Research Committee


Professor Tony Penington, MBBS FRACS

Professor Tony Penington graduated in Medicine from Melbourne University in 1985 and attained his RACS fellowship in Plastic Surgery in 1996.  Following 18 months in Oxford as a clinical and research fellow he was appointed consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne and the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne and Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Department of Surgery St. Vincent’s Hospital.  In 2003 he was awarded a Graduate Certificate in Health Statistics from Swinburne University of Technology. His specialist area of clinical interest is the management of vascular anomalies – haemangiomas and vascular malformations.  From 2008 to 2012 he was head of Plastic Surgery at St. Vincent’s Hospital and from 1999 to 2012 deputy director of the O’Brien Institute at St. Vincent’s where he studied the biology of vascular malformations and tissue engineering.

 In May 2012 he was appointed as the inaugural Jigsaw Chair Professor of Paediatric Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, The Royal Children’s Hospital.

Prof. Penington’s primary interest is in the biology of haemangiomas and vascular malformations which are tumours thought to be due to the disordered growth of blood vessels.  Vascular malformations are of various types depending on the blood vessels involved.  Recent work has found that lymphatic malformations, also known as cystic hygromas or lymphangiomas, appear to be caused by disordered behaviour of the vessel lining cells known as endothelial cells. These cells grow faster than normal lymphatic endothelial cells and are resistant to programmed cell death. Understanding vascular malformations will not only lead to better treatments for these deforming conditions, but also to a better understanding of the normal growth of the vascular system.  He also has a strong interest in tissue engineering, and in particular the role of new blood vessel growth in supporting engineered tissues for reconstruction of defects after trauma and cancer treatment.


Dr. Jeremy Simcock, FRACS, MD(Melb)

Dr Jeremy Simcock graduated from University of Otago in 1993 and is a New Zealand trained plastic surgeon (FRACS, 2002).  He gained an MD by research from the University of Melbourne for his thesis ‘Endothelial precursor cells in vascularised tissue engineering’ in 2005.  He took up a consultant post in Cambridge, UK before returning to a joint clinical and academic appointment in Christchurch, NZ in 2007.  His clinical interests are microsurgical reconstruction and hand surgery.  He has been appointed senior lecturer in Plastic Surgery at the University of Otago, Christchurch with interests in medical education, and skin cancer biology.


Dr. Marcus Wagstaff, MBBS, PhD - Molecular Biology, FRCS, FRACS

Dr Marcus Wagstaff graduated from University College Medical School London and attained his FRCS (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, England) in 2009. He subsequently attained his FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons) in 2012. He was awarded a BASO/BAPRAS interface fellowship in oncoplastic surgery, which he completed in 2008. His PhD thesis approaches the question as to whether overexpression of the heat shock proteins can protect neurons the stresses of heat shock, ischaemia and apoptotic stimuli. Dr Wagstaff currently practices as a Staff Specialist in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Burns at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. In March 2015 he was appointed as a Clinical Director to Polynovo Biomaterials Pty Ltd. 

Immediate Past Chair

Professor Swee Tan, ONZM MBBS FRACS PhD

Professor Swee Tan is the Director of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, Professor in Plastic Surgery at the University of Otago, and Director of Surgery at Hutt Valley District Health Board (HVDHB). He has been a Consultant Plastic & Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgeon since 1996 and was the Director of Plastic Surgery at HVDHB 2000-2006.

He is an elected member of 13 national and international professional and scientific societies.

Professor Tan is the Founder and Director of the national Centre for the Study & Treatment of Vascular Birthmarks. He is well known internationally for his research in vascular birthmarks and head & neck cancers. Recently, Professor Tan's research team at the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute discovered the origin of strawberry birthmarks being stem cells arising from the placenta. They also discovered that these stem cells are regulated by the renin-angiotensin system which underpins the novel treatment of strawberry birthmark with beta-blockers that leads to its dramatic regression. These discoveries have profound implications for the treatment of cancer and regenerative medicine.

He is a recipient of numerous Honours and Awards including ONZM for Medicine, Wellingtonian of the Year and numerous national and international awards.

He is an author of over 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals, books and book chapters and has delivered over 250 presentations at national and international conferences.

He is the Founder of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Foundation (now the Gillies McIndoe Foundation) which established the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute.