Peter Dearden

Associate Professor Peter Dearden leads Southern Genes. He is the director of Genetics Otago. Peter was trained at Victoria University, PhD at Imperial College, University of London. He then worked in the Wellcome (now Gurdon) institute and the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge; the Zoology department, University of Western Ontario; and returned to New Zealand and the University of Otago in 2002. Peter is a researcher in the Laboratory for Evolution and Development, and Otago site leader for the National Research Centre for Growth and Development. Peter's research is centered in Evolution and Development, Epigenetics and Developmental plasticity. Peter is on Twitter @peterkdearden

The $10,000 Human Genome - Genomics Aotearoa

Dec 10, 2010

Mary Gray, PhD Student, Clinical Genetics Research Group The Human Genome Project began in 1990 and took 13 years and at least $3 billion USD to complete. A biotechnology company called Illumina has recently announced that you can sequence your own genome for $10,000 USD – and it will only take around eight days to complete. The costs of genome sequencing will come down further, with the ultimate goal so far being the $1,000 genome which will probably be available in three to five years. So what has happened to technology since the first heroic attempt to sequence the human genome? The human genome contains approximately 3 billion nucleotides or bases. The nucleotides in our DNA have four different chemical compositions which are called adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). Your DNA is a double … Read More

Interview with a Science Communicator: Gillian McKay - Genomics Aotearoa

Dec 07, 2010

SM Morgan This week I have an interview with Gillian MacKay — the lovely Genetics Teaching Fellow at the University of Otago. Gillian has been with Genetics now for about 5 years, and does a job which is both highly varied and high in student contact. She is Scottish (retains the accent to prove it) and attended Edinburgh University for both her honours and her PhD degrees. Gillian’s honours project was on a topic close to my own heart — that of Drosophila development and the role of a particular gene on mRNA localization and axis specification. Gillian riding Edie to competition For her PhD Gillian moved from the beautiful fruit … Read More

This Week in Science History: 6-12-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Dec 06, 2010

Tamsin Jones, Laboratory for Evolution and Development ’In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind’: 7th December 1854. Louis Pasteur ’In the fields of observation chance favours only the prepared mind’. Louis Pasteur first said this now famous phrase at a lecture on the 7th of December, 1854. Pasteur spent the majority of his time observing rather than actively experimenting, and yet made many important discoveries. The role of chance in scientific discovery is enormous — for example, many commonly used drugs have been discovered ‘by accident’. The occurrence of an unexpected result, however, is not the point when a scientific discovery is made: the scientist needs to be able to interpret the result and make sense of it. Thomas Cech born 8th December 1947 … Read More

Science Horror-scopes: December - Genomics Aotearoa

Dec 03, 2010

By Doc. Chaos I see spring cleaning in your future — lab stylz. Yeah, that means cleaning 10 years worth of baked-on agarose out of the microwave. I know the specific date — but won’t tell, we don’t want you to turn up mysteriously sick that day do we? . . . Every single one of your conference-pen collection will mysteriously disappear this month. What will you write with now?! (I’m building a pen-fort in the basement! If you can guess the password you can come in for tea :D) . . . Now that the students have left your lab for the year you will find the broken equipment … Read More

Phishing Flowers - Genomics Aotearoa

Dec 02, 2010

SM Morgan It is surprising how often technology mimics nature, and in the most subtle of ways. Take for example the phenomenon of email phishing — a probe is sent out to entice the recipient with something they want/need; for example, a MillionDollars!, an OnlineEasyDoctorate! or a ready supply of CheapDrugs! Once enticed, the source gets something it needs — most often, your unwitting money, and depending on how savvy you are — you get something back as well. In your garden this same bait-and-reel technique is being employed by your flowers. Plants achieve sexual reproduction via flowers — and the combination of egg cell and pollen granule. To achieve maximum genetic variation, the flower needs pollen from another plant. This is facilitated by wind, and, to a greater extent, insects transporting the pollen on their legs and bodies. Read More

Congratulations! - Genomics Aotearoa

Nov 19, 2010

Belatedly Genetics Otago would like to congratulate three GO members who won awards at the recent NZ Research Honours Evening. Prof Warren Tate won the Rutherford Medal for his outstanding work on the molecular biology of translation, and neuroscience. Prof Stephen Robertson won the Liley Medal for his excellent work on the wtx gene and its role in disparate diseases. Dr John Reynolds was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship to continue … Read More

This Week in Science History: 1-11-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Nov 04, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD Student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development Polio Virus is Crystallized — 1955 In 1955, on the 2nd of November American sciemtists Carlton Schwerdt and F.L. Schaffer crystallized the polio virus. This was the first animal virus to be obtained in crystalline form. (The first plant virus, tobacco mozaic virus, had been crystallized in 1935 by W.M. Stanley.) Each virus crystal is composed of many thousands of virus particles. Virus preparations pure enough to crystallize usually provide the best material for chemical study. The crystallized form was used to split the virus into infectious and non-infectious parts. Their research laid the groundwork for the polio vaccine. Émile Roux – Died 3 Nov 1933 (born 17 Dec 1853) Émile Roux was a French bacteriologist who began … Read More

Science Horror-scopes: November - Genomics Aotearoa

Nov 01, 2010

By Doc. Chaos You will find out 50% of your genes have been mislabelled: you have actually been cloning the ‘pig head’ region of the genome. Not at all related to your work really. What a waste of time! . . Your supervisor/boss will spill coffee all over your note book this month, blame you — and then complain about the off-milk smell at every meeting for the next 30 days. You really should be more careful. . . . Somebody you know will have a baby. Or someone who knows someone you know will have a baby. Either way, you should ring everybody you know to find out for sure. Read More

Interview with a Science Communicator – Sophia McKay - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 28, 2010

By SM Morgan. This week I have something exciting in store — a non-science person answers my multitude of questions. Camera shy Sophia, hard at work in her office. Sophia McKay is currently the publicity manager for Genetics Otago (GO) and has been with us now for almost 2 years. She has a most exciting and varied background including University study, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in Hong Kong and Japan, modelling, and managing restaurants — all before returning to NZ and living in Queenstown, managing Gibbston Valley winery.   After the winery Sophia managed exclusive luxury lodges (we’re talking helipads and pilots, ironed undies and about USD$20k/week charges here people) and when finally sick of playing sycophant to wealthy tourists she got a job at a … Read More

This Week in Science History: 25-10-10 - Genomics Aotearoa

Oct 27, 2010

Megan Leask, PhD Student, Laboratory for Evolution and Development Marian Koshland Born 25 Oct 1921; died 28 Oct 1997. Koshland was an American immunologist who discovered that the differences in amino acid composition of antibodies explains the efficiency and effectiveness with which they combat a huge range of foreign invaders. In 1970 she became a professor of Microbiology and Immunology, after which she discovered the J chain (a B cell antibody subunit).  In 1991, with colleagues, she identified a specialized intracellular pathway that transports antibodies into blood circulation, allowing for the multiplication of B cells essential in fighting infection. Sir Richard Doll Born 28 Oct 1912; died 24 Jul 2005. British epidemiologist who was one of the first two researchers to link cigarette smoking to lung cancer, as published … Read More