Nutrigenomics – how do our genes affect our nutrition?

appleWhat sorts of foods should you — personally — eat to be healthiest?

Nutrigenomics studies the interaction between our genes and the foods we eat. Specifically, it looks at how people with different genetic makeups are affected by different foods, with the aim of matching people to the foods that suit them best.

This emerging field brings together scientists, policy makers and health professionals in pursuit of the goal of one day providing personalised nutrition advice, and developing functional foods that will optimise health according to individual needs.

This week in Auckland, the 4th Asia Pacific Nutrigenomics Conference brings together experts from around the world to discuss this burgeoning science, and the Science Media Centre has selected an online panel to talk about the field, its potential benefits, and what’s happening in New Zealand.

Following the briefing, the audio will be posted to the SMC website, and  registered journalists can access the slides from the SMC Resource Library.


Dr Jim Kaput – Director, Division of Personalised Nutrition and Medicine, United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Dr Kaput joined the FDA/National Center for Toxicological Research in November 2007.  He also has adjunct appointments in the Division of Genetics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Adinovo Center for Genetic & Genomic Medicine at Zhejing University (Hangzhou, China). In addition, he is an active member of the Human Variome Project ( which seeks to seeks to analyze genetic variation in individuals in ancestral groups around the world.

Dr Michael Fenech – Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences

Dr Fenech has more than 20 years of research experience in the field of genetic toxicology and nutrition. His current research focus is Genome Health Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics i.e. the investigation of how genetic and nutritional background determines nutritional requirement for genome maintenance or prevention of genome damage on an individual-by-individual basis.

Prof Lynette Ferguson – Programme leader, Nutrigenomics New Zealand; Head of Nutrition, University of Auckland

Prof Ferguson studies mutagenesis in cancer development, DNA damage and repair, and cancer in the New Zealand context. Given that some of the most common major cancers in New Zealand are associated with dietary causes, much of her basic research has focused on understanding the role of dietary fibre and other protective dietary factors in cancer. She is also Director of Mutagen Testing at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre (ACSRC).

Part I – Jim Kaput and Michael Fenech


Part II – Michael Fenech and Lynnette Ferguson


Further Information

To follow up on this topic with our speakers or other New Zealand experts, please contact the Science Media Centre on tel: 04 499 5476 or email: