Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Genetics student named Fulbright scholar  

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Anezka Hoskin image
Genetics Masters student Anežka Hoskin heads to Stanford University next year.

Genetics Masters student Anežka Hoskin has been named a Fulbright New Zealand scholar and will start her PhD in genetics at Stanford University in September next year.

As one of eight Otago students named as 2020 Fulbright scholars, Anežka’s studies in California will be funded with the support of a Fulbright NZ Science and Innovation scholarship.

Through the five-year genetics PhD program Anežka will have the opportunity to take advanced classes which involves rotating through different lab groups.

“This will allow the opportunity to find a lab group whose research interests align with my own in the areas of population genetics, human disease and personalised medicine,” Anežka says.

“I’m also looking forward to the exposure, networks and personal experiences that come with studying overseas, so I can learn the best skills to serve my people back here.”.

"We know that aspects of these conditions do have a genetic predisposition, and this research will help destigmatise them by highlighting they are not the fault of effected individuals. The focus can then shift away from the whakamā (shame) associated with having these types of disease and instead to their treatment."

Anežka is close to completing her Master of Science in Genetics, working with Ngāti Porou Hauroa, near Gisborne, and the wider Polynesian community furthering genetic mātauranga (knowledge) on metabolic diseases that influence obesity.

Using data collected for both Māori and New Zealand-based Pacific Islanders, the research is taking a genome-wide approach to identify people who may be at higher risk from diseases such as gout and Type 2 diabetes.

The research starts by sequencing certain parts of participants’ DNA and statistical tests are then used to find parts of the human genome that affect these types of disease.

“We know that aspects of these conditions do have a genetic predisposition, and this research will help destigmatise them by highlighting they are not the fault of effected individuals.

“The focus can then shift away from the whakamā (shame) associated with having these types of disease and instead to their treatment.”.

Anežka’s whaea (mother) is Ngāti Porou and she says being engaged with this research has strengthened her ability to connect back to the area which is an important part of her whakapapa.

“As my heritage is with Ngāti Porou, it’s a huge personal journey as well as great for my career.”.

Anežka has also spent time with her wider whanau during her research, and she views her mahi as ultimately giving back to them and the wider community.

“It has taken a lot of support and perseverance to get to this stage which I would describe as stubbornness with a vision,” Anežka says.

“My family, friends, supervisors and iwi have all invested into me because they too believe in the vision and I am very grateful for their support.”

Story by Guy Frederick, Communication Adviser (Sciences)