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Glenn Buchan

Glenn was initially a zoology student, but in 1978 he took a postgraduate diploma in immunology and became interested in immunology. He completed a PhD in the Department in 1984 and took up a postdoctoral fellowship at University College, and later at Charing Cross Medical Research Centre from 1985 to 1987 where he worked on the immunology of autoimmune diseases. In 1988 he returned to New Zealand on a Research Fellowship in the then Microbiology department's Deer Research Laboratory.  In 1993 he was appointed to the academic staff as a lecturer in immunology and was promoted to senior lecturer in 1996 and associate professor in 2002. His rising career was cut short by liver cancer and he died in 2008 at the age of 51.

His early research activities were focussed on the immune response to chronic disease and infection. Special areas of interest were the development of vaccines to tuberculosis and making vaccines work more effectively by manipulating the immune response with immune hormones or cytokines. He worked towards cloning and expressing cytokine genes and using these products in vaccines. The major research aim was to produce better vaccines by immunotherapy. In collaboration with MIT in Boston, a new recombinant BCG vaccine was being developed. This was tested in the USA for its protective effect against bladder cancer. Controlled field trials began in New Zealand in 1996-97 to determine its efficacy against tuberculosis.


Here is the obituary prepared in 2008 by Sarah Young, President of Otago Institute, Dunedin branch of the Royal Society of New Zealand -- a colleague and close friend.

Buck completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Immunology followed by a PhD in Immunology at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago. He spent from 1985 -1987 as a Postdoctoral Fellow at University College London and Charing Cross Hospital under the guidance of Professor Marc Feldmann, one of the world's leading Clinical Immunologists. During this time Buck began the research which eventually led to the development of the anti-TNF antibody therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. This antibody is now used as a front-line treatment for the control of Rheumatoid arthritis - over 6 billion doses of the antibody has been administered worldwide.

In 1988 Buck returned to the University of Otago and spent the next four years building a research platform in Molecular Immunology. In 1993 he was appointed Lecturer in Immunology in the Department of Microbiology, where he continued to advance his career, being promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1996 and Associate Professor in 2002. His most recent research focused on the development of new generation vaccines for chronic diseases of humans and animals.

Buck published more than 100 scientific articles in Immunology. He has worked closely with other leading Immunologists throughout New Zealand and internationally in Australia, Belgium, Japan, UK, Switzerland, USA.

His expertise in Immunology led him to act as a Consultant, Technical Advisor and Research Provider for the New Zealand Ministry of Health (immunization), Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, AgResearch, New Zealand Dairy Group, Fonterra, Lactopharma, NZ Animal Health Board and the Ministry of Agriculture. In addition, he was the NZ councillor on the Australasian Society for Immunology from 1998 until 2002, he was a former president of the Otago Institute, and he was founder and co-chair of Immunet (the University's special theme in Immunology).

As well as being a leading researcher, Buck made a pivotal contribution to the development of undergraduate theory and laboratory courses in Immunology throughout the curriculum at Otago. While he was an inspiring and effective lecturer he was at his most effective as a small group teacher and as a mentor and postgraduate supervisor. The commitment to his postgraduates is legendary, nobody showed more loyalty for their students or advocated with greater passion on their behalf.

Buck is survived by his wife, Kerry, and four sons, Tom, Sam, Charles and Jack.

In his later years Glenn became something of a media star and gave of his time and energies to local issues and newsworthy events. He had championed the twin causes of early childhood vaccination and increased funding for scientific research. His leadership qualities were reflected in the large number of governmental agencies and professional bodies of which he was a spokesman, negotiator and administrator. From 2003 he was elected Associate Dean of Research for the Otago School of Medical Sciences. His influence as an academic will forever remain embedded within the culture of the Department.


 Photo Gallery

Newspaper clippings from the Otago Daily Times

Funding boost -- Funding boost urged for science • Policy progress reliant on reforms

Cell sorter -- Cell sorter valuable addition

Epidemic should help -- Epidemic should help vaccination

Science needed -- Science needed, Hodgson told

Researchers given -- Researchers given grants worth $6.6m

Job losses at IRL -- Job losses at IRL ‘tragedy’ for science

Meningococcal B-vaccine -- Some facts: the vaccine’s safe, we need it, it works