The University of Otago is to lead a $35 million project known as Genomics Aotearoa, a new science platform supporting advanced genomics research.
Announcing the new platform, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Paul Goldsmith noted that genomics is a fast-moving, dynamic research field that underpins a wide range of science of importance to New Zealand including health, the environment and primary production.
“This investment will establish Genomics Aotearoa as an agile, leading-edge collaborative platform of research on genomics that grows New Zealand's capability, builds international connections, and develops tool and technologies that will support our genomics researchers in delivering excellent and impactful science,” Mr Goldsmith said.
Led by Professor Peter Dearden at the University of Otago, Genomics Aotearoa is an alliance between the Universities of Auckland and Massey, Crown Research Institutes AgResearch, ESR, Landcare Research, and Plant and Food, and 32 associate organisations including researchers and end users of genomics and bioinformatics.
Funding will come from the Government's Strategic Science Investment Fund and follows a competitive two-stage application and assessment process managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
“Genomics Aotearoa presented a strong proposal that was comprehensive in scope and ambition, and seeks to cement national collaboration between genomic researchers and end-users across all life sciences of relevance to New Zealand's economic, environmental and social wellbeing,” Mr Goldsmith said.
“This platform represents a new, strategic approach to Government investment in genomics that allows us to build on our existing research capability and remain agile to respond to future opportunities in technologies and approaches.”
MBIE will now work closely with Genomics Aotearoa as the platform undergoes a six month establishment phase which will involve developing a research agenda and work programme.
Professor Dearden says he is excited by the opportunity to lead this important new initiative.
“Genomics Aotearoa will be a collaborative research system that significantly upskills us in the application of genomics and bioinformatics through acquiring new techniques from overseas, developing new and novel methods and maintaining best practice.
“We are poised to provide infrastructure that will lead to improvements in the health of our people, the state of our environment, while adding value to New Zealand Inc.”
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