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Gene-editing technologies

This expert panel is considering the implications of gene-editing technologies for New Zealand.

The Society has convened a multidisciplinary panel of New Zealand’s leading experts that is considering the implications of gene-editing technologies for New Zealand, including the research, ethical, social, legal, regulatory, environmental and economic considerations.  This panel is also considering New Zealand’s unique cultural perspectives.

The intention of the panel will be to raise public awareness of the technologies and their uses, and provide insight and advice on the future implications associated with the application of these new technologies for New Zealand.

View resources that have been developed and associated events at Gene editing in Aotearoa

Gene editing panel members

Dr David Penman (Co-Chair)

Currently Director of David Penman and Associates providing advice to government and institutions on science directions – including membership of the RSNZ Panel on National Taxonomic Collections (2016) and member of the Peak Panel for the National Science Challenges (2013-2015); support for the NZ Organisms Register as Executive Secretary to 2014; governance as Chair of the Governing Board for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (2005-2009); reviews of science programmes – Census of Marine Life, AgResearch Forages, Swedish Biodiversity Research.  Previously David was Professor of Entomology at Lincoln University with research interests in pest management and pesticide use policies (until 1994), Research Manager at Landcare Research (until 2006), and Professor of the University of Canterbury (2006-2008) and Assistant PVC (Research).  His main interests cover collaborative models for addressing significant societal challenges.

Professor Barry Scott FRSNZ (Co-Chair)

Barry Scott is Professor of Molecular Genetics at Massey University. His research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of agriculturally beneficial symbiotic interactions between plants and microbes. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of NZ in 2010 and awarded a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) in 2014. Barry is a principal investigator in the Bio-Protection Research Centre, a national centre of research excellence. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards for Molecular Microbiology and Molecular Plant Pathology. He was Head of the Institute of Molecular BioSciences for 5 years. Barry was a founding Board member of New Zealand Genomics Ltd (2010-2014) and the Environmental Risk Management Authority (1996-2000).  He was also a member of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Science Expert Panel appointed by the Minister of Science (1996-2002). He was Director of the Massey University Molecular Genetics Unit and the Massey Centre for Functional Genomics, and former Chair of the Queenstown Molecular Biology Meeting Inc.

Dr Jane Allison

Jane Allison is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at Massey University in Auckland, where she is also a member of the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and Physics. Jane is also an Associate Investigator with the Biomolecular Interaction Centre at the University of Canterbury and with the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery. After obtaining a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Canterbury in 2003, Jane moved to the UK in 2004 to study towards a PhD at Cambridge University as one of the inaugural Woolf Fisher scholars. She then moved to Zürich, Switzerland, to work as a postdoctoral research assistant at the ETH, before returning to New Zealand in January 2012. She now leads a research group at Massey who work on both the development of molecular simulation techniques and their application to problems in areas ranging from materials science and medical biochemistry through to answering fundamental evolutionary questions.

Dr Thomas Buckley

Associate Professor Thomas Buckley completed a BSc (1995), BSc Honours (1996) and PhD in Zoology (1999) at Victoria University of Wellington. He held postdoc positions at Duke University and Landcare Research from 2000 to 2004. He then transitioned to a permanent position at Landcare Research working on insect molecular systematics within the New Zealand Arthropod Collection. In 2010 he was made Research Group Leader for invertebrate systematics, a position that he holds today. In 2011 he was given a joint appointment at the University of Auckland as Associate Professor. He became Programme Leader for Programme 1 (“Real-time biological heritage assessment”) within the NZ’s Biological Heritage NSC in 2014. He was a Principle Investigator at the Allan Wilson Centre from 2010 to 2015. He was awarded the Research Medal from the New Zealand Association of Scientists in 2009. His current research focusses on the application of genomics methods to understanding the evolution and biodiversity of terrestrial invertebrates. He is also interested in phylogenetic methods and the analysis of genomic data sets.

Professor Peter Dearden

Peter’s research focuses on the evolution of shape and form in animals. By studying how the genes and pathways that make an animal during embryogenesis change over evolutionary time he seeks to understand how shape evolves.  Peter studies not only the way evolution interacts with development, but how the environment influences the way these genes and pathways work. Peter’s work focuses particular on insects, especially bees. Much of his work involves genetic studies of honeybees to support the beekeeping industry, and in searching for novel bee-friendly insecticides.  Peter also has a strong interest in science communication and community engagement, and is the Director of Genetics Otago, leader of the Lab-in-a-Box project and Associate Dean for Research in Health Sciences. Peter gained his PhD at Imperial College of Research, Science, and Technology, London UK and did postdocs at the University of Cambridge (UK), and the University of Western Ontario (Canada), before setting up his own research group in Otago in 2002

Professor Alexi Drummond FRSNZ

Alexi is a Professor of Computer Science, University of Auckland, who specialises in probabilistic models at the intersection of computational biology, phylogenetics, population genetics, epidemiology and evolution. He is a world leader in Bayesian inference for phylogenetics and population genetics and is a leader in the development of the internationally renowned open scientific software package BEAST and related statistical methodology. He is founder of scientific software company Biomatters Ltd, which has won awards for its commercial software Geneious.

