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Our story

The Public Health Communication Centre (PHCC) is dedicated to increasing the reach and impact of public health research, making it more accessible to the public and decision-makers.

The PHCC sits at the cross-roads between Aotearoa’s world-class public health research, public understanding, and evidence-informed policy. 

Researchers recognise the critical importance of effective communication to support the translation of their work into effective action. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of having good communication from public health experts to policy makers and the community in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

There are multiple areas where Aotearoa can benefit from evidence about how to build a healthy, equitable, and sustainable society. New research can improve how we respond to future pandemics, climate disruption, and other major threats; keep our waterways and air clean; minimise the harm of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs; and use the tax system and other economic tools to support these transformative changes.

The PHCC and its flagship publication, The Briefing, makes new public health research, commentary, and analysis accessible to a wider audience.

We are expanding to take advantage of new communication channels and build stronger networks with the media and policymakers.

The philanthropic support of the Gama Foundation has allowed the PHCC to employ a small group of staff. Given the scale of the challenges, the centre aims to operate in a highly strategic way in partnership with the many organisations and individuals who share the same goals.

We are an independent organisation hosted by the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago.


Our purpose

To effectively communicate public health research evidence in order to protect and improve the health, well-being, and equity of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and the health of the environment in which we live.

Our People

  • Michael Baker

    Prof Michael Baker Director

    Michael is a public health physician and Professor of Public Health as well as an award-winning science communicator. His research has focused on infectious diseases, environmental health, and housing and health.

    He provides a strategic focus to the PHCC as well as practical experience in writing and media engagement.

  • Nick Wilson

    Prof Nick Wilson Co-director

    Nick trained as a public health physician and has extensive research experience in communicable diseases and pandemics, as well as non-communicable diseases. He is regularly involved in media engagement and science outreach, and is editor of the Public Health Expert Briefing. 

  • Simon Hales

    Prof Simon Hales Co-Director

    Simon is a medical epidemiologist who specialises in environmental health issues including air and water pollution, climate change and social inequalities. He also has experience as a scientist, journal editor and consultant with the World Health Organisation.

  • John Kerr

    Dr John Kerr Science Lead

    Prior to his PhD in psychology, John spent five years working as a media advisor at the Science Media Centre. His research has covered public attitudes towards, and communication of evidence regarding a wide range of divisive scientific issues. John will work on understanding and engaging with the public health sector as well as contributing to communications and research.

  • Adele Broadbent

    Adele Broadbent Communications Lead

    Adele is a former RNZ senior current affairs journalist with extensive communications experience in the health and international development sectors. Adele engages with NZ media and other communication platforms to optimise the effectiveness of the Centre while working alongside the directors on strategy and advocacy for the Centre.

  • Fiona Taylor

    Fiona Taylor PHCC Administrator

    Fiona has an economics and project management background. She has experience in managing a public finance research programme and advisory board. Fiona is responsible for day-to-day management of the Centre.

  • Tim Chambers

    Dr Tim Chambers Senior Research Fellow

    Tim completed his PhD in Public Health. His research focuses on environmental health and infectious diseases. His current focus is on the acute and chronic effects of water contamination.

    Tim has engaged extensively with media and regularly contributes to The Briefing. Tim will work closely with PHCC staff to help reach the water quality objectives of the Centre.

  • Marnie Prickett

    Marnie Prickett Research Fellow

    Marnie has a background in freshwater ecology and agricultural science. She has worked as an advisor to government on freshwater policy and as chair of the Environmental Reference Group for state-owned farming company, Pāmu (Landcorp).

    Her focus at the PHCC is analysis of freshwater communication and policy, with a particular focus on drinking water source protection.

  • cristina cleghorn

    Dr Cristina Cleghorn Senior Research Fellow

    Cristina is a Public Health Nutrition researcher with a strong interest in sustainable nutrition and the prevention of chronic disease through diet, physical activity and tobacco control. She leads a Healthier Lives-funded project on assessing the health and environmental benefits of sustainable diets. Cristina sits on the Briefing Editorial Board. 

  • Emma Rawson-Te Patu

    Emma Rawson-Te Patu PHCC Editor (Tangata Whenua)

    Emma (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Raukawa and Ngāti Hauā) is the President-Elect of the World Federation of Public Health Associations. She is the director of ManuKahu Associates Limited, Indigenous Consultancy.  Emma is a researcher, an experienced facilitator and a proud health promoter. She sits on the Briefing Editorial Board.

  • Richard Edwards

    Professor Richard Edwards Advisory Board Chair

    Richard trained as a public health physician in the UK and came to Wellington in November 2005. He has over 20 years’ experience in tobacco control practice and research in the UK and New Zealand. He is co-director of ASPIRE 2025 Research Centre and co-director of the Whakahā o te Pā Harakeke research programme. Richard chairs the PHCC Advisory Board and also sits on the Briefing Editorial Board.

