SMC Science Deadline: Science spending roadmap, Pacific dogs' DNA and Nobel Prizes

By Sciencemediacentre.co.nz received 3 years ago

Categories: Science
Age: 19 until 30 year 31 until 64 years 65 and older
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Issue 348,  09 Oct 2015

In this issue:

Science Investment
Nobel Prizes Policy updates
New from the SMC

Quick Links

SMC Alerts
Media Registration
About us
Contact the SMC

Top news from scimex.org  the Science Media Centre's news sharing platform.
Healthcare workers' smartphone risks
Long necks came before giraffes

Building a brain: Digitally recreating a rat mind

New test set to beat out heart attack risks

New from the SMC

Expert reaction: Getting to grips with glacier erosion
In the News: DNA reveals Polynesian dog’s travels
Expert reaction: Weighty neutrino discovery wins Nobel
In the News: Neo-nic pesticides need more examination
In the News: National science strategy
Expert reaction: Science strategy launched
Reflections: Science needs funding certainty to excel

  Applications open for Auckland and Wellington two-day workshops
Apply Here


New from the SMC global network

  Expert Reaction: Epigenetics and male sexual orientation   Briefing: Neuraminidase inhibitors in influenza   Expert Reaction: Neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral drugs   Expert Reaction: 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners   Briefing: Wildlife populations in the Chernobyl exclusion zone
Australian SMC
  Expert Reaction: Victoria set to legalise medical marijuana   Expert Reaction: High Court rules breast cancer genes can’t be patented   Expert Reaction: Bushfire season begins early   Expert Reaction: Gene-edited micropigs to be sold as pets

Science and the next decade

The Government has laid out its strategy for science investment out to 2025 in a new National Statement of Science Investment, launched this week.

The Statement outlines plans to raise business investment in R&D, introduce annual reporting on the science sector and simplify the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s contestable funding system.

“The NSSI provides a timely stocktake on the overall shape of our science system that will help determine where the next investments should be made,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said in a media release.

“Over the next five to 10 years, the science system will be increasingly prominent as it both shapes and is shaped by an economy that is increasingly innovation-led, with New Zealanders who are more engaged with science in their daily lives than ever before."
Commentary from the science sector, collected by the SMC, was generally supportive of the intent of the statement.
Wendy McGuinness, Chief Executive of the McGuinness Institute, said the Statement seemed to set a broader role for MBIE.
"Rather than predetermining and controlling the system, you get a sense that MBIE is aiming to be the guardian of the science investment system," she told the SMC. 
Dr Nicola Gaston, President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists, acknowledged that NSSI was a "great improvement" on the draft document released last year but expressed disappointment that the Statement failed to "address the severe shortage of stable post-doctoral fellowships in New Zealand."
You can read more expert commentary on the NSSI and a round up of media coverage on the Science Media Centre website.
Innovation on the Business Agenda
A number of the initiatives outlined in the NSSI were also highlighted in the 'Building Innovation' chapter of the Business Growth Agenda, launched by Minister Joyce in Christchurch on Tuesday.
The document outlines the stages of progress on 34 new projects that government agencies will work on over the next year alongside 28 current projects.

Policy news & developments

Drink labels: The New Zealand Beverage Council (NZBC) has decided to adopt the Health Star Rating (HSR) labels on nearly all non-alcoholic beverages.
R&D fund review: KiwiNet and partners have released an independent review on the impact of the first ten years of the MBIE PreSeed Accelerator Fund.
Cod rules: MPI has announced changes to blue cod rules for the top of South Island, including introducing a minimum legal size of 33cm across the region.
Conservation funds: DOC has announced hundreds of thousands of dollars in Community Conservation Partnership Fund grants for projects in the Nelson and Marlborough regions, and also in Otago.

DNA reveals dog's travels

The kurī – a breed of dog brought to New Zealand by Polynesian travellers, has been making headlines this week in the wake of new research tracing its genetic history.

The stuffed canine specimen at Te Papa remains one of the best representations of the now extinct kurī. Credit: Te Papa.
University of Otago PhD student Karen Greig has sequenced the complete, or near complete, mitochondrial genomes of 14 kurī represented by bones recovered from Wairau Bar, one of New Zealand’s earliest and most important archaeological sites.
The results of her research were published in the journal PLOS ONE yesterday.
Analysis of the genomes revealed limited genetic diversity, “which either suggests that the founding kuri population may have only been a few dogs or that the arriving dogs were closely related”, Greig said in a media release.
“One of the most exciting results was the discovery that by using these latest technologies Karen was able to sequence the entire mitochondrial genome as opposed to only a small portion, as done in previous ancient DNA studies of Pacific dogs,” said Greig’s co-supervisor, Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith.
“This revealed levels of genetic variation which may allow us to ultimately track down the origin of the New Zealand kurī and its relationship to other dogs found across the Pacific and through Island and Mainland Southeast Asia,”
The kurī were first brought to New Zealand by Māori in the 13th century and were highly prized for their fur, but have since been bred out of existence.
A round-up of related media coverage is available on the Science Media Centre website.

Quoted: New Zealand Herald

"The world would be a better place if more selfies were this good."
  Judges of the NIWA staff photo competition comment on the winning snap, diver Crispin Middleton's 'Toado Selfie'.


Science's highest honour

The discovery of neutrinos' shifting states, DNA's repair kit and weapons in the war on parasites have been recognized in this year's Nobel Prizes.

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald “for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass.” Expert reaction from the Science Media Centre of Japan is available here.
The Medicine and Physiology Prize was jointly awarded to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura "for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites", and to Youyou Tu "for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria."
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair." Expert reaction from the UK Science Media Centre is available here.

Nobel Prize in Literature for 2015 was awarded to the Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich, and the Economic Sciences and Peace Prizes are yet to be announced.

New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Plants in circular motion - What happens when plants grow on a spinning turntable? Marcus Wilson finds outs.
Physics Stop
Surviving a stranding: NZ80 at Hong Kong - Having survived this week's headline-making flight delay, Brendan Moyle shares his travelling tips.
Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings
Discovering planets… from your couch -  Chris Lintott’s Royal Society lecture has Peter Griffin thinking about citizen science.
Griffins Gadgets

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details. Innovation and the Environment - 9 October, Auckland. A discussion of the Obama Administration’s clean energy strategies and ongoing efforts to address climate change impact with United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Mark Gilbert.
  Is there really a link between low parental income and childhood obesity? 12 October, Auckland. Nicola Shackleton discusses a paper that assesses whether or not low familial income and family poverty are associated with an increased risk of child obesity.

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