The Hopkirk Research Institute

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The Hopkirk Research Institute hosts researchers working in the area of on-farm and off-farm research. By utilising cutting edge technology researchers are developing better strategies and solutions to improve animal health, and food safety supporting our primary and food industries.

The Hopkirk Research Institute is situated on Massey University's Turitea campus at Palmerston North, adjacent to Massey's Institute for Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences (IVABS).

Scientists are from both AgResearch and Massey University. They both collaborate on and complement each others skills in:

  • Developing effective vaccines to combat animal infectious disease, including bovine tuberculosis, Johne's disease, mastitis and pneumonia
  • Researching greenhouse gas mitigation methodology, focussed on vaccines
  • Food microbiology; food safety and shelf-life
  • Development and validation of antimicrobial interventions and technologies
  • Environmental microbiology; zoonoses, sources and effects on ecosystems
  • Identification of microorganisms involved in fermentations, probiotics, and bioremediation
  • Emerging technologies such as light disinfection, cold plasma and hyperspectral imaging
  • Advanced diagnostic platforms for veterinary and food safety area
  • Researching and evaluating solutions for the sustainable control of parasitic diseases, primarily in sheep and cattle
  • Investigating the immune response of animals to health, disease, nutrition and welfare.

Having both organisations under one roof fosters collaborative research. Working at the Hopkirk Research Institute assimilates the skills, expertise and knowledge of immunologists and microbiologists from AgResearch with epidemiologists, pathologists, and veterinary public health from Massey University.

In addition, scientists from other Crown Research Institute’s and private companies utilise the first-class facilities available at the Hopkirk Research Institute, which enables human research and unique diagnostic services for animals.

Areas of research

Research teams from AgResearch and Massey University are led by internationally recognised researchers in their respective fields.

Our multi-disciplinary research involves integrated science capability teams, as well as collaboration with external science groups with the aim to develop new vaccines and advanced diagnostic technologies to improve farm management systems. An important part of our remit is to establish and maintain strong links with national and international stakeholders, particularly those in the pastoral sector of Aotearoa.

These programmes include:

  • Immunology of infectious diseases
  • Vaccine development to mitigate methane
  • Disease-associated novel biomarkers (microRNAs)
  • Food safety
  • Emerging technologies in food safety and assurance
  • Predictive modelling
  • Advanced diagnostics
  • Parasitology
  • Veterinary public health
  • One-Health: where human, veterinary and environmental research can interact.

Our facilities

The award winning building supports the processes and procedures that are integral to world-class research. The building has six labs on each of the two main floors run at a Physical Containment 2 (PC2) level of containment and another three run at PC3, providing a safe environment for critical research involving restricted biological materials and highly pathogenic microorganisms (Risk Group 3 micro-organisms) such as Mycobacterium bovis and Mycoplasma bovis.

The Hopkirk Research Institute is equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation providing options for a number of commercial services. These instruments are also available for use by external researchers.

Nanostring nCounter: Nanostring facility (one of three in NZ) providing miRNAs and mRNA expression analysis using this novel technology to various organisations (Plant & Food and the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research).

Flow cytometry facility: Equipped with latest Cytek Aurora spectral analyser capable of running 26 colours in a single panel to characterise functional immune cells.

 Commercial services:

  • Bovine Tb diagnostics for OSPRI, TBfree
  • CARLA testing for Beef and Lamb and Deer Industry New Zealand
  • Food quality testing for the New Zealand meat industry
  • Mycoplasma bovis testing for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

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PC3 laboratory at the Hopkirk Research Institute


Nanostring technology at the Hopkirk Research Institute

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Massey University
Link to Massey University website
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Link to a map of the Massey University Manawatū campus
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The dairy farm of the future
To find out more, please contact the Head of the Institute,
Dr Natalie Parlane
+64 6 351 8692