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Aotearoa New Zealand genomic variome

Genomics diagnosis in human health in New Zealand is hampered because most of our understanding of genomic variation associated with disease comes from studies on Western European and East Asian populations. We are not sure if variants identified elsewhere have similar health relevance for the New Zealand population, while some variants with a major role in resilience or susceptibility to disease here don’t always have similar relevance in other parts of the world.  

Understanding the unique variation in the New Zealand population and its health consequences is therefore essential for accurate diagnosis and the effective use of genomics in our own healthcare. A New Zealand Variome is therefore needed to gather and analyse genomic variation in Aotearoa’s unique and increasingly diverse population.

This project will produce a New Zealand genomic catalogue. Researchers will sequence the genomes of New Zealanders, identify the variation inherent in these genomes and lay the groundwork so thatan understanding of the consequences of this variation can be built.  

It’s important the outcomes of this research will be equitable, benefit the wider community, and will address concerns regarding ethical use and security of data.  Critical to this project is that it is Māori-led, with co-development of processes that ensure consenting is carried out effectively and appropriately, and that benefits from the data and kaitiakitanga are consistent with Te Ao Māori.

The project brings together researchers from four universities and Real Time Genomics Ltd, will work with Growing Up in New Zealand and other national projects, and will build on existing partnerships with iwi.

Outcomes

  • Develop a catalogue of genetic variants observed in New Zealanders
  • Build analytical capability in human variation to support future genomic diagnosis
  • Create links with diagnostic services in the health sector
  • Create links with existing research programmes

Team

  • Dr Phil Wilcox (University of Otago) – co-lead researcher
  • Professor Stephen Robertson (University of Otago) – co-lead researcher
  • Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith (University of Otago)
  • Professor Murray Cox (Massey University)
  • Professor Tony Merriman (University of Otago)
  • Andrew Sporle (University of Auckland)
  • Dr Allamanda Faatoese (University of Otago)