Scientists involved in the initial response to swine flu are among those set to lose their jobs at a Crown Research Institute.
Staff at Environmental Science and Research are being consulted over a proposal to cut 13 jobs in the environmental health group at the institute.
Roles under threat also include people working on food safety issues and water quality.
Environmental health group general manager Fiona Thomson-Carter says efforts are being made to minimise damage to what she calls critical national reference services and outbreak response.
Ms Thomson-Carter says it is difficult to keep on top of research when public sector budgets are being cut, but the institute will do its utmost to retain its expertise in human health.
The Public Service Association questions why there should be job losses when the Government has indicated that science and innovation will benefit from the Budget on 20 May.
The Public Health Association is also critical. National executive officer Dr Gay Keating says it is a false economy to cut staff who play a backroom role in the prevention of infectious diseases.