Leadership team


A/Prof Margaret Currie, Current President. University of Otago, Christchurch

A/Prof Margaret Currie is a Principal Investigator in the Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, Department of Pathology & Biomedical Science, University of Otago Christchurch. Her research has a strong clinical focus, and investigates various aspects of the tumour microenvironment during cancer progression. Margaret currently holds the position of Associate Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the University of Otago Christchurch (UOC).

NZSO Marg Currie

Vice President

Dr Laird Cameron, Current Vice President. 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.

Nzso laid 200 x201

Executive Committee

Dr Heather Cunliffe, University of Otago

Dr 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. Dr 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, Dr 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 heather cunliffe

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 Chris HEMMINGS 200h x 201w

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.

NZSO rachell purcell

Dr Alvin Tan, Waikato Hospital

Dr Alvin Tan is a consultant Medical Oncologist at Waikato Hospital, and practices in private at Braemar Oncology. He has a particular interest in genitourinary/prostate cancers and participation in oncology clinical trials. He is the primary site investigator for a number of collaborative and industry oncology trials being conducted at Waikato Hospital, and is a previous participant of the Australia & Asia Pacific Clinical Oncology Research Development (ACORD) Workshop. He is currently a member of the Waikato Cancer and Blood Research Governance Board, and member of the Aotearoa New Zealand Advanced Training Subcommittee for Medical Oncology.

NZSO Alvin Tan

A/Prof Logan Walker, University of Otago, Christchurch

A/Prof Logan Walker is a cancer geneticist at the University of Otago Christchurch. His research programme aims to better understand why cancer develops and to develop methods for evaluating the clinical significance of genetic variants. He is a member of several international groups tasked with improving variant classification, including the ENIGMA (Evidence-based Network for the Interpretation of Germline Mutant Alleles) Splicing Working Group Chair and Variant Curation Expert Panel, the ClinGen Hereditary Breast Ovarian and Pancreatic Cancer Variant Curation Expert Panel, the ClinGen Sequence Variant Interpretation - Splicing Sub-group, and the BRCA Challenge Steering Group.

NZSO Logan Walker picture

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.

2022 Conference Convener

Dr Tony Rahman, Canterbury District Health Board


Cameron Montague-Ebbs