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Our executive leadership team

Our executive leadership team ensures HRC's policies and procedures are as robust and transparent as possible.

Professor Sunny Collings

Professor Sunny Collings

Chief Executive

Professor Sunny Collings became chief executive of the HRC in February 2020, following nine years as Dean and Head of Campus at the University of Otago Wellington. In this time, she has helped the HRC lead the research response to COVID-19 and has championed new initiatives to reduce health inequities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Sunny is currently focused on working with colleagues at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Ministry of Health, to implement Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Health Research Strategy. A significant part of this is making sure that health service providers are involved in research to help enhance and transform how healthcare is delivered, for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

A University of Otago graduate, Sunny has a background as a clinician and researcher, having practised as a Consultant Psychiatrist for over 25 years and led a research team at the University of Otago Wellington. Her own research has focused on suicide and suicide prevention from a critical perspective. Sunny has recently been appointed as a Director/Commissioner at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission which was established in February 2020 as one of the recommendations of He Ara Oranga - the Government inquiry into mental health and addiction.  

Ellen Campbell

Ellen Campbell HRC NZ

Director, Operations and Investments

Ellen is responsible for the implementation of our investment strategy through funding rounds and requests for proposals, awards and contract management, and for business operations including information management and technology, human resources, property, and health and safety.

Ellen joined the HRC in February 2021 and brings 20 years’ experience in research-intensive environments in New Zealand and the USA, including roles in scientific research, clinical research management, technical facility management, research commercialisation, and research operations and administration leadership. 

Dr Tania Pocock

Dr Tania Pocock HRC NZ

Director, Policy and Strategy

Tania is responsible for policy, strategy, evaluation, strategic relationships and communications at the HRC.

In her role she contributes to the development of policies, strategies, and priorities to maximise the impact of the public funds invested in health research and demonstrate the value of that impact to all stakeholders.

Stacey Pene

Stacey Pene HRC

Director of Equity, Māori and Pacific Health Research

Stacey (Ngāti Kahungunu) provides executive leadership to the organisation in all areas relating to the promotion of equity, including the development and implementation of policy, strategy, operations, and investment processes to advance equity, Māori health, and Pacific health. His role includes leading and developing national and international strategic initiatives and partnerships focused on equity and Māori, Pacific or indigenous health.


Lynne Bjarnesen

Chief Financial Officer and Director of Corporate Services