Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health

Dr. Dianne Sika-Paotonu

Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health

Phone: 04 463 6150
Location: CS714, Level 7, Wellington Hospital Clinical Services Block

Dr. Dianne Sika-Paotonu


PhD Biomedical Science – (Immunology)
MBMedSc(1st Class Hons) (Molecular Pathology)
DPH (Public Health)
PGCert (Education & Professional Development)
BBMedSc (Molecular Pathology)
BSc (Physiology)
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.

Current Research

  • Circulating tumour DNA for better cancer management: the application of precision oncology to the New Zealand Healthcare system
  • Immunogenetics of Rheumatic Fever
  • Benzathine Penicillin G (BPG) Reformulation
  • BPG Quality, Safety and Stability
  • Secondary Prophylaxis for Penicillin Pharmacokinetics
  • BPG Reformulation Preference.

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.