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Presentation on theme: "FACTS, FALLACIES AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS"— Presentation transcript:

BIOTECHNOLOGY FACTS, FALLACIES AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS Mel Collings Center for Molecular Biodiscovery University of Auckland Young Maori Leaders Conference 20 – 21 June 2005

2 OVERVIEW Introduction to Biotechnology in New Zealand
The Science behind Biotechnology An example of Biotechnology Tikanga Ideas Surrounding the Research Discussion of Leadership and Future Developments

3 INTRODUCTION Biotechnology is loosely defined as the incorporation of biology in to today’s technology. To brew beer: Malted Barley Brewers Yeast

The New Zealand Biotechnology sector is currently made up of approximately 350 organizations, 20 research centers and 42 Biotechnology companies, and is still growing. Our strengths in Biotechnology lie in 5 particular areas: Animal-based Technologies Plant-based Technologies Biomedical and Health Research Innovative Food and Beverage Products Biocontrol and Biosecurity

5 THE SCIENCE In general, there is no one methodology that a researcher will use. Instead it depends on the application being developed. Step One: Identification of an unmet need. This is likely to be a problem within farming, agriculture, biomedical, food and beverages or biosecurity. Acknowledge that this is actually a problem, then try to describe and define that problem.

Examine other biological systems to see if this, or a similar problem, has arisen elsewhere. Identify a target that may potentially lead to a solution to the original unmet need. Step three: Investigate and characterize every single aspect of the identified target, both within the area of research and outside of the area of research as well.

Translate the identified and characterized target in to the area of the original unmet need, without disrupting it’s intrinsic function. Example: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

8 AN EXAMPLE Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is a metabolic disorder. Maori are three times more likely to develop this condition than the general population. Unaffected Person Affected Person Eat Food Eat Food Glucose Energy Glucose Energy Pancreas Insulin Pancreas Insulin Potential complications include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy and male impotence.

9 THE EXAMPLE CONTINUED Pharmacological intervention for this condition is centered in replacing the lost insulin. The first other biological systems investigated were that of pigs and cows. Current treatment involves administration of human insulin purified from bacteria. This treatment is almost totally effective, with minimal side effects.

10 TIKANGA ASPECTS The best description of Tikanga is the literal translation – rightness or correctness. As such it must be given due consideration when undertaking science research. On whose Tikanga should this be based? Does the science respect the tapu of the organisms involved in the research? What about the tapu of the God under whose domain that organism falls?

11 TIKANGA CONTINUED Is the science likely to cause any damage to the mauri of the organisms involved? Is there a precedent for the research? Would this allow a more traditional tauira or model to be built up? What if there is a breech of tapu, or damage to the mauri of an organism, how do you decide who is responsible? How can they go about making amends? Is it possible to reach a state of noa?

12 TIKANGA CONTINUED Often, it is down to the principles of the individual involved, with guidance under whanaungatanga and manaakitanga. Is this tika? These discussions will help us to decide, firstly, if we want to be involved at all and secondly, what we actually want to be involved in.

“Science is built up in facts the way a house is built up in stones; a pile of facts, however, is no more a science that a pile of stones is a house.” Every individual has some aspects of themselves that are like everybody else, some aspects that are like some others, and aspects of themselves that are theirs and theirs alone. An effective leader will recognize this and encourage individuals to use their own strengths to achieve a common goal for a common good.

14 LEADERSHIP CONTINUED Personal qualities exhibited by most leaders include: The ability to see the whole picture; The ability to exert a positive effect on others; The ability to seek out opportunities; Self confidence and confidence in others; Places emphasis on freedom and empowerment for the individual.

15 LEADERSHIP CONTINUED “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is create more leaders, not more followers.” A leader will take on two roles: Social or emotional – listening, acknowledging, supporting, maintaining group dynamic, resolution of conflicts. Managerial or task-based – organization and clarification of different roles, achievement of goals. An effective leader will manage the projects and lead the people.

16 LEADERSHIP CONTINUED So how do we achieve this? Use success to build success. Acknowledge the implied personal responsibility. There are two distinct types of leaders – assigned and emergent leaders. In general, our directions come as a balance somewhere between the two. We exhibit two great strengths: Ability to discuss and debate, to generate a collective voice or opinion. Recognition of our Kaitiakitanga responsibilities.

17 LEADERSHIP CONTINUED Science research should be openly discussed with everyday people as well as with our natural leaders, discussions prompted by our emergent leaders. The research itself should be undertaken with care, respect and responsibility. Maori leaders often bring with them unique insights that are likely to prompt the direction of the research into areas that are likely to be of more importance to us as a people. The requirements of emergent leaders are likely to change, but for the here and now, we need them to open those lines of communication.

18 SO, IN SUMMARY… Biotechnology is the meeting of biology and technology, and is an area of research that is slowly growing to encompass more and more areas of research. We are faced with the opportunity of prompting the direction of the research in to areas that we would like to see it move into. Emergent leaders should be tasked with the communicating the science to those outside the scientific community as well as undertaking the research themselves.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank the following people: Colleagues at the Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery. My supervisors, Professor Ted Baker, Dr. James Dickson and Dr. Chris Squire. One of my mentors, Professor Michael Walker. The Foundation for Research Science and Technology. THANK YOU ALL FOR LISTENING


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