Associate Professor Cass Ann Byrnes

MBChB, FRACP, MD (Auckland), GCCE (New South Wales)


Catherine (Cass) Byrnes is an Associate Professor in the Paediatric Department of the University of Auckland and a Paediatric Respiratory Specialist at Starship Children's Health.

After graduating from the School of Medicine at the University of Auckland, she undertook paediatric training initially in New Zealand followed by speciality rotations at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, Guy’s Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital, London. She ultimately trained in paediatric respiratory medicine at the Royal Brompton Hospital, National Heart and Lung Institute, London (now Imperial College London) completing an MD in 'NonInvasive Methods of Measuring Airway Inflammation'.

On returning to New Zealand as a Paediatric Respiratory Specialist she developed a number of national services; a respiratory and cystic fibrosis outreach programme of 28 clinics in 14 regional hospitals, the first paediatric fibre-optic bronchoscopy service, the first paediatric bronchiectasis service and a home respiratory support service for oxygen or machine dependant children. Currently she leads care for children and youth with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis.  

Cass has an especial interest in improving equity of healthcare and outcomes for children of Māori and Pacific ethnicity. Her major streams of research are in the prevention of the development of chronic lung disease following early lower respiratory tract infections and the prevention of disease progression in bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis. To this end she has developed a number of international collaborations enrolling nationally with findings translated into evidence-based care.    

Research | Current

My research focuses on the prevention of long term chronic lung disease – such as bronchiectasis - from early childhood pneumonia which especially effects Māori and Pacific Children. I have developed international collaborations with Australia (Aboriginal communities) and Alaska (First Nations communities) to trial a number of prevention strategies. I have also led a trial in South Auckland looking at preventing long term respiratory disease in children from disadvantaged communities which is now acting as a platform for a ‘healthy lungs’ programme.

In cystic fibrosis, I have led the PORT Cystic Fibrosis: New Zealand registry with annual publications and the newborn screening for CF. I have also developed international collaborations with Australia to look at the impact of bronchoscopy on early CF care and the longer term outcomes, and a trial to prevent early development of lung disease. I have recently been inovlved in an opinion piece 'The Future of Cystic Fibrosis' a Lancet commission.     

Teaching | Current

Co-director of the two week FRACP Residential course 2010 – current run annually to prepare senior registrars for the Paediatric FRACP examination. This course caters for 80 registrars from Australia and New Zealand. Since 2012 the course is fully booked within 5 minutes of the registration going online.

Supervisor of RACP registrars, house officer, trainee interns and Paediatric diploma candidates. Support teaching in paediatrics with lectures and workshops as part of the undergraduate programme.   

Previously Director Undergraduate Paediatric Programme 2001-2006 achieving accreditation for the programme by the Australasian Medical Council.

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised PhD and masters candidates in research encompassing the themes above including supervising the PhDs for three of my now respiratory specialist colleagues at Starship.


2014 Paediatric Head of Department Distinguished Teaching Award

2006 Teaching award in Paediatric Teaching – voted by 5th Year Medical Students

2000 Teaching award “Best Lecture 2000” – voted by 5th Year Medical Students

Areas of expertise

  • Māori children's respiratory health
  • Pacific children's respiratory health
  • Outcomes of early childhood pneumonia
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Pneumonia

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Founding Trustee, Bronchiectasis Foundation, Pehiaweri Marae, Tikipunga & Northland District Health Board
  • Chair, PORT CF: NZ Registry, Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand,, Christchurch
  • Chair, Clinical Advisory Panel, Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand,, Auckland
  • Chair, Cystic Fibrosis Child & Youth Clinical Network, Paediatric Society of New Zealand. 
  • Member, Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme Technical Group, Ministry of Health (Manatu Hauora)
  • Member, Cystic Fibrosis Advisory Panel, PHARMAC,, Wellington
  • Member, Editorial Board, New Zealand Formulary for Children,, Dunedin
  • Co-convenor, Cystic Fibrosis Special Interest Group, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, Sydney Australia
  • Member, Organising Committee, Congress of Paediatric Pulmonology,, France

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Harun, S. N., Wainwright, C. E., Grimwood, K., Hennig, S., Cheney, J., George, N., ... Armstrong, D. S. (2019). Aspergillus and progression of lung disease in children with cystic fibrosis. THORAX, 74 (2), 125-131. 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-211550
  • Bell, S. C., Elborn, J. S., & Byrnes, C. A. (2018). Bronchiectasis: Treatment decisions for pulmonary exacerbations and their prevention. Respirology (Carlton, Vic.), 23 (11), 1006-1022. 10.1111/resp.13398
  • Chang, A. B., Marsh, R. L., Upham, J. W., Hoffman, L. R., Smith-Vaughan, H., Holt, D., ... Torzillo, P. J. (2015). Toward making inroads in reducing the disparity of lung health in Australian indigenous and New Zealand Māori children. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 310.3389/fped.2015.00009
  • Chang, A. B., Bell, S. C., Torzillo, P. J., King, P. T., Maguire, G. P., Byrnes, C. A., ... Grimwood, K. (2015). Chronic suppurative lung disease and bronchiectasis in children and adults in Australia and New Zealand. Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand guidelines. Medical Journal of Australia, 202 (1), 21-23. 10.5694/mja14.00287
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Kolbe, Conroy Wong
  • Moodie, M., Lal, A., Vidmar, S., Armstrong, D. S., Byrnes, C. A., Carlin, J. B., ... Robertson, C. F. (2014). Costs of bronchoalveolar lavage-directed therapy in the first 5 years of life for children with cystic fibrosis. Journal of Pediatrics, 165 (3), 564-569.e5. 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.05.031
  • Singleton, R. J., Valery, P. C., Morris, P., Byrnes, C. A., Grimwood, K., Redding, G., ... Mobberly, C. (2014). Indigenous children from three countries with non-cystic fibrosis chronic suppurative lung disease/bronchiectasis. Pediatric Pulmonology, 49 (2), 189-200. 10.1002/ppul.22763
  • Valery, P. C., Morris, P. S., Byrnes, C. A., Grimwood, K., Torzillo, P. J., Bauert, P. A., ... Mobberley, C. (2013). Long-term azithromycin for Indigenous children with non-cystic-fibrosis bronchiectasis or chronic suppurative lung disease (Bronchiectasis Intervention Study): a multicentre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 1 (8), 610-620. 10.1016/S2213-2600(13)70185-1


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 507 - Bldg 507
Level 1, Room 1020
New Zealand

Web links