15 Jul 2010

The Singing Scientist and Epigenetics

From Our Changing World, 9:06 pm on 15 July 2010

Epigenomes and the Singing Scientist

Complex science doesn't usually lend itself to music, but AgResearch's Matthew Barnett (below) has written a song about his research into epigenetics, and in particular whether food can turn genes on or off.

Matthew Barnett and his guitar

A part-time member of a rock band, he produced The Epigenome Song for last year's MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards. While his entry didn't win, the music video he produced has had more than 3,000 hits on YouTube (see video below).

Ultimately, Matthew hopes that his research will lead to the development of foods that can be matched to individual's genotypes, to offer specific health benefits. Another outcome could be personalised diets. His work sits under the umbrella of Nutrigenomics New Zealand, a group which aims to determine how foods and food components affect health at the molecular genetic level. (image: AgResearch)

To discover more about epigenetics, Ruth Beran visits the "Singing Scientist" in his lab at the University of Auckland's Liggins Institute.