14 December 2007
Prestigious Award For Cancer Control Leader
New Zealand Cancer Control Trust’s Executive Director, Professor John Gavin, has been awarded an honorary doctor of
science degree at the University of Otago.
The doctoral degree is the fourth awarded to Professor Gavin during a distinguished career in teaching, research and
community service spanning nearly 50 years. His doctorates include degrees of Doctor of Dental Surgery, Doctor of
Philosophy in Anatomy and Doctor of Science in Pathology.
Born and raised on a farm in Matamata, Professor Gavin had his formal secondary education at Matamata College. He
enrolled at the University of Auckland, and then transferred to Otago to study for his degree of Bachelor of Dental
Professor Gavin discovered early the rewards and fascination of research. During the next 40 years he was highly
productive and innovative in his research, delving into a range of topics, including heart valve grafts, the effects of
loss of blood supply to heart tissue and deafness following acoustic trauma. By 2000 he had published nearly 200
academic papers, and his research teams had won more than $2.8 million of grants.
Following overseas academic appointments early in his career, Professor Gavin was appointed Associate Professor
Pathology at the Auckland School of Medicine in 1970. His 30-year teaching and research career at the Medical School
included a variety of roles and responsibilities, including Head of the Department of Pathology and membership of both
national and international bodies. Since retiring from the Medical School, Professor Gavin has been an Emeritus
Professor of Pathology.
In 2001 he turned his energies to new challenges through his appointment as Executive Director of the New Zealand Cancer
Control Trust. In this role he assumed leadership in establishing a partnership between government and non-government
sectors to develop The New Zealand Cancer Control Strategy and its associated action plan. The aims are to reduce the
incidence, impact and inequalities with respect to cancer.
In 2005 Professor Gavin was appointed a member of the Cancer Control Council, an independent advisory body providing
strategic advice to the Health Minister and to the wider cancer control community. He is a life member of the Cancer
Society, in recognition of his service as inaugural chair of the Society's National Scientific Committee, and a Trustee
of the Genesis Oncology Trust.
Further information about the award ceremony published in the Otago Daily Times can be found at: