Associate Professor Nuala Ann Helsby

BSc(Hons), PhD

Research | Current

My research is focused on two main areas:

(i)  pharmacogenomic regulation of human drug metabolism

(ii) metabolic biotransformation of novel drugs as part of the development of therapeutic agents for a wide range of diseases.

I have a particular focus on cancer drugs but I also have interests in treatments for tuberculosis and trypanosomiasis, immunosuppresive therapy and statins.

I have strong collaborative links with clinicans and I have a focus not only on fundamental laboratory based research but also clinical studies in patients and healthy participants

My research group includes Dr Kathryn Burns (John Gavin Postdoctoral Research Fellow; Genesis Oncology Trust), Claire Bonnet (research technician) as well as postgraduate research students.


Teaching | Current

Course director and lecturer for MEDSCI 301 Molecular basis of disease.  

Course director for MEDSCI 701 Special Studies in Medical Sciences.

I also teach on the following courses: MEDSCI 203 Mechanisms of disease MEDSCI 302 Cancer biology MEDSCI 303 Drug dispostion and kinetics MEDSCI 306 Principles of Toxicology MEDSCI 101G Environmental threats to health MEDSCI 706 Genetic disease MEDSCI 715 Molecular toxicology MEDSCI 716 Drug disposition and kinetics  PHARM 767 Advanced pharmacotherapy

I am also the postgraduate director for the School of Medical Sciences and programme director for the Postgraduate suite of Biomedical Science qualfications 

Postgraduate supervision

Current supervision

  • Daniel Chiang (PhD candidate)
  • Brandi Bellisima (PhD candidate)
  • Prachi Patel (MSc candidate)
  • Daniel Neuberger (MBiomedSc candidate)
  • Maia van Kan (MSc candidate)



  • International Union of basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR). Councillor on the executive board of the Drug metabolism and transporter section (2014-2018)
  • Secretary of ASCEPT-NZ (Nov 2011-2014)
  • NZ representative on the ASCEPT Pharmacogenetics Interest Group Committee (2007-present)
  • School of Medical Sciences representative on Faculty Postgraduate studies Committee (2006- present)



  • Executive editor of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
  • Review editor for Frontiers in Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics (2011-present)
  • Ad hoc reviewer for the international journals: Clinical Pharmacokinetics, Molecular Pharmaceutics and Special issue of Mutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, Chemico-Biological Interactions, Cancer Gene Therapy, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, Drug Metabolism and Drug Interactions, Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, Australian Medical Student Journal, European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics
  • Invited member of the reviewer panel for Current Drug Metabolism and  Drug Metabolism Letters  (2012-2014)

Areas of expertise

Pharmacogenetics, Human pharmacology, Drug biotransformation 

Committees/Professional groups/Services


  • British Pharmacology Society
  • Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology
  • New Zealand Society for Oncology

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Burns, K. E., Lo, W.-Y., Findlay, M. P., Sharples, K., Laking, G., & Helsby, N. A. (2016). High CYP2C19 phenotypic variability in gastrointestinal cancer patients. Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology, 77 (1), 195-204. 10.1007/s00280-015-2923-4
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Katie Burns, Michael Findlay, George Laking
  • Bull, M. R., Spicer, J. A., Huttunen, K. M., Denny, W. A., Ciccone, A., Browne, K. A., ... Helsby, N. A. (2015). The preclinical pharmacokinetic disposition of a series of perforin-inhibitors as potential immunosuppressive agents. European journal of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, 40 (4), 417-425. 10.1007/s13318-014-0220-y
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bill Denny, Julie Spicer, Matthew Bull
  • Sullivan, J. A., Tong, J. L., Wong, M., Kumar, A., Sarkar, H., Ali, S., ... Helsby, N. A. (2015). Unravelling the role of SNM1 in the DNA repair system of Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular Microbiology, 96 (4), 827-838. 10.1111/mmi.12973
  • Sullivan, J. A., Tong, J. L., Wong, M., Kumar, A., Sarkar, H., Ali, S., ... Helsby, N. A. (2015). Unravelling the role of SNM1 in the DNA repair system of Trypanosoma brucei. Molecular microbiology, 96 (4), 827-838. 10.1111/mmi.12973
  • Moriya, H., Saito, K., Helsby, N., Hayashi, N., Sugino, S., Yamakage, M., ... Kurosawa, N. (2014). Single-nucleotide polymorphisms and copy number variations of the FCGR2A and FCGR3A genes in healthy Japanese subjects. Biomed Rep, 2 (2), 265-269. 10.3892/br.2013.210
  • Moriya, H., Saito, K., Helsby, N., Sugino, S., Yamakage, M., Sawaguchi, T., ... Kurosawa, N. (2014). Association between the low-dose irinotecan regimen-induced occurrence of grade 4 neutropenia and genetic variants of UGT1A1 in patients with gynecological cancers. Oncology Letters, 7 (6), 2035-2040. 10.3892/ol.2014.2046
  • Voak, A. A., Seifert, K., Helsby, N. A., & Wilkinson, S. R. (2014). Evaluating aziridinyl nitrobenzamide compounds as leishmanicidal prodrugs. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 58 (1), 370-377. 10.1128/AAC.01459-13
  • Spicer, J. A., Lena, G., Lyons, D. M., Huttunen, K. M., Miller, C. K., O'Connor PD, ... Denny, W. A. (2013). Exploration of a series of 5-arylidene-2-thioxoimidazolidin-4-ones as inhibitors of the cytolytic protein perforin. J Med Chem, 56 (23), 9542-9555. 10.1021/jm401604x
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christian Miller, Bill Denny, Julie Spicer, Stephen Jamieson, Matthew Bull


Contact details

Primary location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
New Zealand

Web links