Newsletter Digest: Dietary supplements, a genetics roundtable and the Rutherford Medal

Briefing: dietary supplements
Dietary supplements such as multivitamin tablets and energy drinks are an increasingly common part of our lives, but should they be?

Concerns have been sparked recently by the availability of ultra-high caffeine energy drinks, the proliferation of people taking (often large) doses of vitamins/minerals every day, and an industry which appears to have very little legislation to guide its behaviour.

The Science Media Centre will next Tuesday host a briefing on dietary supplements, with experts looking at the science of dietary supplements and the state of play around legislation covering their availability in New Zealand. Journalists registered with the SMC will receive an alert with the details of the online briefing. For further details contact the SMC.

Roundtable on genetic research

Those who attended the Human Genome Research Project’s symposium on genes, society and the future in Wellington in March will be interested in a roundtable discussion the Project’s organisers are holding on Tuesday in Wellington looking at genetic research and clinical practice.

“This year’s roundtable will examine how genomic knowledge is produced through research, how it is used at the bedside in the clinical situation, and what sorts of parameters and safeguards are needed for using genomic knowledge,” say the organisers.

Speakers will include Professor Ronald Trent, Professor of Modern Molecular Genetics at the University of Sydney, Chair of NHMRC’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee, and Professor Ingrid Winship, Chair of Adult Clinical Genetics at the University of Melbourne and Executive Director for Research, Melbourne Health.

The Science Media Centre recorded the sessions at the last symposium. It was a very newsworthy event and the roundtable event is likely to prove useful to health and science reporters. Journalists should contact organiser Richman Wee to register for attendance.

Physiome Project leader honoured

Thunderous applause and a standing ovation greeted the announcement on Wednesday night at Auckland’s Hyatt Regency that Professor Peter Hunter had won the Rutherford medal – the country’s top science prize.

Many in the room felt the award was long overdue, as the researcher’s work in building a computational model of the human heart and his contribution to the international Physiome Project has done much to put New Zealand science on the world stage. The prize comes with $100,000 in cash, an amount which will be put up on an annual basis in addition to the $1 million in prizes associated with the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes. Other medal winners honoured at the Science Honours Dinner are listed here.

On that note, scientists and science communicators should be aware that applications for the first round of PM’s Science Prizes close on December 18. With that much cash up for grabs, you’d be silly not to enter!