Professor Gary Hawke FRSNZ

Professor Gary Hawke is now Emeritus Professor, Victoria University of Wellington, and Senior Fellow, NZ Institute of Economic Research. As Director of the Institute of Policy Studies from 1987 to 1998, he was responsible for projects in a wide area of public policy issues, including relations among Australia, New Zealand and the United States, New Zealand’s position in the Asia-Pacific region, public sector reform, taxation policy, regulatory management, the public responsibilities of private corporations and interactions between public and private sectors, education policy, the future of the welfare state, and biculturalism. He has consulted for government on education policy, social science capabilities, and retirement policy, and currently chairs the NZQA Technical Overview Group (Assessment) and is a member of the Ministerial Cross-Sector Forum on Student Achievement. He has been a member of the board of the New Zealand Committee of the Pacific Economic Co-operation Council, NZPECC, since 1987, serving as chair 2002-09. He is a member of the Academic Advisory Council of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia and represents NZ Institute for Economic Research on its Research Institutes Network. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Distinguished Fellow of the NZ Association of Economists and Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration of New Zealand.

Professor Mark Henaghan FRSNZ

Mark Henaghan is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at Otago University in New Zealand and is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Mark has a strong research interest in medico-legal matters (especially those involving children and young people), the human genome, and assisted human reproduction.  Mark is the sole author of Health Professionals and Trust: The Cure for Healthcare Law and Policy (Routledge, 2012) and Care of Children (LexisNexis, 2005). He has written more than 150 articles and book chapters that are published in legal journals and books around the world.  Mark was the Principal Investigator in the Human Genome Project, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation which produced 4 major reports – Choosing Genes for Future Children, and Genes Society and the Future.  Mark also provides legal advice on family law and medico-legal matters to lawyers and barristers from New Zealand and overseas on a regular basis.

Irene Kereama-Royal

Irene is of Hauraki, Ngāpuhi and Tūwharetoa descent, with a legal background in Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Rights Law, and a qualified Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Irene’s background experience traverses a number of sectors and disciplines including public science fund investment, science innovation and business management, Waitangi Tribunal senior administration, Iwi Board executive management, Māori housing senior management, Māori education research and board of governors, Māori land governance, Māori environmental law practice, law lecturing, RMA hearings representation, MāoriTrustee consultancy and Māori research collaborations in health, commercial development and environmental advocacy.

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith FRSNZ

Lisa Matisoo-Smith is the Professor of Biological Anthropology in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Otago. Her research focuses on understanding human migrations and settlement patterns, primarily in the Pacific. She uses the latest tools in DNA sequencing and ancient DNA and her work straddles both the social sciences and the biological sciences. Lisa works closely with communities in New Zealand and across the Pacific to engage them directly in research, ensuring that they are informed and that the research is relevant. She is committed to science communication and regularly gives talks to schools and other groups regarding human origins, human variation and the history of the settlement of the Pacific.

Associate Professor Susan Morton

Clinical Senior Lecturer at the School of Population Health and the Liggins Institute, and Director of the cross-disciplinary longitudinal study of NZ children and families (Growing Up in New Zealand). Susan is a Public Health Physician with a PhD in epidemiology and specializing in Public Health Medicine., a mathematician and an expert in life course epidemiology, translational research (providing robust evidence to inform policy evaluation and development), intergenerational wellbeing and econometric modelling of life course outcomes.

Dr Richard Newcomb

Richard Newcomb is the Chief Scientist at Plant & Food Research and Professor of Evolutionary Genetics at the University of Auckland. He completed his BSc and MSc at the University of Auckland, with his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from The Australian National University based at the CSIRO in Canberra.  In 1996 he returned to Auckland to work at HortResearch and the University of Auckland.  Richard is an author on over 100 publications and is an inventor on five patents.  He is associate editor for the Journal of Chemical Ecology and on the editorial boards of Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Flavour, and is a regular reviewer for a number of other international scientific journals and granting agencies. Richard has been the President of the Australasian Association for ChemoSensory Science and has been New Zealand’s representative on committee at the Genetics Society of Australasia. Richard has broad research interests focused around the biology, genetics and evolution of odour sensing in animals.  Recent work includes the identification of genetic differences between people in their ability to detect food aromas and the isolation of receptors from insects that allow them to detect important odours and sex pheromones.

Professor Joanna Putterill

Joanna Putterill is a Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland. Joanna uses molecular genetics to study the regulation of the time to flowering in plants using molecular biology, biochemistry and gene transfer techniques in the lab.

Professor Stephen Robertson

Stephen Robertson has been the Curekids Professor of Paediatric Genetics at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand since 2002. From 1999 – 2002 held a Nuffield Medical Fellowship at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, studying the genetic basis of a set genetic disorders characterized by severe, life-limiting malformations in children. His work in this area has led to the implication of several genes, in the generation of malformations in children, with a particular focus on conditions that affect the skeleton and brain. This work has included the characterization of the genetic basis of a broad group of disorders affecting the development of the skeleton, the implication of genes that contribute to the development of cancers in the genesis of skeletal and brain malformations and studies that have implicated retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, in skeletogenesis in humans. He was awarded the Health Research Council’s Liley Medal for outstanding contributions to medical research in 2010. Professor Robertson continues to be an active clinician, staffing clinics throughout the South and North Islands, in addition to teaching genetics to science and medical students in Dunedin. He serves as Assciate Dean (Research) within the Dunedin School of Medicine.

Dr Phil Wilcox

Phil is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Otago.  Phil is of Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Rongomaiwahine and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa and pakeha descent, and is the mandated spokeperson for Ngāti Rakaipaaka regarding a health and ancestry study undertaken with this iwi a number of years ago. He has also developed engagement frameworks for scientists working with Māori communities and is currently working with a team of Māori researchers developing culturally appropriate guidelines for biobanking and medical genomics.  In addition he is also Convenor of the MapNet collective, a nationwide network of genomics researchers, and leads the Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics.