Find programmes with a research element, including the PhD.
- Master of Health Science
- Master of Health Science (Bioscience)
- Master of Health Science (Medical Laboratory Research)
- Master of Science (Biological Sciences)
- Master of Science (Ecology)
- Master of Science (Physiology)
- Master of Science (Zoology)
- Master of Veterinary Studies (Epidemiology)
Search for an expert
Search our staff database for an expert or area of expertise.
A good gut feeling for overall health
The diversity of the bacteria in our gut could be a vital marker for our overall health. Massey researchers want to test whether taste perception, dietary intake, eating behaviour, sleep and physical activity influence and modify the gut microbiome and how it impacts health, such as metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Ira Moana - Genes of the Sea
The Ira Moana Project aims to deliver a searchable metadatabase for our genetic and genomic data (from both old and next-generation sequencing techniques, for terrestrial and marine critters, as well as environmental samples).
The metadatabase will ensure the kaitiakitanga of our data– creating opportunities for data synthesis, data re-use, and to inform our future research directions.
Humans may have twice as many functional genes
While some genes in our DNA control the colours of our eyes, hair and even our risk of disease, other genes have seemed to serve no apparent biological function. A study co-authored by Massey’s Dr Sebastian Schmeier produced a comprehensive collection (28,000) of long non-coding RNA molecules and summarised for the first time their expression pattern in the major human cell types and tissues. It found evidence of evolutionary selection and links with major diseases.
Saving our honeybees
The bacterial pathogen, Paenibacillus larvae causes the honeybee disease American FoulBrood (AFB) the most serious disease of these important pollinators in New Zealand. The pathogen is spread through spores, which once ingested by young bee larvae, rapidly multiply and kill by breaking down the larvae’s body. The highly infectious nature of the pathogen means that once the signs of AFB are recognized in a New Zealand hive, it must be destroyed within seven days. Scientists from Massey University, led by Dr Heather Hendrickson, are investigating a natural bioprotective agent that may be key to keeping the pathogen at bay.
Finding the Achilles’ heel of breast cancer
APOBEC3 proteins provide a key part of our defence against viral pathogens. They act by attacking single-stranded viral DNA (ssDNA) and destroy their genetic information by mutating the cytidines to uridines. For this defence to work, it is essential to distinguish between pathogen DNA and our own genetic information. How A3 proteins recognize specific ssDNA and specific pathogens, but neither double-stranded DNA nor RNA, remains unknown. The study aims to identify this recognition strategy and help develop a compound to mitigate this issue. The work is being done in collaboration with University of Minnesota.
Dairy shown to improve bone health of Kiwi children
Massey University research shows children drinking milk at school have greater increases in the size and strength of their bones, compared to children who are not involved in the Fonterra Milk for Schools programme.
Fighting a dangerous disorder
The use of anaesthesia is regarded as one of the safest medical interventions, however, major complications—even death—can occur.
Tracing the course of a person’s reaction to anaesthesia is a complex problem. Professor Kathryn Stowell is leading the research on malignant hyperthermia (MH) – a genetic disorder that triggers a serious reaction to anaesthesia.
If MH-susceptibility can be determined prior to general anaesthesia, an alternative non-triggering and safe anaesthetic procedure is used, potentially mitigating severe complications and possibly death during routine surgeries.
Bacteriophages – the most numerous entity on the planet
Phages target specific bacterial strains in nature and as a primary parasite of bacteria they are responsible both for bacterial mortality and for transferring genes between bacterial strains. A team led by Heather Hendrickson are investigating, characterising and sequencing these entities in order to learn more about the role they play in the microbial world and their diversity. The group currently study Pseudomonas phages, Lactococcus phages, Paenibacillus phages and Mycobacterium phages.
Departments and staff
Find out more about the departments and staff involved in biological sciences research at Massey.
Research centres and groups
AL Rae Centre for Genetics and Breeding
The Centre ensures sustained development and application of knowledge in quantitative genetics and breeding to enhance the profitability of New Zealand's primary industries.
Centre for Metabolic Health Research
The Centre for Metabolic Health Research facilitates interdisciplinary research in metabolic health, with key aspects being the prevention of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the maintenance of mobility and functionality throughout the lifecycle.
Centre for Postharvest and Refrigeration Research
The Centre for Postharvest and Refrigeration Research does research and consultancy to provide cost-effective solutions to industry problems. We work on a wide range of fruit, vegetable, cut flower, seafood and aquaculture products.
Centre for Structural Biology
The Centre combines state-of-the-art crystallographic, NMR, computational, biochemical, and biophysical approaches to study biomolecular structure, dynamics and interactions.
The centre houses New Zealand's finest collection of NMR spectrometers (700, 500, 400 and 200 MHz) along with a a new Xray diffraction suite.
Researchers in the Digesta group share an interest in the physical processing of digesta within the human gastrointestinal tract. This interest is borne principally out of the need to understand how digesta mixes to allow digestive enzymes to act on nutrient particles, and how the nutrients are transported to cells in the wall of the intestine.
