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Award recognises biotechnologist’s achievements

31 Mar, 2010

Source: NZBIO

Dr Wayne Patrick of Massey University is the 2010 NZBIO Young Biotechnologist of the Year.

As a senior lecturer and director of research at Massey University, Dr Patrick works to discover and engineer novel biomolecules for use as molecular reagents or diagnostics.

One example is his work with an improved DNA ligase. This is a molecular biology enzyme that has been used by scientists since the 1970s to covalently join (ligate) two strands of DNA together. Ligation is a critical step for gene recombination and cloning.

The judging committee said Dr Patrick stood out as a candidate for this award because of his world-class research and development in the field of DNA ligase enzymes.

Dr Patrick says he is honoured to be named the NZBIO Young Biotechnologist of the Year. “The research in my lab group addresses fundamental questions about the evolution of enzyme structure and function, and we use that fundamental understanding to help us engineer biomolecules with new or improved functions. This award is an acknowledgement that biotechnological innovation can come from fundamental research, and I am excited that we here in New Zealand recognise that fact.”

Dr Patrick says the experiments that he feels helped win this award – engineering improved molecular reagents for life science research – are all being conducted by a cadre of talented undergraduates.

“More than anything, the NZBIO Young Biotechnologist of the Year Award is about potential for the future. I hope that my own best work is still to come, but thanks to my students, I am certain that the future of New Zealand biotechnology is bright.”

The prize for this award includes participation in the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology Scientific Delegation to the 2010 Bio International Convention in Chicago, Illinois.


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