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Kudos for Amanda Oakley

Amanda Oakley Kudos Waikato Sotry

Dr Amanda Oakley, 63, was awarded the University of Waikato Lifetime Achievement Award at the awards ceremony at Claudelands Events Centre, on 5th September.

The Kudos Awards are the only regional science awards in the country and celebrate the Waikato’s outstanding achievements in science and innovation.

“Well of course I am tickled pink.  It is a great surprise and I am very honoured.”

Twenty-four years ago, Dr Oakley, a dermatologist at Waikato Hospital, created DermNetNZ, which has become a world renown resource of skin disease information.

 “When I registered, way back in 1995, there were only 22,000 websites registered worldwide and now there are billions.”

Still run from Hamilton, it is now the leading online resource in the world for dermatology and is visited by dermatologists, doctors and patients.  “I am probably one of the best- known dermatologists worldwide - believe it or not -and that is because of the website!”

Apart from short stints in Auckland and back in the UK where she earlier trained in medicine, Dr Oakley has spent her working life at Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, a place she calls ‘fabulous.’

“In the last 40 years, 36 have been spent at this hospital.  It is like a big family and I have felt that ever since.”

“I see old people, I see young people, I see unwell people and well people…skin lesions and rashes and a bit of surgery. It is ever so interesting and there is never a dull moment.”

Much of her time is working on the early detection and the complex treatment of melanoma and skin diseases.  It is a growing health problem as the population ages.   

Dr Oakley also works in private practice at the Tristram Clinic, is a contractor for MoleMap, and is an Associate Professor in Medicine at the University of Auckland. 

She has supervised and assisted countless medical students in their study and research projects.   “It has been a joy helping all these young people.” 

She also writes a monthly column in NZ Doctor and speaks at medical conferences around the world.  

As an early adopter of the internet and medical technology, Dr Oakley has also led moves to teledermatology – or transferring information between medical professionals. 

An electronic referral system has revolutionised treatment, meaning skin conditions can be managed through GP visits without the need for lengthy waits for hospital appointments.  

Explaining how it works, Dr Oakley recalls a time when a GP sent her an image of a skin complaint.   “I replied straight back and the patient was still in the GP’s room.”

Her career and global reputation has flourished from her Hamilton base.    “Why did I stick with Waikato?  It is so friendly.  It is forward thinking.  You can do anything if you want to.”

One of her goals is to recruit and retain more dermatologists into the profession as there is currently a shortage.    She is also continuing work on early detection of skin cancers.   “I have so much more to do, I am only getting started.” 

Other winners at the 2019 Kudos Awards:

  • Wintec Secondary Science Teacher/Educator - Lynnette Rogers, Kukutaaruhe Education Trust
  • Hill Laboratories Laboratory Technologist Award - Karen Thompson, NIWA
  • Hamilton City Council ICT Award - Dr Matthew Luckie,  University of Waikato
  • Datamars Engineering Science Award - Dr Lee Streeter, University of Waikato 
  • Kudos Science Trust Food & Ag Award - Farm Medix: Snapshot
  • Waikato Regional Council Environmental Science Award - Dr Drew Lohrer, NIWA
  • Waikato DHB Medical Science Award - Midland Trauma Research Centre

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