Jin Russell (nee Teoh) – Inducted 2023
Monday, 30 October 2023
Marsden Years: 1994 – 2000 (Year 7-13)
This award recognises Jin Russell’s contribution to child development in New Zealand and her passion to understand and change the poor health circumstances of children.

Born into a medical family, Jin’s parents migrated to Christchurch in the late 1970s from Malaysia, and later moved to Wellington where Jin was born. At school, science and the hopes for a medical career were balanced by the humanities, especially classical studies and creative writing. Jin was the 2000 School Musician having played the violin in the orchestra, the piano and been involved in several choirs. Jin was the Dux in 2000.

It was after her studies at Auckland University and as a junior doctor at Middlemore Hospital that her interest in paediatrics and child development grew, as did the growing recognition that a child’s socio-economic circumstances can influence his or her future health and development. This drove Jin’s PhD thesis in paediatric epidemiology, in which she used data from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study to show how the circumstances in which children live and grow in the first two thousand days of life shape children’s health outcomes, language, cognitive, and socio-emotional development before children start school.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Jin became a well-known spokesperson and advisor for children’s needs, including child health and emotional wellbeing, vaccination, and the safe reopening of schools. During the pandemic, Jin contributed numerous articles on children’s wellbeing and generated over 700 mainstream media mentions. She has been widely praised for her calm and factual approach to scientific communication and was named one of “21 women of 2021” by Woman magazine.1  She sees public communication as an extension of her clinical work - it’s just the audience is wider.

Switching between different portfolios suits Jin. She spends two days a week at Starship Hospital as a Consultant Developmental Paediatrician, and three days a week working as a Community Paediatrician within a public health team of Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand and undertaking research. Jin’s PhD in paediatric epidemiology through Auckland University was submitted in 2023. There is still time for family – Jin and her husband have two young boys. The ability to think through issues balances well with the clinical and community side of her life.

Jin has won multiple clinical and research awards. She became a Starship Foundation Fellow in 2020, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians.

With her variety of life skills, education and experience Jin sees her goal through a wide lens-
“Epidemiological training has taught me to see things multi-factorially, and I'm working towards a vision of Aotearoa New Zealand as a place where every child flourishes, and where every family is supported. I will keep working towards that goal because that's the kind of society I'd like us to be.” 2

1 https://womanmagazine.co.nz/our-21-women-of-2021/
2 https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/dr-jin-russell-my-story-as-told-to-elisabeth-easther