Our mission is clear.
Unicorn Foundation New Zealand is dedicated to revolutionising the way that Neuroendocrine (NET) canceers are diagnosed and managed in New Zealand.
Unicorn Foundation NZ is a registered charity aiming to provide support and information to patients, families and medical professionals involved in the treatment for Neuroendocrine Tumours/Cancer (NET Cancer). To date, we have funded New Zealand's only state-of-the-art Gatate-PET scan that is publicly funded for New Zealanders requiring this scan. In 2021 we succeeded in bringing a specialised treatment called Peptide Receptor Radiotherapy (PRRT) to New Zealand. Our work means neuroendocrine cancer patients no longer have to self-fund the $60,000 cost and travel to Australia to for PRRT.
Meet The Team
Jeremy Rees, Chairman
Jeremy is a journalist and editor, and currently Executive Editor for Radio New Zealand, based in Auckland. He was editor of the Weekend Herald and Head of Digital Content for NZME, heading up then herald.co.nz and other web initiatives between 2006 and 2015. He was chair the industry's reporter training body and is a member of the Media Freedom Committee, the Media-Judicial liaison committee and other media bodies.
Jeremy came to Unicorn through wanting to use his media skills to help raise awareness about NETs. A self-described part-time, back of the bunch cyclist, he loves watching cricket, reading novels and has just completed a degree in Chinese studies at Auckland University. Jeremy is married to Karen, an anaesthetist at Auckland City Hospital, and they have two daughters.
Dr Malcolm Legget, Board Member
Malcolm is a highly regarded cardiologist, an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, Chair of the Translational Medicine Trust and a NET cancer patient. He was diagnosed in 2011 and quickly received treatment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne which thankfully has stabilised his disease.
His determination and drive to help improve research and care for NET cancer patients is truly remarkable. He is totally committed to trying to improve access to state of the art diagnosis and treatment for New Zealanders with NETs. He is married with three children and a keen cyclist.
Peter Clarke, Board Member
Peter joined Neuroendocrine Cancer New Zealand as a Trustee in 2021. He rode in the Tour of New Zealand as a member of Team Unicorn in 2017 and had been an enthusiastic participant at the “Beer and Bites” fundraisers over the years. Peter’s background is in finance, and he has worked both in New Zealand and overseas in the banking industry since 1993. His primary role on the board of Neuroendocrine Cancer New Zealand is to chair the finance subcommittee. Peter is currently an executive director at AF Capital Partners, a Private Credit Fund based in Auckland. He also chairs the investment committee of the King’s College Foundation. Peter, and his wife Veronica live in Auckland. They have two adult children.
Dr Ben Lawrence, Medical Advisor
Ben is a Medical Oncologist at Auckland Hospital and Head of Department of Oncology at the University of Auckland. In his hospital role, he is the Foundation Chair of the National NET Multi-Disciplinary Meeting where he works with a team of oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, endocrinologists and pathologists to choose the best treatment strategy for each patient. Ben also leads work with the Ministry of Health focused on measuring the quality of NET care across New Zealand. In his University role, he co-leads a nationwide translational research project with a talented team who undertake genomic profiling of NETs using cutting-edge gene sequencing technologies.
Dr Michelle Sullivan, Chief Executive
Michelle joined the Unicorn Foundation in 2020 as CEO. She brings a range of senior health and research sector experience ranging from clinical trials to research funding and biotech sector investment. She is an enthusiastic advocate for all NET cancer patients and their families. Michelle’s PhD in biochemistry earns her the title ‘Dr’ but definitely don’t call her if you need a doctor! She is married with two daughters and lives in Auckland.
Avril Hull, NET Information and Support Manager
Avril became our Information and Support Manager in 2015 and confesses that one of the ways she has learnt so much about NETs was through listening to people – patients, their relatives and
friends. “I always feel humbled when people share so openly their NET journey and I feel privileged to be in a position to meet people from around the country in this role.”
Avril also works part time as a Nurse Specialist in Neuroendocrine Tumours at Auckland Hospital and part time as a Research Nurse with the NETwork! Project Team who are doing genomic research on NETs at the University of Auckland. “I love my work because it is challenging and I am always learning
something new.” She is married with 2 children who keep her busy in her spare time.
Lesley Harrison, NET Information and Support Manager (South Island)
Lesley joined the Unicorn Foundation in late 2018 as the South Island support and information manager.
She is excited to have the opportunity to enhance the support available for South Islanders, their whanau/family and friends, who are living with this quirky cancer and values the opportunity to meet so many of you through this work.
Lesley developed an interest in NET’s when a close family member was diagnosed in 2013. She also works part-time at a private surgical hospital in Christchurch and through this work has noticed an increase in the number of people undergoing surgery for NET’s.
Lesley is married with 3 adult children, 3 gorgeous grandchildren and 2 dogs.
Jess Page, Events & Operations Manager
Jess joined Unicorn Foundation NZ to lead our signature patient education and fundraising events. Jess' interest in NETs stems from her close friend's journey with NET cancer, and she loves her role supporting patients and their families.
Jess is married and lives in Auckland with her two young children who keep her busy.
Why the Unicorn?
Our logo represents a Unicorn horn, because his cancer is
different and we need to think outside the box to help.
The unicorn is also a symbol of hope – hope for early
diagnosis, hope for better outcomes, hope for a cure.
Join us to help create awareness of this unique cancer.