Best brains, finest facilities for great science
The Hopkirk Research Institute in Palmerston North.
Today’s big scientific questions are best tackled by bringing together leading researchers, backed by state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment. This ethos has been behind the establishment of several new collaborative research centres in recent years, centres that are already facilitating important scientific progress.
The Hopkirk Research Institute and its supporting Ulyatt-Reid Animal Research Facility opened in Palmerston North in 2007. A collaboration between AgResearch and Massey University, the $30 million facility marks a new era in animal health research in New Zealand.
The joint centre has already facilitated several significant advancements. These include the commercial release of the CarLA Saliva test for sheep farmers, used to detect animals with increased resistance to worms. After five years of development, the test was released to a small group of farmers in the summer of 2009/10, with very promising uptake.
Meanwhile, an initiative to encourage AgResearch scientists to collaborate with Massey University has seen the establishment of some 12 small-scale collaborative projects between the two groups, covering a range of topics including parasitology, infectious diseases, food safety and public health.
To enhance New Zealand’s capability to protect ourselves against biosecurity and infectious disease threats, The National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease (NCBID) – Wallaceville, in Upper Hutt, began operations in 2008.
The Centre is a collaboration between AgResearch, MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, ESR (Environmental Science and Research) and AssureQuality, bringing together an impressive group of human and animal health specialists to help safeguard animal and human health, and protect the economy.
It’s been just over 18 months since the opening of the Christie Building, the home of the Centre for Reproduction and Genomics at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin, and already it boasts an impressive set of research successes on the national and global stage.
The $15 million Centre unites researchers from AgResearch and the University of Otago in a state-of-the-art building, forming a hub of worldleading research in human and animal reproduction and genomics.
Its first year saw the establishment of numerous new collaborative projects that will benefit knowledge of both human and animal-related health issues. These projects include using a sheep model to investigate the genetic basis of polycystic kidney disease and research that hopes to shed light on the genetic basis of placenta formation. These projects, along with several others were enabled by funding from the AgResearch - University of Otago Collaborative Research Fund in 2009.
Two significant genetic achievements of worldwide importance have also come out of the Centre. CRG scientists were pivotal in sequencing the bovine genome, opening doors to fast track genetic research and progress in the meat and dairy industry, and they also played a key role in the development of the Ovine SNP50 BeadChip (see page 5).
To add to the impressive accomplishments to date at the three centres, these forward-looking research facilities will facilitate great science for many years ahead, says AgResearch Chief Information Officer, Dr Phillip Lindsay.
“Science changes rapidly, so in each of these buildings we have focused on spaces that can be easily adapted to suit future research requirements. Innovative design has created spaces that promote a sharing of facilities and ideas to optimise the complementary capabilities coming together.”