Latest news

Masters’ Degree Scholarship at the Centre for Mathematics in Industry

Two Masters’ degree scholarships are being offered in the new Master of Sciences programme majoring in Industrial Mathematics and Statistics, beginning 2011. The scholarships are available through the National Research Centre of Growth and Development (NRCGD) and based at the University of Auckland Medical School. The thesis topic will be focussed on detailed aspects of the implementation on algorithms already developed for ‘targeted fetal growth’. One thesis will deal with data analysis (the candidate will need a statistical background); the other will concern the computational and mathematical extension of the existing theoretically-based algorithm.

For further information, please contact Professor Graeme Wake (g.c.wake@massey.ac.nz).

Professor Graeme Wake FRSNZ
Director, Centre for Mathematics in Industry
Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences
Private Bag 102-904, NSMC, Auckland, New Zealand
Tel +64 (0) 9 414-0800 ext 41053; Fax +64 (0) 9 441-8136

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Frank Bloomfield the new Acting Director of the NRCGD (July 2010): At the beginning of July, Associate Professor Frank Bloomfield stepped into the role of Acting Director of the NRCGD while the search continues for a new permanent Director (previously the position was held by Professor Sir Peter Gluckman). Frank replaces Dr Deborah Sloboda who has completed a 1-year term as Acting Director and now resumes the role of Deputy Director.

Frank is a neonatal paediatrian and a fetal and neonatal physiologist based at the Liggins Institute, The University of Auckland; he also has a clinical role at Auckland City Hospital.

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The National Research Centre for Growth and Development (NRCGD) is pleased to announce that Professor John Mattick AO FAA FRCPA (Hon) of the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience will present a public lecture on the central role of regulatory RNA in human evolution and development as the final event of the NRCGD’s 2010 Science Symposium.

For many years the received view in molecular biology was that ‘DNA makes RNA makes protein’, with RNA viewed simply as an intermediary.  However, it has recently become evident that our cells produce enormous numbers of RNA molecules that do not code for proteins but instead regulate embryonic development.  Non-coding RNAs also appear to be central to brain function and to be heavily involved in the mechanisms through which the environment can cause long-term effects on our health and that of our descendants.  We are beginning to realise that what has previously been dismissed as junk may well hold the key to understanding human evolution, development, and cognition, as well as our individual idiosyncrasies and susceptibilities to disease.  Professor Mattick’s work and ideas in this area have received coverage in major scientific journals including Science, Nature, and Scientific American, along with the likes of The New York Times.

Summary of details
Lecture title: (R)evolutionary Genetics: the Central Role of Regulatory RNA in Human Development
Speaker: Professor John Mattick AO FAA FRCPA (Hon)
Date: 5th August, 6pm
Location: Fale Pasifika, 20-26 Wynyard St, Auckland
Note: Please RSVP to info@nrcgd.org.nz

Further details available in the NRCGD press release.

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The 2010 NRCGD Annual Science Symposium is to be held in Auckland at Old Government House this year. The symposium, on the 4th and 5th of August, is a forum for NRCGD-funded students and scientists from across the country to get together and talk about their research and to build colloborations. For further details, please contact the directorate office: info@nrcgd.org.nz.

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The NRCGD’s 2009 Annual Report for is now available for viewing online.

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Ministerial visit to LENScince classroom (May 2010): Mrs Heather Roy, the Associate Minister of Education visited LENScience at the Liggins Institute on the 3rd of May. Mrs Roy was given a tour of the Sir John Logan Campbell classroom and then introduced to Year 11 mentor students from Tamaki College, Onehunga High School and St Cuthbert’s College, all of whom are recipients of LENScience Mentor scholarships.
After talking with the students, Mrs Roy spent time with LENScience Director Jacquie Bay, NRCGD Acting Director Dr Deb Sloboda, Liggins Director Professor Wayne Cutfield and senior members of the LENScience team discussing the work of the NRCGD and issues in science and science education including the fostering of gifted and talented students.
At the end of the visit Mrs Roy commented that it was pleasing to see that new developments in biotechnology and science were being made accessible to schools in a way that allowed students to see the linkages between science and everyday life.

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Associate Director of the NRCGD interviewed on Radio NZ (Dec 2009): On December 10th, Professor Hugh Blair was interviewed on the Radio NZ National’s ‘Our Changing World’ programme about Sheep Foetal Programming (nutrition in pregnant ewes and its impact on their lambs later in life), part of his groups research at Massey University and within the NRCGD. This interview can be heard on the Radio NZ National website.

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International funding for project to halt diabetes in children born prematurely (Dec 2009): Research based at The University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute has won funding from a joint New Zealand-Singapore research initiative into metabolic disease. The project, led by Liggins Institute Director Professor Wayne Cutfield in collaboration with Professor Chong Yap Seng at the National University of Singapore, aims to improve the future health of children who are born prematurely. » More details available in the Liggins Institute press release.

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Former aCORE Chairs honoured (Dec 2009): Professor Sir Peter Gluckman (NRCGD) and Professor Sir Paul Callaghan (of the MacDiarmid Institute), both former Chairs of the Association of Centres of Research Excellence (aCoRE), were honoured at a function in Wellington on December 2nd. Both men have been instrumental in the development and success of the CoRE model. The guest speaker for the event was the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bill English, who read citations and presented greenstone mere to the two men in recognition of their roles as science leaders. The evening was attended by representatives of each of the eight Centres of Research Excellence and their Boards, as well as the Vice-Chancellors of their host institutions.