Professor Kathryn McPherson
Professor Kathryn McPherson

24 November 2014

Experienced public health researcher Professor Kathryn McPherson has been appointed the new Chief Executive of the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC).

Professor McPherson, who is currently Professor of Rehabilitation (Laura Fergusson Chair) and Director of Person Centered Research (Rehabilitation) at AUT University, has worked in the research field for 16 years to improve the health of people with disabling conditions. She is author or co-author of more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Most of Professor McPherson’s clinical and research work has focused on rehabilitation for people who’ve had a stroke or traumatic brain injury; however, she has also explored key issues facing people with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain or life-threatening illness.

Professor McPherson says she is looking forward to working for the HRC, an organisation which she says has “huge respect in the health research community”. She’s particularly keen on supporting research that makes a difference to the health of New Zealanders.

“I want to do what I can to ensure that as a country, we facilitate the health research workforce here, and support the research we need if we are to be prepared for the host of health conditions we are facing in the next few decades.”

HRC Board Chair Sir Robert Stewart, KNZM, says the board is thrilled to have someone of Professor McPherson’s standing in the research community lead the HRC into the future.

“Kath has a wealth of experience in the health research sector and has had a strong working relationship with the HRC, having served two terms on the HRC Public Health Research Committee. As the HRC’s new Chief Executive, Kath has chosen to step back from her research and take on more of a stewardship role, where she’ll be a strong advocate for health research and health researchers.”

“The HRC Board believes Kath has all the skills and attributes needed to help the HRC attract, support and retain the best clinicians and health researchers in New Zealand.”

AUT Vice Chancellor, Derek McCormack, says that this is an excellent appointment for the HRC and reflects Professor McPherson’s record as a leader in health research.

“AUT is proud of Professor McPherson’s academic achievements and I’m sure she will excel in the new role," says Derek McCormack.

Professor McPherson, who will become an Adjunct Professor for AUT University, holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She has clinical experience in nursing midwifery and community health, and an academic background in psychology and rehabilitation. She is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Southampton and King's College London.

Professor McPherson will start her new role at the HRC in the new year.