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John Donne Potter

Professor, Research Centre for Hauora and Health, Massey University

I am Professor at the Research Centre for Hauora and Health (RCHH) at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand as well as Professor and Senior Advisor, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) and Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology at the University of Washington, both in Seattle, USA. I have an international research career focusing on nutrition, other environmental and host factors, and genetics in the aetiology and pathobiology of cancer and other chronic diseases. After 5 years of practicing medicine, I worked at CSIRO Division of Human Nutrition, Adelaide (1977-1986), completing my PhD and beginning my close partnership with Tony McMichael. Then, in the US, I held increasingly senior posts at the Universities of Minnesota and Washington and FHCRC (including as Director of its Division of Public Health Sciences, one of the largest groups of public-health scientists anywhere). From 2016-2019, I was Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

I chaired the international panel that produced Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective (1997) and have held visiting appointments at the Cambridge Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France. I am founding co-chair of the Asia Cohort Consortium, a collaborative cohort study across Asia of 1.1 million people. International awards include India’s Gopalan Oration Gold Medal for nutrition science (1996) and the 2012 Medal of Honour of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France.

I am currently Principal Investigator of RCHH’s research study: Comparison of two invitation-based methods for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling with standard recall for usual care among un- and under-screened Māori, Pacific and Asian women: a randomised controlled community trial to examine the effect of self-sampling on participation in cervical-cancer screening as well as being Co-PI and co-investigator on other studies.

I have authored or co-authored more than 700 scientific papers, chapters, and books. My Scopus H-Index is 123. I was named as one of the top 1% of cited authors worldwide in 2018 and in the top 0.01% in 2019. My most recent book is Thought for Food, published by Bridget Williams Books in 2018. (see also: and


  • –present
    Professor, Research Centre for Hauora and Health, Massey University


  • 1984 
    PhD, University of Queensland
  • 1971 
    MBBS, University of Queensland