Genetics Otago, a University of Otago research centre,
will stage a series of public events this month to raise
awareness of revolutionary advances in research and health care
in this ''extraordinary'' field.
The ''Genetics Week'' celebrations will be held from
September 23 to September 29.
Genetics Otago publicity and events manager Sophia McKay said
the centre involved about 40 researchers when it was
established in 2008.
Now, more than 240 researchers - about 80% of them from the
university's Dunedin campus - were participating.
Genetics Otago had become the biggest centre for ''advanced,
multidisciplinary genetics research'' in Australia and New
Zealand, she said.
The centre's director, biochemist Peter Dearden, is based in
the Otago biochemistry department, but the centre is a
largely ''virtual'' collaborative grouping.
Instead of providing a big ''bricks and mortar''
headquarters, it connects collaboratively with researchers in
a host of disciplines and subject areas, ranging from law and
ethics to the environment and agriculture.
Ms McKay said the centre aimed to boost public awareness of
the ground-breaking research being conducted in New Zealand
and to support those people who were ''dedicated to this
Oxford University researcher Julian Savulescu, who is
director of the Institute for Science and Ethics, and Jessica
Wapner, a New York scientific journalist and author, are
among the key speakers at Genetics Week events.
Ms Wapner and Ian Morrison, head of the Otago University
pathology department, will discuss developments in leukaemia
treatment at an event being held at the Toitu Otago Settlers
Museum at 6pm on September 24.
Prof Savulescu and Colin Gavaghan, director of the Otago
University Centre for Law and Ethics in Emerging
Technologies, will discuss the ethics of genetics at another
Dunedin event on September 25.
Associate Prof Dearden and a series of other speakers will
discuss other aspects of genetics at Toitu at 6pm on both
September 26 and September 27.
Activities end on September 29 with a fun family DNA Day at
the Otago Museum.