Genomics Aotearoa

This page sets out our contract with Genomics Aotearoa, a new consortium of New Zealand's leading researchers in genomics and bioinformatics.

Below is the public statement from our contract with Genomics Aotearoa.

"Genomics is a branch of molecular biology that studies the DNA of organisms. It is concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of the organism’s complete DNA. Bioinformatics brings together statistics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering to analyse and interpret biological data.

The Consortium aims to connect what happens in the lab with the people who need to apply their research, in health, environmental science, and primary production. It’s about new research and better connections, to ensure that we get the best out of the research that is going on, here and overseas.

Genomics is an important field internationally, and has contributed greatly to our understanding of human health, as well as many other life sciences. It is a field that moves fast, with new technologies and approaches constantly being developed. For New Zealand, genomics is mission critical when it comes to conservation, helping our scientists protect the plants and animals that live here. It is also economically important, helping us develop new and better varieties of our economic species, including emerging species, and responding to pest and disease threats from overseas. For all these reasons, the Government has decided to make a strategic investment to build New Zealand’s research capability in genomics, and Genomics Aotearoa is the result.

By connecting New Zealand’s best brains in genomics with the world’s leading research groups, Genomics Aotearoa will bring the latest genomics technologies and insights to New Zealand, adapt them to our requirements, and train researchers in a wide range of fields in their use. Genomic data is especially important to Māori, as kaitiaki (guardians) of indigenous species. Our Kahui Māori will guide us on these matters as well as establishing the data protocols for Māori genomic data.

For health, by collecting genomic data on inherited disorders and non-communicable diseases, we can help physicians make better diagnoses and, ultimately, improve health outcomes for New Zealanders. This is particularly important for Māori and Pasifika, since little is known about the genetic diversity of the New Zealand population. We propose to assemble a national genomic sequence resource that will accurately reflect NZ’s genomic diversity and support both the science and the clinical translation of genomics. We will also train health researchers and other health professionals so they can use genomic techniques, becoming genomics capable.

In the environment theme, we will work at the leading edge of environmental genomics, to understand New Zealand’s unique plants and animals better, improving pest control and manging the environment to mitigate the impact of climate change. A major application of genomics in primary production is linking measurable characters to genomic features and applying this information to selective breeding in order to improve the profitability of a species.

The main focus of New Zealand’s genomic research to date has been sheep and cattle, but we want to work on emerging species (such as blue cod) and economic species with large or complex genomes (such as radiata pine). The research we undertake will provide a platform for many of our emerging industries to learn and benefit from the investments made in our mature primary industries. In all three themes, training researchers and translating research Genomics Aotearoa Business Case 25 May 2017 three findings and approaches to industry and other users of research, including communities, will be an important measure of our success."