Dianne Sika Paotonu
PhD Biomedical Science – (Immunology)
MBMedSc(1st Class Hons) (Molecular Pathology)
DPH (Public Health)
PGCert (Education & Professional Development)
BBMedSc (Molecular Pathology)
Cert (Anesthetic Technology)
Dianne Sika-Paotonu is currently based at the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) in Perth Western Australia where she is an Honorary Research Fellow and the Scientific Lead for the Penicillin Research Programme working with the Group A Streptococcal Disease team based at the Wesfarmers Centre for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases. Selected projects within the TKI Penicillin Research Programme include: Benzathine Penicillin G (BPG) Reformulation, BPG Quality, Safety and Stability, Secondary Prophylaxis for Penicillin Pharmacokinetics and the BPG Reformulation Preference study.
Dianne is also an Associate Investigator working on projects such as “Towards a new long-acting penicillin formulation for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease“ and the National Science Challenge/Healthier Lives funded work “Circulating tumour DNA for better cancer management”, among others. She is also a member of the New Zealand based research team investigating the Immunogenetics of Rheumatic Fever connected with the Genome Wide-Association Study International Consortium.
Dianne completed her PhD in Biomedical Science at Victoria University of Wellington specializing in Immunology while based at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. While there Dianne was a member of the cancer vaccines team and undertook work that explored the modification of these vaccines to generate stronger immune responses against cancer. Her work showed that increased numbers of cancer-killing immune cells could be generated when synthetic compounds that mimic infected tissue were incorporated into the cancer vaccine preparation. Her work also highlighted the role of specific sub-populations of immune cells in generating these cancer killing immune responses. Dianne’s work overall aimed to improve of the potency of these cancer vaccines for the treatment of all cancers.
Dianne has received numerous awards for her PhD and other research work including the MacDiarmid New Zealand Young Scientist of the Year-Advancing Human Health & Wellbeing, Colmar Brunton Research Excellence Award, Australasian Society of Immunology BD Science Communication award, Asia Pacific Science Technology Studies Networks New Contributions to Science Technology & Innovation Award-Indigenous studies and the Australasian Society of Immunology Buck Memorial Award among others.
Dianne’s research interests include Immunology, Rheumatic Fever, Immunogenetics, Cancer and Pharmacology. Dianne is of Tongan descent and also holds strong interests in areas of health research relevant to Pacific populations living in New Zealand.
Benzathine penicillin G formulation preferences study
Project Aim: To explore the patient, clinician, provider and family formulation preferences for BPG
Investigators: Telethon Kids Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Otago, Regional Public Health
Collaborators: University of Otago, Regional Public Health, Compass Health
Benzathine penicillin G quality, safety and stability
Project Aim: To examine and assess the quality, stability and reliability of the global BPG supply
Investigators: Telethon Kids Institute, Curtin University, University of Western Australia, Victoria University of Wellington
Collaborators: International Contributors
Benzathine penicillin G reformulation
Project Aim: To develop a more appropriate BPG formulation that is less painful and longer acting for the treatment and prevention of Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease
Investigators: Telethon Kids Institute, Victoria University of Wellington
Collaborators: Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, Monash Institutes of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Benzathine penicillin G secondary prophylaxis pharmacokinetics study for the treatment and prevention of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease
Project Aim: To determine the pharmacokinetic characteristics of BPG in a paediatric population in Australia currently receiving monthly BPG injections for secondary prophylaxis for ARF and RHD
Investigators: Telethon Kids Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital, Victoria University of Wellington, PathWest Laboratories, Curtin University, University of Western Australia
Collaborators: Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research, PathWest Laboratories, Wesfarmers Centre for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases, Curtin University, University of Western Australia
Cancer management, treatment and practice in New Zealand and the Pacific
Project Aim: To explore cancer management practices and treatment pathways in the Pacific
Investigators: Victoria University of Wellington, University of Otago
Conserving matauranga in a therapeutic and rehabilitation landscape
Project Aim: To strengthen our understanding of the traditional knowledge bases of indigenous cultures with respect to health, rehabilitation and wellbeing
Investigators: Victoria University of Wellington
CtDNA for better cancer management: the application of precision oncology to the New Zealand healthcare system
Project Aim: To develop minimally invasive biomarkers for cancer detection, with an emphasis on circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) for melanoma and colorectal cancer
Investigators: University of Otago, University of Auckland, Counties Manukau DHB, Victoria University of Wellington
Experiences of Pasifika students undertaking Health Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington
Project Aim: To explore the experiences of Pasifika students undertaking Health Sciences at Victoria University of Wellington
Investigators: Victoria University of Wellington
Genome wide association study for rheumatic fever
Project Aim: To study the genetic susceptibility to rheumatic heart disease using more advanced genome-wide technology to analyse samples from around the world
Investigators: University of Otago, University of Auckland, Oxford University, Victoria University of Wellington
Understanding the role of skin sores and GAS pharyngitis in rheumatic fever
Project Aim: To provide critical missing knowledge about group A streptococcal (GAS) pharyngitis, GAS carriage, GAS skin infections, and potentially modifiable risk factors for these conditions
Investigators: University of Otago, University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, Doherty Institute, Telethon Kids Institute
Selected journal contributions
Petersen, T. R., Sika-Paotonu, D., Knight, D. A., Dickgreber, N., Simkins, H. M., Hermans, I. F. (2011). Exploiting the Role of Endogenous Lymphoid-Resident Dendritic Cells in the Priming of NKT Cells and CD8+ T Cells to Dendritic Cell-Based Vaccines. PLoS ONE 6 (3), e17657.
Delahunt, B., Sika-Paotonu, D., Bethwaite, Jordan, W. T., P. B., Magi-Galluzzi, C., Zhou, M., Samaratunga, H., Srigley, J. R. (2011). Grading of clear cell renal carcinoma should be based upon nucleolar prominence. American Journal of Surgical Pathology 35 (8), 1134-1139.
Delahunt, B., Srigley, J. R., D., Bethwaite, P. B., Miller, R. J., Sika-Paotonu, D. (2010): Re Fuhrman grade provides higher prognostic accuracy than nucleolar grade for papillary renal cell carcinoma, Letter to the Editor. Journal of Urology. 183, 2143-2147.
Petersen, T. R., Sika-Paotonu, D., Knight, D. A., Dickgreber, N., Farrand, K. J., Ronchese, F., Hermans, I. F. (2010). Potent anti-tumour responses to immunization with dendritic cells loaded with tumour tissue and an NKT cell ligand. Immunology and Cell Biology 88, 596-604.
Sika-Paotonu, D., Bethwaite, P. B., McCredie, M. R., Jordan, W. T., Delahunt, B. (2006). Nucleolar grade but not Fuhrman grade is applicable to renal cell carcinoma. American Journal of Surgical Pathology. 30 (9), 1091-1096. Selected for republication in the Urological Survey section of Journal of Urology (2007). 178, 79-81. This highlights 5 to 10 influential publications per issue.
Delahunt, B., Sika-Paotonu, D., Bethwaite, P. B., McCredie, M. R., Martignoni, G., Eble, J. N., Jordan, W. T. (2007). Fuhrman grading is not appropriate for chromophobe renal cell carcinoma. American Journal of Surgical Pathology. 31, 957-960.