Professor Helen Nicholson BSc(Hons) MB ChB MD(Brist)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, University of Otago
Professor in Anatomy, University of Otago

Otago University profile: View HERE

Otago University appointment as acting VP: view HERE and HERE


After graduating from the University of Bristol, Professor Nicholson worked as a doctor in hospital and community settings before taking up an academic position in the Department of Anatomy at Bristol. She moved to the University of Otago in 2000 to become Professor of Anatomy and subsequently became Head of the Department of Anatomy. In 2007 she was appointed Dean of the Otago School of Medical Sciences and in 2011 was the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) for six months.

Professor Nicholson was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) of the University of Otago in February 2014 and became the inaugural Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) in mid-2015. In January 2021, Professor Nicholson took up the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

Professor Nicholson is an elected member of the Executive of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists. She has been a member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Board and the Stakeholders Advisory Board of Education New Zealand. She is currently a member of the Council of the National University of Samoa, and the Governance groups for the Ageing Well and Healthier Lives National Science Challenges.

Professor Nicholson continues to maintain an active research programme and publishes in the areas of clinical anatomy, male reproductive biology and medical education. To date she has published more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and has supervised 22 PhD and 30 Masters and Honours students.

Media Projects
With Dr Paul Trotman, she contributed to the production of two television documentaries:
‘Donated to Science’ – view trailer here
‘Practising Medicine’.
She is currently working with Dr Trotman on his latest documentary:
‘Behind the Mask’ – view trailer here
that explores the responses of health professionals across the world to Covid-19

Recent Publications include:

Stevenson, E., Nicholson, H., & Smith-Han, K. (2022). Medical students’ experience of studying while working part-time and the effects of COVID-19. New Zealand Medical Journal135(1557), 38-48. 

Perumal, V., Woodley, S. J., Nicholson, H. D., Brick, M. J., & Bacon, C. J. (2022). Ligamentum teres lesions are associated with poorer patient outcomes in a large primary hip arthroscopy cohort of 1,935 patients. Arthroscopy, Sports Medicine, & Rehabilitation. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.asmr.2022.04.024

Flack, N. A. M. S., Frost, K., Aravazhi, S., Macmillan, A., Blyth, P., Woodley, S. J., Nicholson, H. D., Hurren, B. J., & Bird, R. J. (2022). “Thank you for your sacrifice, I will try to make sure your donation wasn’t in vain”: Undergraduate science students’ perceptions on the use of cadaveric material in learning anatomy. Education Sciences12, 451. doi: 10.3390/educsci12070451

Flack, N. A.M.S, Woodley, S.J, Nicholson H.D. (2022) Fibre type composition of the hip abductor muscles. Anatomy doi:10.2399/ana.21.978529

Kennedy, M.S., Nicholson, H. D., & Woodley, S. J. (2021). The morphology of the subacromial and related shoulder bursae: An anatomical and histological study. Journal of Anatomy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/joa.13603

Matthews R, Smith-Han K, Nicholson, H. (2020). From physiotherapy to the army: Negotiating previously developed professional identities in mature medical students. Advances in Health Sciences Education. 25, 607-627. doi: 10.1007/s10459-019-09942-0.
Perumal V, Scholze M, Hammer N, Woodley S, Nicholson H. (2020). Load-deformation properties of the ligament of the head of femur in situ. Clinical Anatomy. 33, 705-713. doi: 10.1002/ca.23492
Adstrum S, Nicholson H. (2019). A history of fascia. Clinical Anatomy. 32(7) 862-870. doi: 10.1002/ca.23371
Gould ML & Nicholson HD. (2019). Changes in receptor location affect the ability of oxytocin to stimulate proliferative growth in prostate epithelial cells. Reproduction, Fertility & Development, 31(6), 1166-1179. doi: 10.1071/RD18362
Perumal V, Woodley SJ, Nicholson HD. (2019). Neurovascular structures of the ligament of the head of femur. Journal of Anatomy. 234(6) 778-786. doi: 10.1111/joa.12979
Perumal V, Techataweewan N, Woodley SJ, Nicholson HD. (2019). Clinical anatomy of the ligament of the head of femur. Clinical Anatomy. 32(1) 90-98. doi: 10.1002/ca.23299
Flack NAMS, Nicholson HD. (2018) What do medical students learn from dissection? Anatomical Sciences Education 11 (4), 325-335 doi:10.1002/ase.1758
Reader KL, Marino FE, Nicholson HD, Risbridger GP, Gold EJ. (2018). Role of activin C in normal ovaries and granulosa cell tumours of mice and humans. Reproduction, Fertility and Development. 30(7), 958-968 doi:10.1071/RD17250
Flack, N. A. M. S., McClea, K., & Nicholson, H. D. (2017). Commemoration practices at Otago: Experiences from a bicultural society. In G. Štrkalj & N. Pather (Eds.), Commemorations and memorials: Exploring the human face of anatomy. (pp. 119-132). Singapore: World Scientific.