory Committee of AGITG.

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.

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