Liggins Institute

How we're run

The Director of the Liggins Institute has overall responsibility for the operation and scientific direction of the Institute. He reports directly to The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor. He is supported by the Liggins Institute Advisory Board and an Academic Executive comprising senior academic staff.


Director, senior management and advisers

Director: Professor Frank Bloomfield

The Director has overall responsibility for the operation and scientific direction of the Institute. He reports directly to The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor.

He is supported in his duties by the Liggins Institute Advisory Board and an Academic Executive comprising senior academic staff.



Liggins Institute Advisory Board

Current Advisory Board members

Professor John Fraser – Dean, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland (Chair)
Professor John Hosking - Dean Faculty of Science, The University of Auckland
Professor Warren McNabb - Research Director, AgResearch
Dr Jeremy Hill - Director of Research, Science, Technology & Development, Fonterra Co-operative Group

Science Sub-committee
Professor Chris Cowell - Director, Kids Research Institute, Westmead, Sydney  (Chair)
Professor Mark Hanson - Director, Institute of Developmental Sciences, The University of Southampton
Professor John Newnham - Head of the University of Western Australia’s School of Women’s and Infants’ Health

Terms of reference

  • To support the Institute’s director and staff to achieve the Institute’s strategic and annual plan objectives.
  • To advise on the development of strategic direction for the Institute
  • To assist the Director in establishing and maintaining links with external stakeholders.
  • To conduct annual reviews on the performance of the Institute and advise on major issues
  • Advise the Vice Chancellor on succession planning and recruitment of a future Institute Director.
  • Advisory Board membership includes representation from key Faculties and Offices of the University of Auckland, strategic stakeholders and internationally recognised scientists.
  • The Advisory Board reports to the Director of the Liggins Institute.
  • Board membership, for an initial term of three years, is approved by the Vice Chancellor.
  • The Chair is appointed by the Vice Chancellor for an initial term of three years.

The Liggins Institute Advisory Board Science Sub-Committee consists of a small group of Advisory Board scientists who report to the Advisory Board and the Director of the Institute. The Chair of the Sub-Committee, in consultation with Sub-committee members, will recruit additional scientists to the Sub-Committee as required for specific tasks.

Liggins Institute Advisory Board Science Sub-Committee
Terms of reference

  • To advise on the quality of public good and commercial scientific research conducted by Institute groups and the Institute as a whole.
  • To advise on the strategic science direction of research groups and the Institute as a whole.
  • To advise on strategic research opportunities for the Institute.
  • To advise on strategic career development of academic staff.
  • To contribute to a biennial scientific review of the performance of the Institute’s research groups and research activities.
  • To provide expert assessment of major research grants.

Profiles: Liggins Institute Advisory Board members


Professor John Fraser

Professor Fraser is Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of Auckland where he was formerly Head of the School of Medical Sciences. He gained a PhD in biochemistry from Auckland University in 1983 and following postdoctoral research in immunology at Harvard University, he returned to New Zealand as the inaugural Wellcome Trust (UK) Senior Fellow in Medical Science.

Prof.Fraser received a personal chair in Molecular Medicine at The University of Auckland in 2000, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2005 for his work on superantigens. He has a long standing interest in immunity and infectious disease and particularly the mechanisms of virulence and pathogenicity of gram positive organisms, and in 2012 he received the Royal Society of NZ’s Sir Charles Hercus Medal recognising excellence in molecular and cellular sciences, biomedical science or clinical science and public health.

He serves on a number of national and international scientific bodies, boards and committees and is the Deputy Director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre of Research Excellence. Prof. Fraser is a strong advocate for the role of science in society and the importance of research-led teaching in medical education.


Professor Warren McNabb

Professor McNabb was appointed Research Director at AgResearch in 2011. He is also a Director of Pastoral Genomics and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, and Chairs the Steering Group of the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

Professor McNabb has previously held positions at AgResearch as General Manager of the Food & Textiles Group (2009 - 2011) and Section Manager of Food, Metabolism & Microbiology (2005 – 2009)

He joined AgResearch in 1993 as a Senior Research Scientist in the Nutrition and Behaviour Group where his research was focused on protein and amino acid metabolism in the productive tissues of ruminants. He was promoted to Eminent Research Scientist in 2004.

