Researchers often spend time in the field and Dr Mark Oliver is no exception – except his field is often full of sheep.
Dr Oliver is a biomedical researcher using sheep to study human disease, injuries, therapeutics and management of conditions and recovery. More formally, he is a Senior Research Fellow/Research Facility Manager at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute with a masters in ruminant physiology (University of Waikato) and a PhD in fetal growth physiology (University of Auckland).
He established and manages a unique and versatile facility focused on sheep nutrition, health and reproductive biology that also includes proof of concept for medical devices. The facility partners with Landcorp Farming, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer.
“This partnership demonstrates how research can aid farming success by better understanding the link between maternal nutrition and reproductive biology at the same time as we seek to improve animal health and welfare,” he says
The sheep also help advance human knowledge around fetal, maternal and child health, because what we learn from sheep has the potential to be translated for humans. Dr Oliver says the laboratory is unmatched in New Zealand for utility, cost-effectiveness and appropriateness for medical technology studies that require comparable species.
“Our biomedical research focuses on the causes and consequences of pregnancy complications and related conditions such as fetal growth restriction, preterm birth, maternal nutrition and age, maternal obesity and twinning/ multiple pregnancies.”
Dr Oliver is researching the consequences of premature birth and fetal growth restriction (FGR) for postnatal physiology, growth and health of offspring, and developing treatments for FGR during pregnancy.
He says his “core aim is to help in collaborative ventures while providing an ethical, professional and quality research experience.” This includes new collaborations with researchers in medicine, surgery, pharmacy, and at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. He says this fits with his research philosophy which is to always look for synergies between biomedical, production, and animal health and welfare.
Although a recent Associate Investigator of the MedTech CoRE, Dr Oliver has had a long standing relationship with the CoRE’s RegenMed team in the area of bone scaffold developments. He is looking forward to collaborating with the wider CoRE community in the development and translation of new medical devices and therapies for human health.