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Speakers and Biographies

Professor Wayne Cutfield


Wayne Cutfield is Professor of Paediatric Endocrinology at the Liggins Institute, and an expert on insulin sensitivity and action in children. He leads clinical research which shows how environmental influences early in life can affect childhood growth and development in ways that could lead to chronic conditions in adult life.  

A former director of the Liggins Institute, he is now Interim Director of the National Science Challenge: A Better Start - a cross-institution research programme based at the institute.   

Professor Cutfield graduated from The University of Auckland School of Medicine.  He is a former Director of Endocrinology at Auckland’s Starship Children’s Hospital, where he was responsible for innovations in the care of children with hormone based conditions such as diabetes and growth disorders. He has been involved in the training and administration of training of junior doctors in Paediatrics and Paediatric Endocrinology through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Endocrinology Specialist Advisory Committee.

Professor Cutfield was Chairman of the New Zealand Growth Hormone Committee from 2000 to 2009.  He established the Maurice and Agnes Paykel Clinical Research Unit at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. He was the institute's Deputy Director from 2007 to 2009, and Director from 2009 to 2015. 

Dr Barbara Cormack

Barbara is a New Zealand paediatric dietitian, Clinical Lead for the team of paediatric dietitians at Starship Child Health, Auckland City Hospital and Senior Research Fellow at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland. She specialises in the nutritional care of preterm babies and is known internationally for her leadership in neonatal nutrition and was a founding member of the Australasian Neonatal Dietitians’ Network. Her realisation of the gaps in evidence around neonatal nutrition led Barbara to her PhD at the Liggins Institute where her research centres on how nutrition affects the growth, development and the long-term health of preterm babies.

Professor Marion Hetherington

Professor Marion Hetherington holds the Thomas Ward Endowed Chair in Psychology, University of Leeds, and is Affiliate Professor in Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University.  An experimental psychologist by background with more than 30 years of experience researching human appetite including the psychology of food choice and the development of food acceptance in early life.  Marion received her first degree in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, then trained as a primary school teacher and then conducted her doctoral research at the University of Oxford.  During her DPhil degree she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to the Johns Hopkins University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship there and at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda before returning to the UK. 

She is deputy Editor-in-Chief of Appetite and has recently co-edited a special issue of the journal on the impact of COVID-19 on food intake, weight status and eating behaviour.   She is a trustee of the Give A Child A Hope charity which works in partnership with the Revival Centre, Matugga, Uganda to provide education and support to disadvantaged children.

Professor Lars Bode


Dr. Lars Bode is Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology and the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, the Larsson-Rosenquist Chair of Collaborative Human Milk Research, and Director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (MOMI CORE) at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Bode has been working on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) for over 20 years. He received both his Master of Science and PhD degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University Giessen, Germany, and completed a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, United Kingdom. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California, Dr. Bode joined the University of California, San Diego, where he is leading a research program dedicated to investigating human milk oligosaccharide biosynthesis and functions with potential benefits for infant health and development.

Dr. Bode has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles on human milk oligosaccharides, including the 2012 review “Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Every Baby Needs a Sugar Mama”, which has become the most cited research article in the field of human milk oligosaccharides. In 2020, Dr. Bode ranked in the top 2% of most cited scientists in the world in the category “Nutrition and Dietetics”.

Dr Ben Albert

Ben graduated in medicine from The University of Auckland School of Medicine in 2003 and began clinical work in Rotorua and later Whangarei before returning to Auckland. He is a consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Endocrinologist providing clinical service to Starship Children's Health. He completed his PhD at the Liggins Institute in 2017 entitled "Metabolic Effects of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids", and is now a Senior Research Fellow in the Liggins Institute.

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