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Collaboration in food and biological research



Major collaboration in food and biological research


16 December 2008


Two of New Zealand’s leading research organisations, The University of Auckland and AgResearch, have announced a major new collaboration to improve human health through diet.

They will work closely together on research in growth and development at the scientific interface between human and animal biology. In particular they want to develop new animal-based foods to keep people well and strong.  

Their collaboration will be centred on the University’s prestigious Liggins Institute under the directorship of Professor Peter Gluckman FRS.

AgResearch will second some staff to the Liggins for a new joint centre and the two parties will jointly invest in new research which will be jointly commercialised for New Zealand’s benefit. The CEO of AgResearch will join the Advisory Board of the Liggins Institute.  Professor Gluckman will take on a role of assisting AgResearch in defining strategies to capture the best benefit from its research in growth and development.

“Our vision is to leverage the underutilised synergies of the two organisations,” says AgResearch CEO Dr Andrew West. “New animal-based foods have huge potential to help with major, currently unmet human health needs. This could create transformational change in the pastoral livestock, food and health sectors.”

“Our goal is to create new knowledge and intellectual property around the production of highly nutritious foods from livestock and thereby bring about marked improvements in human health through diet,” says University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon, who also has a background in pastoral animal research. “We will focus on research areas that can pull the New Zealand agricultural and food sectors out of their current commodity tracks and bring compelling economic benefits to this country.” 

The collaboration will build on major developments in biomedical research such as the recent understanding of metabolic processes that lead to obesity in humans and increased carcass fatness in farm animals, says Professor Gluckman. “This new knowledge now allows us to manage and improve the health of infants and young animals through better nutrition. This new initiative is the first step in what we hope will be a new vision for best using New Zealand’s skills in biomedical and biological research for maximum advantage.” 


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