About us

The Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology team

The department is comprised of seven biostatisticians/epidemiologists, one health economist and a data manager.

Biostatisticians/Epidemiologists:

  • Alain C. Vandal
  • Nick Garrett
  • Steve Taylor
  • Priya Parmar
  • Mark C. Wheldon
  • Janet Pearson
  • Maheswaran Rohan
  • Philip Prah
  • Rose Sisk

Health Economist:

  • Braden Te Ao

Associate Professor Alain C. Vandal

The department is led by Alain who joined AUT in 2010. Alain is a biostatistician with expertise in survival analysis, categorical data analysis, and clinical trials. His current collaborations cover the areas of respiratory medicine, nephrology, rehabilitation, endocrinology, family violence, rheumatology, neurology and gambling.

Alain is jointly appointed between AUT and Ko Awatea (Counties Manukau District Health Board) at Middlemore Hospital, one of the largest tertiary teaching hospitals in New Zealand. 

His previous appointment was within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at McGill University (Canada), which he joined in 2000. From 2000 to 2010, he was also Project Director at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Community Studies, SMBD-Jewish General Hospital.

Dr. Nick Garrett

Nick joined the Faculty early in 2003. He has worked as the senior biostatistician (1994-2003) at one of the Crown Research Institutes (ESR) on communicable disease surveillance and epidemiology, occupational health, environmental health, and forensics research. He has extensive training and experience in statistical consulting. This has involved assisting in development of a wide range of health research projects, in particular with: study design, sample size, questionnaire design, collection of data, managing data, analysis of data, interpretation and presentation of data and statistical results.

Dr Priya Parmar

Priya joined AUT in November 2012. She completed a BSc specialising in Bioinformatics and MSc in Medical Statistics from the University of Auckland. She then worked at Queensland Institute for Medical Research before embarking on a PhD at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Priya’s PhD utilised methods from genetic epidemiology, biostatistics and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) paradigm to identify genetic precursors underlying hypertension. She led a working group from an international consortium meta-analysing genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on blood pressure in children and adolescents from several European cohorts. She also employed a gene-network model to assess and characterise the influence of the Insulin-like Growth Factor Axis (a key DOHaD pathway) towards blood pressure. Priya is jointly seconded to NISAN (National Institute of Stroke and Applied Neurosciences) where she analyses data from several projects focussing on neurological outcomes relating to traumatic brain injuries and stroke. She is involved in all aspects of these projects from the study design for trials, statistical input for grant proposals, data management and dispersal to conventional and non-conventional analyses to identify associations between disease outcomes and effects.  Priya is interested in utilising novel statistical approaches to analyse data in health and medical research, analysing the combination of genetic and environmental effects to help understand and explain the onset and prevalence of non-communicable diseases, as well as identifying ethnic disparities in disease predisposition, particularly in New Zealand.

Steve Taylor

Steve is a Senior Research Officer and his main role is as biostatistician for the Pacific Islands Families (PIF) study. His other role is as biostatistician for the wider faculty, providing statistics-related assistance to researchers and post-graduate students within the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences. He completed his MSc in Statistics at the University of Auckland with first class honours and has been with the Faculty since May 2009. He has a strong interest in good database design principles and the statistical analysis of large and complex data sets, including longitudinal data. These interests were developed during his actuarial career, working in life and health insurance companies, and have been further enhanced during his academic career. One of his key responsibilities within the Department has been to lead the co-ordination of the bi-monthly Biostatistics Clinics for the faculty.

Dr. Mark Wheldon

Mark joined AUT and the department in mid-March 2013. 

Mark has a PhD from the Department of Statistics at the University of Washington, USA. He has interests in Bayesian hierarchical modelling, the associated computational challenges, and applications to demography and social science. His dissertation research involved the development of a multivariate, Bayesian hierarchical model for the estimation of vital rates and population counts from fragmentary and unreliable data of the kind commonly available in developing countries. It involved close collaboration with demographers at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Mark’s interest in statistical demography came, in part, from his experience as an analyst working with census data at Statistics New Zealand.

As an AUT academic, he intends to continue working on the development of new statistical methods for demography and social science by maintaining research links with the UN. Mark is jointly appointed as a biostatistician at the Centre for Clinical Research and Effective Practice (CCRep, Middlemore Hostpital), Mark will be a key collaborator in investigator-led projects in health and medical research.

Janet Pearson

Janet joined the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in June 2014. She provides research and statistical support to members of the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology (including support for study design, data management, analytical design and data analysis) in regard to research and training projects, as well as providing statistical advice to Faculty researchers and postgraduate students. Janet graduated with an MSc (1st Class Hons) in Statistics from the University of Auckland in 2002. Since then she has had nearly 13 years of applied research experience, mainly on health-related topics, working in research teams at the Centre for Health Services Research and Policy,and at the Centre of Methods and Policy Application in the Social Sciences (both at the University of Auckland), before joining AUT.  Janet is committed to developing and applying her knowledge and experience for advancement of the public good.

Dr Maheswaran Rohan

Rohan joined the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, AUT in October 2014 and has a PhD from the Department of Statistics at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Rohan has developed a unified framework to compute robust statistics for various statistical models parameters. In addition, his applied research involves with medical statistics, ecological statistics and statistics education especially in how to teach statistics for non-statisticians. Currently, Rohan provides statistical training, and research and statistical support to members of the faculty researchers and postgraduate students.

Prior to joining AUT, Rohan was a Scientist with the Department of Conservation in Hamilton, New Zealand for nearly 8 years. Earlier he worked in a number of academic roles in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science at the University of Waikato, and Faculty of Science, Eastern University Sri Lanka.

Dr Braden Te Ao

Braden Te Ao (Waikato) is a Research Fellow in Health Economics at AUT and is jointly seconded to the Middlemore Clinical Trials team at Middlemore Hospital. He is a health services researcher whose interest includes access, quality and efficiency of health care technologies and services. In particular he has strong interests in evaluating the cost effectiveness of health care services and interventions aimed at reducing health disparities for vulnerable populations. Braden recently completed his PhD entitled “Measuring the economic cost of traumatic brain injury in New Zealand: A cost-of-illness study” with the National Institute for Stroke & Applied Neurosciences through AUT. 

Philip Prah

Philip joined the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in April 2017.
In 2009, he completed his MSc in Statistics with Applications in Medicine from the University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Since this time, Philip has worked as a statistician in multiple medical research institutions in the United Kingdom focusing on various research topics, namely, mental health, sexual health, ophthalmology, and infectious disease vaccinations. During his time at University College London, Philip was one of the Lead statisticians on the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) study, one of the largest scientific studies of sexual behaviour in the world.

On joining AUT as a biostatistician, Philip provides statistical advice (including support for study design and data analysis) to Faculty researchers and postgraduate students. He also works on several projects for the National Institute of Stroke and Applied Neurosciences (NISAN) and the Pacific Islands Families (PIF) study. At NISAN he analyses data from epidemiological studies and clinical trials concerned with neurological outcomes relating to traumatic brain injuries and stroke. Whilst the PIF study is concerned with understanding and addressing the social disparities, health outcomes and well-being of Pacific children and families

Last updated: 09-Aug-2017 10.24am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.