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PM visits Otago to celebrate graduands and genomics

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 10:43am

The Prime Minister Bill English (right) talks with Biochemistry staff involved in the new Genomics Aotearoa platform during his visit to the Dunedin campus on Saturday. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

The Prime Minister, Bill English, visited the University at the weekend – meeting and greeting proud graduands at the brunch in the Link area, and also visiting the Department of Biochemistry to chat with staff and students active in the new Genomics Aotearoa platform.

It was announced on Friday that the University will lead this $35 million project which will support advanced genomics research in New Zealand.

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.

"Genomics Aotearoa will be a collaborative research system that significantly upskills us in the application of genomics and bioinformatics ... "

Led by Otago’s Professor Peter Dearden, 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).

Unveiling the new initiative, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Paul Goldsmith said Genomics Aotearoa presented a strong proposal that was comprehensive in scope and ambition, and which sought 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.

“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.”

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.”

More images from the Prime Minister's visit to campus (photos: Sharron Bennett)