An Adventist immunologist and biomedical scientist in the South Pacific Division has received a special honour.
Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu was awarded Woman of the Year by the US-based Association of Adventist Women (AAW). She was presented with the award in a special virtual ceremony on October 29.
“I was really surprised to have been considered for tonight’s award as I know that there are many other amazing women who work tirelessly and give so much of themselves to be of service to others,” said Dr Sika-Paotonu during her acceptance speech.
“Out of respect for those who do wonderful work and on their behalf, but also to the Association of Adventist Women, I thank you kindly for considering me as recipient,” she added.
An associate dean at the University of Otago, New Zealand, Dr Sika-Paotonu has received the Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Health Research Fellowship and is on the council of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.
Her research focus includes assessing the benefit of using a sea sponge extract in cancer treatment vaccines and reworking the formulation of penicillin used to prevent the recurrence of rheumatic fever.
AAW president and pediatric specialist Nerida Bates said she was impressed by the social justice issues of reformulating a medication for rheumatic fever—a disease that currently affects almost exclusively children in the developing world.
Dr Sika-Paotonu is an active member of the Wellington City Community Church and also serves as the president of the Adventist Student Association, a group of university students and young professionals that facilitate university student ministry in Wellington.