Research in the specialist area of urology will take a leap forward thanks to a $1 million donation and the arrival of a new Associate Professor of Urology at the University of Otago.

Dr Amir Zarrabi arrived in Dunedin from South Africa last month with his family. His position is based 0.5 at the Dunedin School of Medicine and 0.5 as a clinical consultant for the Southern District Health Board.

Dr Amir Zarrabi

Urology is the surgical speciality that focuses on the urinary tracts of males and females, and on the reproductive system of males. There is a worldwide shortage of specialists in this area and the University has been searching for years to fill this research gap.

In 2007, leading Otago businessman Trevor Scott donated $1 million to the University to endow the TD Scott Chair in Urology. Unable initially to fill the position despite a global search, Dr Zarrabi accepted the role of Associate Professor earlier this year.

Dr Scott says he’s extremely pleased that the position has finally been filled. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006 and is now in remission.

“I’m very glad that I can help fund this vital area of medical research.

“I had about 20 years helping manage the University’s commercial affairs, including chairing the Commercial Activity Board and working on the University Council, so now it’s great to be able to put something back into the University,” Dr Scott says.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says, “it’s wonderful to see that an appointment has been made and I’m delighted that valuable teaching and research can now be done in this field.

“I look forward to meeting Dr Zarrabi, and I am sure that all the University community and especially the Dunedin School of Medicine, are extremely pleased to see him join our staff,” Professor Hayne says.

Dr Zarrabi says the role appealed to him as he recently completed his PhD and wanted the opportunity to balance academic and clinical work, while his family was attracted to the lifestyle opportunities New Zealand offers.

“I am determined to make a difference to the clinical services offered in Otago and Southland.”

He says, “it’s been quite an adjustment coming from South Africa, but my wife and three children are looking forward to exploring some of this beautiful country”, and adds that his children are settling quickly into their new schools.

Dr Zarrabi specialises in male infertility and microsurgery. In his spare time, he likes to surf, hunt, and complete ultra-marathons.


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