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News archive

Dawn of agriculture linked with poor start to life in ancient Atacama, Chile

Monday, 11 September 2017 9:29am

Learning to cultivate crops and other agricultural food – rather than relying on hunter-gathering – is often thought of as a key milestone in the history of humanity.

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Otago researchers investigate new stroke treatment

Friday, 8 September 2017 1:56pm

New Zealand stroke survivors are being sought by University of Otago researchers for an innovative study that holds promise for restoring their arm and hand function.

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Otago brain health researchers delve into dopamine

Friday, 25 August 2017 4:03pm

University of Otago researchers studying learning processes affected in brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have made new discoveries about how nerve impulses form memories, findings which have implications for developing new therapies for these conditions.

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Secrets of ancient Irish funeral practices revealed

Friday, 4 August 2017 12:17pm

New insights into the lifeways – and death rites – of the ancient people of Ireland are being provided through funerary studies led by a researcher at the University of Otago’s Department of Anatomy.

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Fussy fish use genetic compatibility to pick partners from afar

Thursday, 27 July 2017 11:17am

When salmon spawn, the sperm of competing males are in an all-or-nothing race to be the first to reach and fertilise the eggs.

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Otago cemetery research reveals insights into lives of early settlers

Monday, 24 July 2017 4:58pm

In the first research of its kind in New Zealand, University of Otago researchers are gaining fresh insights into the quality of life and identity of Otago’s early European settlers and farmers through excavating and analysing skeletons from unmarked graves in St. John’s Burial Ground, in Tokoiti, Milton.

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The fine line between playing God and saving species

Friday, 23 June 2017 12:57pm

New Zealand conservation workers are keen on gene-editing to eradicate pests but would rather avoid “playing God” with native species, a University of Otago study suggests.

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‘Trojan’ females may hold key to pest control

Friday, 16 June 2017 1:54pm

Pests like mice and wasps may one day be eradicated using a new technique which scientists have just proven in the laboratory on fruit flies.

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Teachers using own DNA for human evolution studies

Wednesday, 7 June 2017 12:38pm

School students who may have wondered where their teachers came from may not have to wonder much longer.

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Cardiovascular killer protein probed by Otago researchers

Thursday, 1 June 2017 11:59am

Probing the molecular breakdown of a little-known “killer” lipoprotein, responsible for many cases of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions, has given University of Otago scientists new insights into how it is metabolised by the body.

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New insights gained into genetics of gout in Māori and Pacific people

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 11:31am

Newly identified gene variants contribute to explaining why Māori and Pacific people have the highest rates worldwide of gout, the painful and debilitating arthritic disease, an international collaboration led by University of Otago researchers has found.

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New funding for Otago immunotherapy breast cancer research

Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:24am

A University of Otago biochemistry researcher has been awarded nearly $200,000 to study the potential of immunotherapy to treat breast cancer.

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New Zealand fish and chips hold human DNA clues

Wednesday, 26 April 2017 9:27am

Before you pop that piece of battered fish in your mouth, be aware it might just hold the key to understanding the origins of a form of DNA memory critical to human development.

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Otago discovery sheds new light on several disease processes

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 11:04am

New light on a key factor involved in diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, gastric cancer and melanoma has been cast through latest University of Otago research carried out in collaboration with Australian scientists.

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Severe inbreeding threatens Long Island’s little spotted kiwi

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 2:02pm

A population of rare little spotted kiwi (LSK) that was thought to be thriving in a Marlborough island sanctuary is actually seriously threatened by the silent effects of inbreeding, new research led by a University of Otago scientist suggests.

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Vitamins A and C help erase “memory” in stem cells

Friday, 14 October 2016 11:18am

Vitamins A and C can enhance success in the challenging process of converting adult cells into stem cells, an international study co-led by a University of Otago researcher has found.

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Genetic history of Aboriginal Australians revealed

Thursday, 22 September 2016 10:05am

A University of Otago bioanthropologist is among an international group of scientists who have undertaken the first population genomic study of Aboriginal Australians.