Prof McNabb has a PhD in Animal Science and a BAgSci degree with First Class Honours, both from Massey University. He is an Adjunct Professor and Principal Investigator in the Riddet Institute, a Centre of Research Excellence hosted by Massey University. His recent research focuses on nutrigenomics and nutritional epigenetics, and on food-host-microbial interactions and food for human health and wellbeing.

Prof. McNabb is a Fellow of the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and a Professional Member of the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc.


Dr Jeremy Hill

Dr Hill is Director of Research, Science, Technology & Development for the Fonterra Co-operative Group.

He has previously held a number of senior R&D leadership roles throughout the dairy supply chain including General Manager of Research and Development at the Livestock Improvement Corporation, Deputy Chief Executive of the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute, Fonterra General Manager of Manufacturing Innovation and Fonterra General Manager of Research and Technical Operations.

Dr Hill is or has been a member of Fonterra’s Strategy and Growth Leadership Team, Marketing and Innovation Leadership Team, Global Ingredients and Food Services Leadership Team, Regulatory and Food Assurance Council and Sustainability Leadership Team. He has also served as Fonterra’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and Food Assurance.He has undertaken general management training at the University of New South Wales and the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jeremy has a certificate in Company Direction and is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors.

Dr Hill has produced over 100 published papers and four patents and is currently a member of numerous dairy or food related governance groups.


Professor Chris Cowell

Professor Cowell is Director of Research for the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network and is a Senior Staff Specialist in the Institute of Endocrinology and Diabetes at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

He has been Director of Clinical Research at the Hospital since 2005, a part-time position created to help advocate for and develop clinical research and its infrastructure.

A clinical professor of the University of Sydney, Professor Cowell trained as a paediatric endocrinologist in Toronto and Sydney and has extensive clinical experience in diabetes, growth, obesity-related metabolic syndrome and disorders of bone metabolism. His major research interests are the prevention of metabolic complications of obesity in teenagers and the effects of disease states on bone mass and bone geometry.


Professor Mark Hanson

Professor Hanson is the founding Director of the Institute of Developmental Sciences at the University of Southampton, Director of the Academic Unit of Human Development and Health in the University’s Faculty of Medicine and British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Science.

His research concerns several aspects of development and health, ranging from how the environment during our development (before and after birth) can affect the risk of chronic diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity), through to population studies aimed at the early identification of risk, so that timely preventative interventions can be made. His research group is exploring the epigenetic processes which relate to such risks, and which may serve as valuable early life biomarkers. His Unit works on these problems in both developed and developing countries in many parts of the world.

Prof. Hanson is heavily involved in promoting public understanding of science and how evolutionary thinking applies to human biology and medicine. His recent books include Mismatch – the lifestyle diseases time bomb (2006), Principles of Evolutionary Medicine (2009) and Fat, Fate and Disease (2012) all published by Oxford University Press.


Professor John Newnham

Prof Newnham is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth Western Australia, and Head of the University of Western Australia School of Women’s and Infants’ Health and the Women and Infants Research Foundation. These organisations work together with the common goal of discovering ways to improve the health of women and babies. He has a career-long research commitment to the prevention of preterm birth and his research in this field now focuses on long-standing intra-uterine infection, in particular ureaplasma.

Professor Newnham trained in medicine at The University of Western Australia and pursued postgraduate training in obstetrics in Australia, South Africa, England and USA. His postgraduate training in maternal-fetal medicine included a two year fellowship at Harbor-UCLA and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, 1992-4.

During the 1980s he conceived and developed a perinatal sheep research program in Perth based on his introduction of ovine ultrasound-guided needle techniques, complementing the chronic catheterisation model. Along with Professor Alan Jobe, Professor John Newnham heads a major international research collaboration using the sheep model and investigating novel methods of preventing and treating preterm birth. These studies are now in their 22nd consecutive year and have resulted in world-wide changes in clinical practice.

Professor Newnham was also involved in studying the life-long implications of events before and soon after birth. In 1989 he was initiator and principal investigator of a major cohort study of 2900 Western Australian children followed from 16 weeks gestation to adulthood, designed to investigate the developmental origins of disease. Known as the Raine Study, this is one of the largest and most complete studies of its type in the world. The children in this study are now 20-22 years of age and remain under follow-up with retention of at least 70%.