Dr Natalie Walker

PhD (Medicine), DPH, MSc, BSc (Hons)

Research | Current

I am particularly interested in identifying affordable, practical and scalable interventions (appropriate to local conditions and populations) to address the leading non-communicable diseases in New Zealand, namely heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. I have built up a sustained, systematic and comprehensive programme of multidisciplinary addiction research, particularly focusing on two leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases - alcohol and tobacco. The research has spanned from preclinical research through to policy. I have published in the fields of tobacco control and smoking cessation (e-cigarettes, cytisine, nicotine reduction, increasing uptake of existing cessation medications, exercise for smoking cessation, hypnotherapy, incentives, smokefree programme evaluations, and smokefree environments) alcohol (mhealth alcohol interventions), other drugs (cannabis, ibogaine) and other addictions (sugar).

Teaching | Current

Course Director: POPLHLTH 712: “Clinical Trial Design, Analysis and Management”, University of Auckland. (Course run every two years).

Guest lecturer: POPLHLTH 304: “Epidemiology Methods”, University of Auckland.

Guest lecturer: POPLHLTH 216: “Essential Epidemiology”, University of Auckland

Guest lecturer: CHEM 392: "Issues in Drug Design and Development", University of Auckland



2018 - now

Fellow of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).

2012 - 2016 Heart Foundation Douglas Senior Fellowship in Heart Health (Prevention)

2001 - 2003

Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, National Heart Foundation of NZ

1997 - 2000 Public Health Research Training Fellowship (Career Development Award), Health Research Council of NZ



2020 - now Faculty Academic Intregrity Officer, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
2019 - 2020 Director of the Board of Research, School of Population Health (member since 2015, Deputy Director in 2018)
2018 - now Associate Professor in Population Health (Honorary Associate Professor in Population Health 2015-2018)
2018 - now Director, Centre for Addiction Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (Associate Director 2012-2018)
2008 - now Programme Leader-Addictions, National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health

Areas of expertise

Expertise in the following study designs:  Pragmatic Community-based Trials , Case-control studies, Systematic reviews, and cross-sectional studies.

Research interests: Disease prevention/public health: in the field of smoking cessation, alcohol, harm reduction, cannabis and heart health

Recent papers (2020-2021):

  • Walker, N., Smith, B., Barnes, J., Verbiest, M., Parag, V., Pokhrel, S., Wharakura, M.‐K., Lees, T., Cubillos Gutierrez, H., Jones, B., and Bullen, C. Cytisine versus varenicline for smoking cessation in New Zealand indigenous Māori: A randomized controlled trial. Addiction, 2021; https://doi.org/10.1111/add.15489.
  • Walker N, Parag V, Verbiest M, Laking G, Laugesen M, Bullen C. Nicotine patches used in combination with e-cigarettes (with and without nicotine) for smoking cessation: a pragmatic randomised trial. Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 2020: 8 (1): 54-64. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(19)30269-3.
  • Walker N, Parag V, Wong S, Youdan B, Broughton B, Bullen C, Beaglehole R. Daily use of e-cigarettes and smoked tobacco in youth aged 14-15 years in New Zealand: findings from repeated cross-sectional studies (2014-2019). Lancet Public Health 2020; doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30241-5.
  • Joo YJ, Newcombe D, Nosa V, Walker N, Bullen C.  Betel Nut Use in Vanuatu: Investigating Opportunities to Reduce Harms to Health. Substance Use & Misuse, 2020; 55:9, 1457-1464, doi: 10.1080/10826084.2020.1716803
  • Galea-Singer S, Newcombe D, Farnsworth-Grodd V, Sheridan J, Adams P, Walker N. Challenges of virtual talking therapies for substance misuse in New Zealand during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Opinion Piece. New Zealand Medical Journal 2020; 22 May; 133 (1515).



Committees/Professional groups/Services

2018 - now Inaugural Dean of the international SRNT University (an online educational platform)
2018 - now Board member, SRNT Oceania chapter 
2018 - now Member of the Health Coalition Aotearoa: Smokefree Advisory Group
2018 - now Associate Editor, Nicotine & Tobacco Research (Journal)
2018 - now

Member of an HRC Grants Review Committee

2017 - now

Member of the Heart Foundation Scientific Board

2015 - now Associate Editor,  Addiction (Journal)
2014 - now

Associate Editor, Tobacco Regulatory Science (Journal)

2009 - now Member of SRNT 

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.
  • O'Brien B, Knight-West, O., Walker, N., Parag, V., & Bullen, C. (2015). E-cigarettes versus NRT for smoking reduction or cessation in people with mental illness: Secondary analysis of data from the ASCEND trial. Tobacco Induced Diseases, 1310.1186/s12971-015-0030-2
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Chris Bullen, Varsha Parag
  • Walker, N., Fraser, T., Howe, C., Laugesen, M., Truman, P., Parag, V., ... Bullen, C. (2015). Abrupt nicotine reduction as an endgame policy: A randomised trial. Tobacco Control, Online first.10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-051801
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Chris Bullen, Varsha Parag
  • Walker, N., Johnston, V., Glover, M., Bullen, C., Trenholme, A., Chang, A., ... Fenton, D. (2015). Effect of a family-centered, secondhand smoke intervention to reduce respiratory illness in indigenous infants in Australia and New Zealand: A randomized controlled trial. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 17 (1), 48-57. 10.1093/ntr/ntu128
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Chris Bullen, Varsha Parag
  • Walker, N., Howe, C., Glover, M., McRobbie, H., Barnes, J., Nosa, V., ... Bullen, C. (2014). Cytisine versus nicotine for smoking cessation. The New England Journal of Medicine, 371 (25), 2353-2362. 10.1056/NEJMoa1407764
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vili Nosa, Jo Barnes, Chris Bullen, Varsha Parag
  • Bullen, C., Howe, C., Laugesen, M., McRobbie, H., Parag, V., Williman, J., & Walker, N. (2013). Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: A randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 382 (9905), 1629-1637. 10.1016/s0140-6736(13)61842-5
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Varsha Parag, Chris Bullen
  • Jull, A. B., Walker, N., & Deshpande, S. (2013). Honey as a topical treatment for wounds. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online), 210.1002/14651858.CD005083.pub3
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Jull
  • Walker, N., Howe, C., Bullen, C., Grigg, M., Glover, M., McRobbie, H., ... Whittaker, R. (2012). The combined effect of very low nicotine content cigarettes, used as an adjunct to usual Quitline care (nicotine replacement therapy and behavioural support), on smoking cessation: A randomized controlled trial. Addiction, 107 (10), 1857-1867. 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03906.x
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Chris Bullen, Varsha Parag
  • Walker, N., Howe, C., Bullen, C., Grigg, M., Glover, M., McRobbie, H., ... Whittaker, R. (2011). Does improved access and greater choice of nicotine replacement therapy affect smoking cessation success? Findings from a randomised controlled trial. Addiction, 106 (6), 1176-1185. 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03419.x
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/18931

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 507 - Bldg 507
Level 1, Room 1092
New Zealand

Web links