Dr Swee Tan

Founder and Executive Director, Gillies McIndoe Research Institute


Dr Tan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, and former Director of Plastic Surgery and Director of Surgery at Hutt Valley DHB.

Dr Tan’s life began on the outskirts of a tiny Malaysian village where he rose from a family with 14 children roughing his hands working on a small plantation to become an internationally recognised surgeon and research scientist. Dubbed by the Dominion Post as a modern miracle worker, Dr Tan’s research into the origin of strawberry birthmarks and their treatment has some exciting implications for the treatment of cancer and regenerative medicine.

Dr Tan’s vision and leadership has been instrumental in the establishment of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute, dedicated to researching the cause of disfiguring and life-threatening conditions such as birthmarks and cancer, and regenerative medicine.

He is an elected member of 13 national and international professional and scientific societies and was the past President of the Australian & New Zealand Head and Neck Cancer Society. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for the Study & Treatment of Vascular Birthmarks, a national referral centre. He is well known internationally for his research into vascular birthmarks and cancer. His team and their collaborators have received numerous national and international prizes for their work. He is a recipient of 24 honours including ONZM from the Queen, Wellingtonian of the Year – Science & Technology, Living Treasure of the Museum of Wellington – City and Sea, Paul Harris Fellow, the New Zealand Medical Association Chair’s Award, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Research Award and the Fervent Global Love of Lives Medal. He was one of the 3 Finalists of the 2013 KiwiBank New Zealander of the Year Award and the 2015 KEA World Class NZ Award.