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Government Collaborative Research Entity Changes Name

MEDIA RELEASE
22 November 2012

Government Collaborative Research Entity Changes Name – Builds Global Capability

New Zealand’s National Research Centre for Growth and Development (the NRCGD) has been renamed Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development. This is part of a plan by the NRCGD to build the capability and reputation of the organisation before a global audience.

The second leg of the plan, just completed, was to appoint a scientific advisory board from amongst the world’s best scientific minds in similar fields.

“We chose the name Gravida because it symbolises new life – our area of research,” says Professor Phil Baker, director of the NRCGD. “The name means ‘pregnant woman’ and the logo echoes the shape of a fetus. Our research focus, which is already a strength in New Zealand’s field of scientific study, surrounds the beginnings of healthy life in humans and agricultural animals and clearly the new name encapsulates this. It’s also descriptive, for all audiences with whom we communicate, easier to remember and more distinctive.”

Gravida is one of seven government funded Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs), set up in 2003. Gravida’s focus is to answer the research question ‘what makes a good start for a healthy life?’ for New Zealanders. The aim of Gravida is to translate findings from research focused around this question into better health for Kiwis, and increased agricultural productivity.

As part of its strategy to build capability and reputation globally, Professor Baker has sought and recruited an advisory board of seven of the best scientific, medical and agricultural minds in the world to guide Gravida’s research strategy. Also being established is an International College of over 20 experts who will provide thought leadership, peer review and PhD co-supervision.

One of the most significant recent recruits to the advisory panel is Professor Patrick Cunningham, till 31 August 2012 Ireland’s Chief Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Government. He is also a leading agricultural scientist, with his focus on animal DNA, and Professor of Animal Genetics at Trinity College, Dublin. He is regarded as amongst the most important science leaders in Europe and was most recently the key figure in bringing to Dublin, Ireland in 2012 the Euroscience Open Forum, Europe’s largest science exhibition and most important interdisciplinary science forum, attracting thousands of visitors. http://www.esof.eu/.

The other advisory panellists include:
Professor Euan M. Wallace (Obstetrician and Director of the Richie Centre, Monash University, Australia; Professor John Challis (Physiologist and Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto; Dr Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta, (Global Health expert and Professor of Maternal and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan; Professor Matthew W. Gillman, Director of the Obesity Prevention Program, Harvard University, USA; Professor Mark Hanson, Director of the Institute of Developmental Sciences, University of Southampton, UK; Professor Rebecca Simmons, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania, USA

“Gravida has set out to raise New Zealand’s research bar even higher,” says Professor Baker. “At the heart of our strategy is cross disciplinary collaboration – a sharing of expertise and knowledge across disciplines in New Zealand’s science community in Universities and research entities. We have limited funds in New Zealand, and we have to apply them wisely. So if you’re researching bees, for example, you might not meet someone who is involved in researching human DNA. But at Gravida, we’ve already achieved that, and the two are working together because there’s commonality in the gene responses they’re looking at. This collaboration is seldom achieved offshore, but it’s being achieved actively here.

“With both the name change and the appointment of a unique new scientific advisory board, and the International College, we are aiming to carve out much needed global and New Zealand recognition for the organisation. Recognition, reputation and the quality of our research in turn attract investment, funding, collaborative research partners, and result in an even greater depth and range of science with positive outcomes for New Zealanders.”
The new name change and logo was announced at Gravida’s annual symposium at Palmerston North on 20 November and a new website was also unveiled. www.gravida.org.nz

About Gravida
Gravida is one of seven, government-funded Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs). It was set up under its former name in 2003.

The organisation has six member organisations for whom it funds and guides research: Massey University, the University of Otago, the University of Canterbury, AgResearch Limited, Landcorp Farming and the University of Auckland.
Gravida funds leading scientists around New Zealand to investigate how environmental influences such as nutrition and maternal weight, before, during and shortly after pregnancy can alter the way humans and animals develop. The aim is to translate their findings into better health for New Zealanders, as well as into increased agricultural productivity.

The organisation is hosted by the University of Auckland.

Ends

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