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Fireside chats with the Liggins Institute

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Three hot topics to keep you warm this winter.

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From reducing inequities in New Zealand’s healthcare system, to the possibility of using gut bacteria to treat autism, join the Liggins Institute this winter for three fascinating fireside chats. Zoom in throughout July for the following conversations led by our panel of experts, with plenty of opportunity to pitch in with your own questions and comments.


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Fireside chat #1: Decoding the genome

Thursday 1 July, 5.30pm

Our genome is made up of coding and non-coding regions. The coding regions are our genes, but the roles of the non-coding regions are not so well understood.

Looking at the entire genome and not just parts of it may tell us more about why some people get disease more severely than others. Genetic testing also provides a way to identify possible treatments and preventative measures that can be put in place early.

The so-called ‘junk’ DNA is not junk! It’s the thermostat that controls our genes.

Presenter: Professor Justin O’Sullivan

Panellists: Dr William Schierding, Dr Tayaza Fadason, PhD candidate Sophie Farrow

Fireside chat #2: Inequities in healthcare

Wednesday 14 July, 5.30pm

Think medical care is uniform across New Zealand? Think again. If we take newborn babies as an example, the care they receive varies depending on where they live in New Zealand, what their ethnicity is, and whether they are preterm.

These differences can have a big impact on a baby’s short and longer-term health outcomes. There are ethnic differences in outcome, including survival, from critical congenital heart disease, and preterm Māori babies receive formula more quickly than Pākehā babies.

But why do these difference in healthcare provision exist, what can be done about it?

Presenter: Professor Frank Bloomfield

Panellists: Dr Anne Jaquiery, PhD candidate Simone Watkins

Fireside chat #3: The power of the microbiome

Tuesday 27 July, 5.30pm

The gut microbiome (our 'gut bugs') plays an important role in our health, behaviour and well-being. But it is unbalanced in a wide range of disorders - from obesity and diabetes, through to autism, anorexia and Parkinson’s disease.

Gut microbiome treatment has the potential to alleviate the features of many of these disorders. We have already shown that transferring the gut microbiome from healthy donors to teenagers with obesity reverses the symptoms of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, higher blood sugar, abdominal fat and high blood fat levels) after just a single treatment.

Now, for the first time, we are testing whether this can make a difference in young people with autism and anorexia, as well as extending our work in metabolic syndrome. Does the gut microbiome have the potential to transform our lives?

Presenter: Professor Wayne Cutfield

Panellists: Dr Ben Albert, Dr Tommi Vatanen, Dr Karen Leong, PhD candidate Brooke Wilson

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We’re dedicated to improving lifelong health through excellent research into the long-term consequences of early life events. Our vision is 'a healthy start for a healthy life'. You can get involved by joining a clinical trial, coming to an event, making a donation or simply sharing the research going on at the Liggins Institute with your networks.

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