Liggins Institute


This collaboration between the Liggins Institute and AgResearch is an initiative to use New Zealand’s skills in biomedical and biological research to maximum advantage in research that is applicable to the health and development of both humans and farm animals.


The Pastoral Foods for Human Health Research Centre is a virtual research centre in which scientists at New Zealand Crown Research Institute AgResearch are working with Liggins scientists on research that is applicable to the health and development of both humans and farm animals.

The team is exploring fundamental aspects of mammalian biology such as the way the environment during early development determines how nutrients will be partitioned between growth and energy production throughout life.

A fetus, human or animal, that has poor nutrition before birth may predict that it will be born into a world where food is scarce. It therefore sets its metabolism to store energy as fat rather than build muscle, thus setting up a tendency towards obesity in humans and carcass fatness in animals. This concept is known as developmental plasticity.

Improving our knowledge of these early life processes will give us the capacity to manipulate parameters, such as nutrition during pregnancy, to influence the activity settings of the genes that children and animals are born with.

Scientists in the Centre will work to develop better animal feeds, animal welfare products and practices and smart ways of handling and processing food products. In turn this will lead to a range of pastoral based foods with human health benefits.

The ultimate goal is to commercialise resulting research data, in turn benefitting local industry and enhancing economic returns.


Partner organisation

AgResearch is New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institute. It conducts research and development for the pastoral sector.

Visit the AgResearch website