Scholarship to support embryonic stem cell research

The University of Waikato has announced biological sciences student Sarah Appleby has won a C. Alma Baker Postgraduate Scholarship for her agriculture-focused masters research project.

The Massey University scholarship, worth $13,000, will go towards Sarah’s research into bovine embryonic stem cells.

“I’m working with Dr Bjorn Oback at AgResearch on bovine embryonic stem cells and testing their functional potential.

“Embryonic stem cells have really only been fully isolated from mice and rats, however the group at AgResearch (Ruakura) have developed a method that isolates cells from cows that have very similar properties to the mice embryonic stem cells.”

Tests have already shown that the cells perform well in the lab so Sarah’s work will be focused on seeing if they improve cloning efficiency.

“The aim of this work is to improve our understanding of bovine embryonic stem cells for their use in accelerated animal breeding and biomedical applications. If we can effectively capture the best traits using embryonic stem cells we could develop better biotechnology-based breeding systems to have animals that are more efficient and sustainable to farm.”

The former Whangamata Area School student completed a Bachelor of Science (Technology) at Waikato University and is half way through a Master of Science majoring in Biological Sciences, with an emphasis on physiology and genetics.

During a BSc(Tech) work placement, she spent three months at AgResearch (Ruakura), on a bovine karyotyping project.

During another placement, she spent seven months at AgResearch (Invermay) working on of projects related to sheep fertility and reproduction.

 

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