Hot off the Press - Agresearch Media Release 'New Centre for Reproduction and Genomics opens today'

New Centre for Reproduction and Genomics opens today

9 December 2008

AgResearch’s new Centre for Reproduction and Genomics at its Invermay campus near Dunedin, will be officially opened today (2.30pm) by AgResearch’s former Chairman, Rick Christie.

Known as the Christie building, the state of the art Centre is to be the New Zealand heart of research into reproduction and genomics, with a focus on livestock and human reproduction, health and disease and, more generally, mammalian reproductive control. The Centre will house scientific teams from both AgResearch and The University of Otago.

AgResearch CEO, Dr Andrew West, says this Centre brings together respected expertise in New Zealand in the fields of reproduction and genomics. “Bringing together the complementary capabilities of both AgResearch and The University of Otago in genomics and reproduction will enable us to greatly advance in this type of research,” he says.

“New Zealand faces many challenges. Our pastoral sector will have to perform at a higher level but at a lower cost ...that will mean an increase in value rather than volume. Our farmers will have to depend on a variety of reproductive and genetic tools to make this happen ... and this is where the CRG has a major role to play.”

The Director of the Centre is Professor Neil Gemmell, who earlier this year was appointed to the AgResearch Chair in Reproduction and Genomics at The University of Otago. Professor Gemmell says the scope for the new Centre is very broad and its strength firmly based on existing collaborations. “New Zealand is undoubtedly a world leader in the fields of animal health and breeding and genomic technology. I think we can build on that, and take information from decades of work in livestock and translate it into other areas of animal and human health,” he says.

The Christie building was designed not only to focus on the practicalities of conducting leading edge research, but also with important environmental considerations in mind.

Wool insulation has been used throughout the building. “As a natural and renewable fibre with high performance properties grown on farm, wool offers a greener alternative to traditional insulation products, which are often made out of synthetic materials,” says AgResearch Chief Information Officer, Dr Phillip Lindsay.

While wool insulation in itself contributes to energy efficiency, other energy-saving measures have been incorporated in the design of the building. The building’s air-conditioning systems re-use warm air, but do not compromise air quality. The most up to date energy-efficient models of equipment have been fitted and a low energy and automated lighting system has also been installed. The building has also been double insulated with low-E glass.

With the development of the new building AgResearch has also taken the opportunity to review energy usage across its Invermay campus. A significant upgrade of its boilers is underway so that they can burn wood pellets or wood waste -- both renewable fuel sources.

Dr Lindsay says that given the specialist nature of the building and budget limitations, it was not always possible to put environmental considerations first, but overall it achieves a good balance between environmental concerns and the practical requirements of a specialist laboratory environment.

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