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University of Otago honours research leader

Friday, 22 July 2016 11:07am

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, an internationally renowned biological anthropologist who pioneered the use of evolutionary genetics to trace Pacific migrations, is the latest recipient of the Distinguished Research Medal, the University of Otago’s highest distinction.

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Unique forensic study of early Otago farmers proposed

Monday, 30 May 2016 2:31pm

University of Otago researchers are hoping to shed new light on the quality of life and identity of Otago’s early European settlers and farmers through a proposed study that would involve excavating and analysing skeletons from unmarked graves in Tokoiti, Milton.

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Ancient DNA study finds Phoenician from Carthage had European ancestry

Thursday, 26 May 2016 10:20am

A research team co-led by a University of Otago scientist has sequenced the first complete mitochondrial genome of a 2500-year-old Phoenician dubbed the “Young Man of Byrsa” or “Ariche”, whose tomb was discovered within a hill in Carthage, Tunisia in 1994.

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First evidence found that “cryptic female choice” is adaptive

Wednesday, 23 March 2016 1:12pm

University of Otago researchers studying chinook salmon have provided the first evidence that “cryptic female choice” (CFC) enhances fertilisation success and embryo survival.

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Researchers unlock secrets of troublesome Tribble protein

Friday, 9 October 2015 10:24am

A University of Otago scientist has led trans-Tasman research that has created the first three-dimensional image of a key protein involved in the development of blood and other cancers.

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Otago research backs belief that tomatoes can be a gout trigger

Wednesday, 19 August 2015 12:20pm

People who maintain that eating tomatoes can cause their gout to flare up are likely to welcome new University of Otago research that has, for the first time, found a biological basis for this belief.

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Otago science outreach projects to help ‘unlock curious minds’

Thursday, 28 May 2015 3:10pm

The University of Otago will lead three new and innovative projects aimed at engaging New Zealanders, and young people in particular, to learn more about science and technology.

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NZ ancestry study to sample DNA of ex-pats in London

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:29am

A University of Otago biological anthropologist will head to London in June to collect 200 DNA samples from ex-pats to complete sampling for study of the genetic origins of New Zealanders.

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Otago researchers prompt rethink of enzyme evolution

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 2:06pm

Research by University of Otago scientists suggests a need for a fundamental rethink of the evolutionary path of enzymes, the proteins vital to all life on Earth.

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Bright new hope for beating deadly hereditary stomach and breast cancers

Friday, 20 March 2015 4:30pm

Deadly familial stomach and lobular breast cancers could be successfully treated at their earliest stages, or even prevented, by existing drugs that have been newly identified by University of Otago cancer genetics researchers.

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Study provides individual risk estimates for deadly hereditary stomach cancer

Friday, 13 February 2015 4:31pm

A University of Otago researcher who helped discover a key genetic mutation that causes familial stomach cancer is part of an international team that has now provided the first accurate risk estimates for those who carry it.

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Grant awarded for novel approach to preventing biofilm-based infections

Wednesday, 17 December 2014 3:42pm

A University of Otago biochemist has been awarded a $50,000 grant to develop enzymes that prevent infection-causing biofilms from growing on catheters and other medical devices.

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Dental plaque reveals key plant in prehistoric Easter Island diet

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 3:44pm

A University of Otago PhD student analysing dental calculus (hardened plaque) from ancient teeth is helping resolve the question of what plant foods Easter Islanders relied on before European contact.

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Otago student wins Eureka! Sir Paul Callaghan Trophy

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 8:13am

Third-year University of Otago neuroscience student, Sam Hall-McMaster, has taken out the third Eureka! Sir Paul Callaghan Awards, held in Wellington on Friday.

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Prestigious Rutherford Fellowships won by Otago researchers

Wednesday, 1 October 2014 10:49am

Two talented early to mid-career scientists will return to the University of Otago after gaining highly sought-after Rutherford Discovery Fellowships, which are valued at up to $800,000 each over five years.

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Revolutionary handheld DNA diagnostic unit allows lab-quality analysis in the field

Tuesday, 26 August 2014 8:31am

A revolutionary handheld and battery-powered DNA diagnostic device invented at the University of Otago is poised to become a commonly used field tool for rapidly detecting suspected viruses or bacteria in samples while also determining the level of infection.

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Funding awarded for research into new wave of breast cancer drugs

Monday, 4 August 2014 2:13pm

University of Otago research aimed at developing drugs that are selectively lethal to cancer cells is one of two newly funded innovative projects which share the goal of improving and ultimately ensuring breast cancer survival in New Zealand.

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Otago researcher helps sequence sheep genome

Friday, 6 June 2014 9:00am

A University of Otago researcher is among an international team that has sequenced the sheep genome, pinpointing genes that are unique to sheep, including those that help support secretion of the grease needed to maintain wool.

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Global report finds NZ has highest rates of adult and child obesity in the region

Thursday, 29 May 2014 8:25pm

Half of New Zealand’s overweight women are obese and nearly a third of boys and girls are overweight or obese, according to a first-of-its-kind global report of which a University of Otago scientist is a co-author.

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Innovative Otago breast cancer research gains support

Monday, 31 March 2014 3:08pm

A University of Otago study targeting the immune response to anti-oestrogen therapy is among three newly funded innovative research projects which share the goal of improving and ultimately ensuring breast cancer survival in New Zealand.

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Otago researchers gain new insights into ancient Pacific settlers’ diet

Thursday, 6 March 2014 3:25pm

Researchers from New Zealand’s University of Otago studying 3000-year-old skeletons from the oldest known cemetery in the Pacific Islands are casting new light on the diet and lives of the enigmatic Lapita people, the likely ancestors of Polynesians.

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Researchers reveal how onions recognise when to bulb

Wednesday, 4 December 2013 8:43am

New research will help to breed new onions tailored to grow in specific conditions.

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Radical new "Trojan Female” pest control approach shows great promise

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 3:51pm

An innovative, non-lethal approach to pest management has the potential to become a “game-changer” in providing lasting and effective control in a wide range of insect and animal pests, according to New Zealand scientists developing the technique.

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Study of salmon sperm success shows need for speed

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 3:25pm

When salmon spawn, males competing to fertilise eggs will win or lose based primarily on their sperm swimming speed, according to a collaborative study by researchers from the University of Otago and the University of Western Australia.

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New Otago research shows early Māori probably suffered from gout

Monday, 21 October 2013 10:21am

Discoveries of early Māori skeletal remains showing tell-tale signs of gout have been corroborated by new evidence that dispels the myth that the disease was largely an upper class European affliction that did not affect any indigenous populations.

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Otago scientists find genetic link between sugary drinks and gout

Thursday, 12 September 2013 3:42pm

University of Otago and Auckland scientists have for the first time discovered a human gene variant that can “turn bad” when affected by sugary drinks, raising the risk of developing the common and debilitating arthritic disease gout.

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‘Smart’ Otago science supported in national research investment
round

Thursday, 29 August 2013 3:53pm

Two innovative University of Otago research projects focused on enabling bio-manufacturing of key industrial chemicals and developing new bee-friendly insecticides have been funded in the government’s latest science investment round.

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Otago researcher selected to contribute to Australian brain research think tank

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 9:54am

Deputy Director of Otago University’s Brain Health Research Centre, Associate Professor John Reynolds, will travel to Australia next week to attend the 2013 Theo Murphy High Flyers Think Tank.

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Light cast on lifestyle and diet of first New Zealanders

Thursday, 16 May 2013 3:25pm

A University of Otago-led multidisciplinary team of scientists have shed new light on the diet, lifestyles and movements of the first New Zealanders by analysing isotopes from their bones and teeth.

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Otago research confirms Chinese origin of NZ's PSA outbreak

Thursday, 28 February 2013 11:54am

University of Otago scientists have today published persuasive evidence that the PSA strains responsible for the outbreak in North Island kiwifruit orchards came directly from China, as did those responsible for the 2008 Italian and 2010 Chilean outbreaks of the devastating canker disease. This result will help clarify the pathway by which PSA entered New Zealand

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New Zealanders’ genetic diversity to be mapped

Thursday, 6 December 2012 10:00am

A leading University of Otago biological anthropologist has won a prestigious two-year James Cook Research Fellowship to undertake the first-ever survey of the genetic diversity of New Zealand’s population.

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Otago researchers map genetic code of NZ’s first settlers

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 9:52am

In a landmark study, University of Otago researchers have achieved the feat of sequencing complete mitochondrial genomes for members of what was likely to be one of the first groups of Polynesians to settle New Zealand and have revealed a surprising degree of genetic variation among these pioneering voyagers.

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Otago researchers reveal new mechanism behind more male autism

Wednesday, 15 August 2012 4:14pm

New University of Otago research into two sex hormones released by the testes of male fetuses and boys may help solve the enduring mystery of why autism is much more common in boys than girls.

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Otago researchers delve into enigmatic burial rituals

Wednesday, 9 May 2012 9:53am

University of Otago researchers working in remote Cambodian mountains are shedding new light on the lost history of an unidentified people by studying their enigmatic burial rituals.

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Charitable blue collar workers most frequent body donors: Otago study

Friday, 20 April 2012 10:09am

People who donate their bodies to science are more likely to be blue collar workers who also regularly give blood, are registered organ donors, and give frequently to charity, according to an international study led by the University of Otago.

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Preventable nerve injuries from treatments need attention: Otago research

Tuesday, 28 February 2012 10:31am

New University of Otago research suggests that a stronger focus is needed on preventing accidental nerve injury during medical treatments in New Zealand.

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University of Otago receives Grand Challenges Explorations funding

Tuesday, 8 November 2011 11:57am

The University of Otago announced today that it will receive funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges. Associate Professor Russell Poulter of the Department of Biochemistry will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Activation of latent HIV by cyclic analogues of Tat”.

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National award for Otago Senior Teaching Fellow

Thursday, 4 August 2011 10:55am

A University of Otago Senior Teaching Fellow has won an award for sustained excellence in this year’s national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

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Otago receives US$100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant for ground-breaking research in global health and development

Friday, 29 April 2011 2:36pm

The University of Otago announced today that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Associate Professor Russell Poulter of the Department of Biochemistry will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Targeting HIV provirus with novel restriction endonucleases”.

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Otago Prostate Cancer Research Receives Men’s Health Trust Funding

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 9:09am

Research at Otago University to develop a better screening test for the early detection of prostate cancer has been advanced due to a $30,000 grant from the Men’s Health Trust New Zealand.

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Brain cell communication findings pave way for new therapies

Tuesday, 13 July 2010 2:47pm

A previously hidden mechanism regulating how brain cells communicate has been discovered by a University of Otago scientist in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Aberdeen.

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Budding biochemist gains PhD scholarship to Cambridge

Monday, 23 November 2009 3:08pm

A University of Otago biochemistry honours student has received a prestigious Woolf Fisher Scholarship to support her PhD study at Cambridge University.

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Research promises better understanding for prostate disease

Tuesday, 11 August 2009 8:50am

Researchers attempting to unlock the secrets of a protein found in the prostate gland say their work could lead to the development of a more accurate screening tool for prostate disease.

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New light shed on male and female brain differences

Tuesday, 7 April 2009 12:36pm

University of Otago researchers have discovered a new mechanism which contributes to subtle differences between male and female brains and behaviours.

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Molecular "zip-code" research receives major funding

Monday, 30 March 2009 11:29am

A University of Otago scientist is part of an international collaborative team granted more than US$1m to study the hidden mechanisms behind ensuring that components of cells are properly organised.