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Genetics Otago's partner organisations

In recognition of our strengthening affiliations with complementary groups and centres, we're proud to present the following groups as valued partner organisations.

The aim of this collaborative approach is to best promote our individual strengths and maximise our combined resources.


AbacusBio Limited are Australasian market leaders in agribusiness consulting and associated new business development. The firm's internationally recognised scientific expertise in agricultural technology and biotechnology is backed by specialised economic modelling, financial analysis and business management capabilities.

AbacusBio has considerable expertise in the development and enhancement of genetic improvement schemes in livestock, plants and aquacultural species.

Focussed on developing consulting business through relationships with clients and growing their involvement in new ventures, AbacusBio’s vision is to bridge the gap between scientific possibilities and practical application in business.

Peter Fennessy Director, AbacusBio
AbacusBio website

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BioinfoTools is an independent consultancy built on a joint background in computer science and biology, and twenty years experience in computational biology.

Customers are assisted in developing a bioinformatics strategy through consulting, software development and data analysis services, working from their biological aims. Work can be carried out at the customers’ site, whether local or international.

Studies on all types of biological data are invited. Specialist computational and biological background is available for studies of epigenetics and chromatin structure, protein-DNA (or protein-RNA) interactions, as well as protein sequence, structure and function studies and genomics.

Original methods can be developed to exploit your particular dataset or solve your particular problem.

Lines of work can include all of (but need not be limited to):

  • Data analysis
  • Software development, including original algorithms
  • Training, advice, assessment, reviews & documentation
  • Web site development & hosting scientific databases

Dr Grant Jacobs maintains his own research interests, currently particularly in epigenetics, chromatin structure and new algorithms for computational biology, reading widely in both the experimental biology and computational biology literature.

BioinfoTools website

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Bioethics Centre

The Bioethics Centre at the University of Otago was established in 1988 in response to growing awareness of new ethical issues relating to law, medicine, and technology. These are issues which touch the lives of everyone.

The Centre is rated as an Area of Research Strength in the University of Otago, and has an international reputation.

The Centre aims to:

  • Encourage and coordinate teaching and research
  • timulate informed public debate
  • Provide a consultation and resource service for health professionals and others in the community

The backgrounds of the Centre's academic staff provide a variety of perspectives in the humanities and health, which helps students reflect on current ethical issues in medicine, biology, healthcare, and the broader issues of environmental ethics.

Centre staff are also responsible for teaching one of the most extensive programs in medical ethics of any medical school in the world; as well as ethics courses in, pharmacy, physiotherapy, oral health, and midwifery. The Centre has developed a network of links with other research centres and attracts numerous overseas scholars and postgraduate students.

The Centre has secured major research grants in a number of areas including ethics and stem cell research, ethics and the human genome project, ethics and emerging biotechnologies, and the ethical dimensions of resource allocation.

It plays a prominent role in national and international affairs in Bioethics.

Professor D. Gareth Jones
Bioethics Centre website

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The Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies

The Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies is the only New Zealand-based research centre that examines the legal, ethical, and policy issues around new technologies.

These include biotechnology, nanotechnology, alternative bio-energy, information and communication technologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

The Centre's aim is to bring legal and ethical perspectives to the evaluation of emerging technologies in what is an age of rapid scientific development. It is expected that the Centre will play a leading role in providing well-considered research-based answers.

Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan

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Centre for Reproduction and Genomics

The Centre for Reproduction and Genomics (CRG) is a collaborative venture between AgResearch, New Zealand's leading pastoral and livestock research institution; and the University of Otago, New Zealand's leading research university.

The CRG brings together world-class scientists from AgResearch and the University of Otago working across a broad spectrum of reproductive biology, physiology, molecular biology, genetics, and genomics.

Professor Neil Gemmell Director, CRG; Genetics Otago Advisory Group Member
Centre for Reproduction and Genomics website

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Centre for Research on Children and Families

The Centre for Research on Children and Families' goals are:

  • To advance conceptual and practical understanding of factors that promote normal psychosocial development among children and adolescents
  • To identify and examine mechanisms that explains differences in children's normal and abnormal psychosocial development
  • To contribute to and disseminate practice and policy knowledge relating to the well-being and welfare of children
  • To work in collaboration with child and family agencies nationally and internationally to enhance understanding of factors that promote well-being among children, families and the communities within which they live
  • Centre for Research on Children and Familes website

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Genetic Health Service NZ

Genetic Health Service NZ (GHSNZ) is New Zealand's provider of expert genetic diagnosis and advice. It operates 14 clinics throughout New Zealand—with a staff of clinical geneticists and genetic associates—and is part of New Zealand's public health system.

GHSNZ provides the following services:

  • Diagnostic assessment of genetic disorders and information about genetic diagnoses
  • Diagnostic, pre-conceptional, prenatal, or pre-symptomatic tests for genetic conditions
  • Assistance in the clinical management of genetic diseases, and identification of preventable complications by early and accurate diagnosis and surveillance
  • Genetic counselling, and management advice for the extended family of affected individuals
  • Telephone enquiry service for doctors, midwives, and other health professionals concerning genetic diseases
  • Genetics education for professional and lay groups

Genetic Health Services NZ website

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Initiated in 2005, MapNet is a collective of New Zealand-based researchers from organisations involved in gene mapping.

Represented organisations include:

  • AgResearch
  • Crop and Food Research
  • HortResearch
  • Livestock Improvement Corporation
  • Scion (NZ Forest Research Ltd)
  • ViaLactia BioSciences
  • University of Auckland
  • University of Otago

This encompasses most gene mapping research undertaken in New Zealand. Other New Zealand organisations are most welcome to participate.

A key driver for MapNet is to coordinate scientists from disparate sectors working with common technologies, to foster the development of multidisciplinary and cross-sector teams.

The primary role of MapNet is to encourage precommercial, cross-sector, gene mapping-related R&D in a range of organisms valuable to New Zealand's economy, ecology, and culture. To do this MapNet has a structure that includes a steering committee from the range of participating organisations, and a convenor.

Assoc Prof Tony Merriman MapNet Steering Group member; Genetics Otago Advisory Committee member
MapNet website

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Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development

The National Research Centre for Growth and Development (NRCGD) is a New Zealand Government-funded Centre of Research Excellence. It brings together leading scientists from 6 partner organisations to address an overarching question: What makes a healthy start to life?

The NRCGD's internationally-recognised research seeks to reveal how events in early life affect mammalian development, with both short- and long-term consequences for health and disease.

The insights gained through this work will lead to new therapeutic and public health policy approaches to diseases with a developmental origin, and improved productivity in farm animals.

Associate Professor Peter Dearden Associate Director, NRCGD; Director, Genetics Otago
Professor Ian Morison
Prof Hamish Spencer
Dr Christine Jasoni
Dr Shinichi Nakagawa

National Research Centre for Growth and Development website

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New Zealand Genomics Limited

New Zealand Genomics Limited (NZGL) provides New Zealand scientists with access to the significant equipment needed for large-scale genomics projects. It also provides the framework for co-ordinating projects, analytical and bioinformatics support, and data storage and sharing.

Until recently, genomics-based projects in New Zealand have been, by necessity, small scale and limited by difficulties accessing analytical and bioinformatics expertise. NZGL's genomics technologies and bioinformatics services allow faster progress to be made in the study of health and agricultural problems specific to New Zealand.

The collaboration involves 3 organisations—University of Otago, University of Auckland, and Massey University—and is receiving NZ$40 millon of government funding over 10 years.

New Zealand Genomics Limited website

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Otago Zebrafish Facility

The University of Otago's Zebrafish Facility (OZF) offers researchers access to one of the most technically advanced zebrafish facilities in Australasia.

The 1200-tank facility was commissioned in May 2009, and completed March 2011. The OZF services several high-profile teams—both within the University of Otago and externally—researching cancer, developmental disorders, sex determination, stem cell biology, oxidative stress, behaviour, epigenetics, and evolution.

Researchers have the option of either 'renting' tank space in the facility, or contracting OZF staff to undertake the hands-on laboratory work on their behalf.

The facility also provides on-site toxicology, pathology, microinjection, and imaging services.

Otago Zebrafish Facility website

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The Otago Genomics Bioinformatics Facility (OGBF)

The Otago Genomics & Bioinformatics Facility (OGBF) delivers end-to-end customised genomics and bioinformatics solutions to researchers and industry.

Our experienced team can assist with project design, provide advice for sample preparation and ensure that the chosen technology can meet specific project and data requirements.

Data generation services include the Illumina HiSeq 2500/2000, nanoString nCounter Analysis System and Affymetrics GeneChip System.

The Bioinformatics Team offers a analysis of genomics data from a variety of technologies to meet individual project needs. These include gene expression analysis, transcriptomics, genome assembly and annotation, variant calling, SNP detection, and analysis of metagenomics data.

All the services offered at the Otago Genomics & Bioinformatics Facility (OGBF) are facilitated contractually through our collaborating partner, New Zealand Genomics Ltd (NZGL).

Virology Otago

The Virology research team at the University of Otago comprises several interconnected groups located in the Divisions of Sciences and Health Sciences, and is spread across the Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington campuses. Together they have expertise in all areas of virology.

Current research activities of theme groups encompass multiple projects in the areas of:

  • Viruses and cancer
  • Viruses and immunity
  • Human and animal health virolog
  • Invertebrate virology
  • Viral infections and diagnosis
  • Vector-borne diseases
  • Plant virology
  • Human respiratory disease and hepatitis

The group has an exceptionally strong track record of publications, and collaborates internationally with research institutes in Australia, Finland, Germany, Israel, the UK, and the US.

Professor Andy Mercer Virology Theme member; Genetics Otago member
Virology Otago website

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University of Otago Genetic Analysis Service (GAS)

The Genetic Analysis Service is based in the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, and aims to provide low-cost sequencing and genotyping services with optimal efficiency and reliability.

GAS provides a full range of DNA sequencing, genotyping, and fragment analysis services for clients using its state-of-the-art ABI 3730xl DNA Analyser.

Clients can chose a full service option—where they provide the DNA and GAS does the rest—or a simple run only option.

Professor Neil Gemmell Director, Genetic Analysis Service; Genetics Otago Advisory Group member
Prof David Green
Assoc Prof Peter Dearden
Assoc Prof Tony Merriman
Prof Stephen Robertson
Prof Clive Ronson
Dr Shinichi Nakagawa

Genetic Analysis Service website

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University of Otago High-Throughput DNA Sequencing Unit

The Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology offers a full high-throughput sequencing service using the Roche/454 GS FLX and ABI SOLiD systems.

All the client has to do is supply high-quality DNA.

The Sequencing Unit will sequence anything from viruses, bacterial genomes, transcriptomes, amplicons, or eukaryotic genomes to clients' specifications. New applications for this technology continue to emerge as the Unit maintains access to the latest updates.

This comprehensive service enables the client to sequence template from any source to tailored specifications including:

  • Amplicons
  • Bacterial genomes
  • Cloned DNA, such as BACs and plasmids
  • Eukaryotic genomes
  • Transcriptomes, including small RNAs
  • Viruses

Turn around is 4–6 weeks from receipt of DNA.

High-Throughput DNZ Sequencing Unit website

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