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Scientists discuss healthy start to life at Dunedin symposium

Students eating at City College

Monday 14 November 2011 4:18pm

The National Research Centre for Growth and Development (NRCGD) is holding its annual symposium in Dunedin for the first time this week (15-17 November), with around 80 researchers attending.

The NRCGD ( is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) that brings together leading scientists to address the question: “What makes a healthy start to life?”

NRCGD’s Acting Director Frank Bloomfield says, “University of Otago-based researchers contribute strongly to the NRCGD with seven Otago researchers involved in CoRE-funded projects, worth over $2.5million over the next two and a half years.

The projects are aimed at investigating subtle adaptations during early development that may have life-long consequences for health and wellbeing.”

The Otago researchers are: Professor Hamish Spencer (Zoology), Professor Ian Morison (Pathology), Associate Professor Peter Dearden (Biochemistry), Associate Professor Mark Hampton (Pathology, Christchurch campus), Associate Professor Winsome Parnell (Human Nutrition), Dr Christine Jasoni (Anatomy) and Dr Shinichi Nakagawa (Zoology).

The University of Otago’s NRCGD Site Leader, Director of Genetics Otago Associate Professor Peter Dearden, says, “It’s exciting being in the CoRE because of the opportunity to develop novel collaborations with animal or clinical researchers from across the other NRCGD partner sites at Auckland, Massey and Canterbury Universities, AgResearch and Landcorp.

“The Centre creates opportunities for us to uncover what events in early mammalian life lead to improved health or subsequent disease. We’re not just focussed on humans. A lot of our work is aimed at production animals such as sheep, looking at where we can improve production or growth. Much of our research can be of use to industry.”

As part of the symposium, a public lecture, “Food, obesity and why the Atkins diet won’t work for gorillas: a new perspective on nutrition”, by Professor David Raubenheimer, Massey University, is being held at 5pm, Tuesday 15 November in the St David Lecture Theatre.

For further information, contact

Associate Professor Peter Dearden
Director of Genetics Otago
Laboratory for Evolution and Development
National Research Centre for Growth and Development
Biochemistry Department
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 7832

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