What We Do
The Maurice Wilkins Centre produces world class research and makes exciting scientific discoveries. We harness and link New Zealand’s outstanding expertise in biomedical research to develop cutting-edge drugs and vaccines, tools for early diagnosis and prevention, and new models of disease.
Our mission is to bring together scientists from a range of disciplines and research institutions to target serious human disease. Accordingly, the centre serves as a virtual hub, or point of contact, for a broad range of scientific expertise in molecular biodiscovery. They key planks of our work include:
- research into human diseases
- building collaborative scientific networks
- educating the next generation of scientists.
Source of high-value research
Our major research focus is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, diabetes and infectious disease. By seeding high-risk, high-reward projects, we support research that is not funded by other mechanisms. Through contract research, consultancy and sharing of facilities and expertise, we have contributed to the creation and development of new companies as well as contributing to innovation within established companies. Our fundamental scientific discoveries and novel technologies enable new lines of research that advance the understanding of human disease and enable innovation in other sectors, including New Zealand’s primary industries.
Strategic alignment of New Zealand biomedical research
We are working to strategically align the research programmes and infrastructure of our investigators up and down the country. This produces synergies, and increases the efficiency and competitiveness of New Zealand biomedical research, by enabling the sharing of expertise and resources, and improving access to advanced research equipment.
Building collaborative networks
The Centre has a unique national role in bringing together investigators with complementary expertise, enabling innovative new research and encouraging collaborative projects. We incorporate partner and collaborating institutions from around the country including six universities, three Crown Research Institutes, and two private research institutes. Our principal investigators investigators are joined by more than 230 associate investigators and over 300 early to mid-career affiliates from a range of disciplines, to form a network that tackles complex questions which no one field alone could address.
Our investigators represent most of New Zealand’s expertise in bringing new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools to clinical trial. They have also developed strong relationships with the healthcare sector and biopharmaceutical industry. In addition we cultivate collaborations with international researchers and research institutions, and we’re committed to building scale in the New Zealand biomedical sector and hence the New Zealand economy.
Leading the way for young scientists
The Maurice Wilkins Centre is committed to training New Zealand’s future leaders in biomedicine. We are actively involved in science education and training at secondary and tertiary level, and support the development of early-career researchers and those already established in their fields. Our multidisciplinary and collaborative ethos ensures an excellent training environment, including exposure to the ethical, managerial and entrepreneurial aspects of translational science (making findings from basic science useful for practical applications).
It is important for students to see that scientific research of the highest international quality can be done in New Zealand, and that they can make major contributions to the social and economic wellbeing of their country. The example set by Maurice Wilkins Centre leaders in choosing to return from research positions overseas to work in New Zealand provides a powerful incentive for our top young scientists to do likewise.