Warmest congratulations to Dr Ruth Spearing CNZM

Dr Ruth Spearing, a distinguished haematologist and medical researcher with a strong interest in CLL, has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to haematology in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Dr Ruth Spearing has been a consultant haematologist and taken a lead nationally in haematology trials. She was involved in setting up the partnership with the UK Medical Research Haematology Trials group which New Zealand joined in 1989. As well as many other clinical trials, she is the New Zealand Principle Investigator for the UK MRC Acute Myeloid Leukaemia trails which have has seen an improvement in survival in this condition from 2% to 56%. The outcomes are now as good as if not better than other countries.  She was the New Zealand Principal Investigator for the UK MRC myeloma VII trial which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and which established autologous (self) stem cell transplantation as part of the upfront treatment of myeloma.

She has a particular interest in adolescents and young adults and is the Canterbury Clinical Lead for the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service and on the National Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Governance Group. She has also had various leadership roles being a Board Member of the New Zealand Medical Association, an elected member of the Canterbury District Health Board Clinical Board and Chair of the Canterbury Hospitals Medical Staff Association.

Looking after Barry Mather was a privilege as he was obviously such a fabulous and generous man. He was aware that only with research will there be any meaningful advances. It is very satisfying to see that money that Barry has donated has gone to towards research into the condition that he had, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia, and also to enable the setting up of a Clinical Haematology Research Unit down in Dunedin which now is progressing well with its own funding.

See RNZ’s interview here: Kings-birthday-honours-Ruth-Spearing

Haematologist Dr Ruth Spearing said being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to haematology was a “huge” honour and surprise.

“I’d like to think that I’m actually accepting this on behalf of all the haematologists in the country,” she said.

Spearing has led internationally recognised research into blood cancers for more than 30 years, and the Ruth Spearing Cancer Research Trust was established in 2008, which supported South Island haematology research.

Spearing said a career highlight had been persuading Pharmac to fund a drug which enabled New Zealand to be part of a recent trial.

“We managed to persuade them that they needed to bend their rules and as a result of them bending their rules and enabling us to purchase a drug at a greatly reduced cost outside of their usual rules, it resulted in us getting the best ever results.

“Persuading Pharmac to do that is probably my career highlight.”