The EpiCentre is the largest veterinary epidemiology training and research centre in Australasia. It is widely considered to be one of the leading groups in the world. We have expertise in the understanding and control of disease in animal populations, the transmission of disease from animals to humans, and hazards in food of animal origin.
The Hopkirk Institute is a joint institute – scientists are from both AgResearch and Massey University. It has the southern hemisphere's largest concentration of health sciences for pastoral-fed animals.
Scientists collaborate on researching solutions for the sustainable control of parasitic diseases, primarily in sheep and cattle including:
- evaluating more effective vaccines to combat infectious disease, including tuberculosis, Johne's disease, mastitis and pneumonia
- identifying and predicting food poisoning threats in New Zealand and devising strategies to minimise their prevalence and impact.
Infectious Disease Research Centre (IDReC)
The Centre engages in applied research concerning multi-host pathogens and fundamental research regarding pathogen evolution and disease emergence. We cover the spectrum of population-based infectious disease research from microbiology, through population genetics, epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, disease ecology, statistics, mathematical modelling, and public health.
New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre
The Centre, hosted by Massey University, focuses on better ways of detecting hazards in the food production chain and reducing the risk of food-borne illness to consumers. The Centre aims to provide an internationally credible science base for decisison-making in public health and the food industry.
The mEpiLab's works to improve the health of New Zealanders by developing and applying new techniques to inform decision making and guide the prevention and control of infectious disease.
Awards and recognition
A new model for studying cancer biology and regenerative medicine has been awarded a $150,000 Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) Explorer Grant.Health Research Council
Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) Explorer Grant
A project led by Associate Professor Jennifer Tate received $929,000 for a project to determine if there are genomic "rules" to successful polyploid speciation.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for allopolyploid research
Dr Olin Silander was awarded $895,000 from the Royal Society's Marsden Fund for the project 'Stuff Memories Are Made Of: How Bacteria Remember and Learn from Environmental Signals'.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for bacteria research
Professor Benoit Guieysse was awarded $920,000 from the Royal Society's Marsden Fund for the project 'The greedy algae that are great for our environment: why do they pay an energy penalty to gorge phosphate?'Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for environmental engineering research
Dr Gillian Gibb was awarded $300,000 from the Royal Society's Marsden Fund for the research project 'Why fly when you can walk? Genetic pathways to flightlessness'.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for flightlessness research
Dr David Winter received $300,000 funding for the project 'Treasure from the junk pile: Do transposable elements drive the evolution of gene expression?'Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for gene expression research
Professor Murray Cox was awarded $925,000 from the Royal Society's Marsden Fund to research what fraction of genetic change actually causes a corresponding change in phenotype.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for genotype research
Dr Helen Fitzsimons was awarded $795,000 from the Royal Society's Marsden Fund for the project 'A new role for HDAC4 in neuronal morphogenesis and memory'.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for neurone research
Professor Geoff Jameson and Professor Bill Williams were awarded $935,000 from the 2018 Royal Society's Marsden Fund for the research project 'Pectin methylesterases: turning pectin function with complex variations upon a simple theme'.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for pectin research
Professor Peter Lockhart was awarded $925,000 from the Royal Society's Marsden Fund for the project 'Improved modelling in evolutionary transcriptomics and proteomics will advance understanding of plant adaptation'.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for plant adaptation research
Professor Tim Cooper received $953,000 for the research project: Evolving to evolve: testing how history and community influence evolutionary potential.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for research into evolvability
Elizabeth Ostrowski received $957,000 for her research project: Can Arms Races Occur Within a Species?Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for research into species warfare
Lead investigator Dr Heather Hendrickson was awarded $884,000 for the project 'It’s complicated: experimentally tracking the evolution of endosymbiosis in real time.'Royal Society Te Apārangi
Marsden funding for the evolution of endosymbiosis
Dr Collette Bromhead was appointed chief executive of the New Zealand Organisation of Rare Diseases (NZORD). The health advocacy organisation represents the interests of New Zealanders affected by rare disorders by promoting research and partnering with clinicians to improve diagnostics, treatments and support.New Zealand Organisation of Rare Diseases
Massey lecturer appointed head of rare diseases organisation
Massey University biochemist Kathryn Stowell was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015 for her discovery of a novel gene variant in the rare genetic disorder Malignant Hyperthermia.New Year Honours
ONZM for life-saving research
Professor David Hayman was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2017 worth $160,000 a year for five years. The Fellowship is awarded to support talented early to mid career researchers.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Rutherford Discovery Fellowship
Professor Murray Cox has been awarded the Te Rangi Hīroa Medal by the Royal Society Te Apārangi for his work decoding how past societies lived through their genetic data.
The Medal recognises excellence in the social sciences and was established in memory of Sir Peter Buck.Royal Society Te Apārangi
Te Rangi Hīroa Medal