  • Dacia Herbulock

    Dacia Herbulock Advisory Board

    Dacia is Director at Science Media Centre of New Zealand. Dacia has extensive experience in radio, film, documentary and television news in the US, China and New Zealand. She is an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Science and Society group at Victoria University of Wellington and serves on the Executive Committee of the Science Communicators Association (SCANZ).

  • Teresa Wall

    Teresa Wall Advisory Board

    Teresa (Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri) was a member of the Ministry of Health executive team as the Deputy Director-General Māori Health. As director of Wall Consultants, she has focused on providing consultancy services to organisations to strengthen their Māori health and equity focus.

  • Boyd Wilson

    Prof Boyd Swinburn Advisory Board

    Boyd is Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health in the School of Population Health, University of Auckland. He trained as an endocrinologist but is now a public health physician. He conducts research on community and policy actions to prevent childhood and adolescent obesity, and reduce, what he has coined, the ‘obesogenic’ food environment

  • Richard Sutherland

    Richard Sutherland Advisory Board

    Richard is head of news for RNZ. He was previously head of broadcast news for Newshub 2012-2019, Director of Coverage at TVNZ from 2010 to 2012 and Managing Editor, Sky News New Zealand from 2007 to 2010.

    Prior to that he was editor at Newstalk ZB, and a radio reporter with IRN News.

  • Peter Griffin

    Peter Griffin Advisory Board

    Peter is a Wellington-based science and technology journalist with 20 years’ experience covering science, technology, media and business.

    He was a business reporter then technology editor of the New Zealand Herald before becoming the founding director of the New Zealand Science Media Centre from 2008-2018.

For Media

You are our key partners

If you are working on a public health story or looking for ideas, we are here to help. We can help with access to research, data, and experts, and are more than happy to offer background and feedback on ideas. We’re also open to working directly with media outlets on collaborative projects.

Get in touch

If you need any help you can contact us through either email or by phone. We are available after hours.

Contact details for individual authors of The Briefing articles can usually be found on their institutional profiles – linked on each briefing.

Stay in touch

If you want to be in on new research by our leading experts in public health SUBSCRIBE to the Public Health Expert Briefing. This will bring you the latest, timely research and expertise on issues of interest to your audience.

We will be producing regular newsletters with a wrap of new information available.

You can also keep up with the latest from the PHCC by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Use our articles

You are welcome to use or republish individual briefings—in part or in full—as long as you credit authors and the PHCC. As we are helping evidence-based research reach the media, wider public and policy makers, The Briefing is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (excluding photographs).

For researchers

The PHCC is dedicated to helping public health researchers promote and disseminate their research.

Our flagship, The Public Health Expert Briefing (ISSN 2816-1203), is a platform where public health researchers can share summaries of their research and its implications and insights with a wider audience.

Articles are considered 'quality assured' research outputs (specifically category D2 under PBRF criteria). This status is because all submissions are reviewed by editorial staff and a senior public health academic prior to publication.

We welcome contributions from across the entire spectrum of public health and population health research. This includes ‘issue’ articles focused on a specific topic or piece of research (800 words) or longer ‘explainer’ articles outlining a broader issue or area of research (2000 words).

Writing for the Briefing

Interested in writing an article for The Briefing? You can contact our editorial team at Guidance on drafting an article for the Briefing is available on request.

We aim to publish briefings that will be of interest to people with a broad interest in current public health issues, and we reserve the right to decline submissions that we do not consider are within scope. We suggest you send a brief synopsis or outline of your proposed briefing to the editorial team in the first instance so that we can indicate if it will likely be of interest.

Once published, your Briefing is automatically sent out to a large subscriber list. We will also work with you to get your article in front of stakeholders and the wider public with media engagement/releases where appropriate.

Depending on availability, we can also provide informal feedback, consultation, and support on developing communication plans and other forms of dissemination and engagement.

Get in touch with us to discuss at:

Get in touch

If you want to stay up-to-date with our leading experts in public health 
SUBSCRIBE to The Briefing.

We will be producing regular newsletters with a wrap of new information available.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

About the briefing

The Public Health Expert BriefingThe Briefing – is a platform publishing high-quality commentary and analysis from public health researchers.

The Briefing is a rebranded continuation of the successful Public Health Expert Blog which published hundreds of posts over the last decade. Previous posts from the blog are now archived here on the Briefing website. 

Set up in 2010 by Professors Nick Wilson and Tony Blakely, the Blog had a wide reach and was often reported on in media stories, and referred to in government reports, submissions and in Parliament.

The new-look Briefing continues this legacy of providing timely, trustworthy and accessible insights from public health research.  

Prof Nick Wilson is Editor-in-Chief, supported by the Briefing Editorial Board: Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Prof Richard Edwards, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Simon Hales. 


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