Phil WilcoxThe Virtual Institute of Statistical Genomics is a multi-organisation e-Research collaboration between New Zealand statisticians and geneticists. The VISG was conceived in 2007 as a MapNet initiative. The aim is to develop statistical methods to better use the mountain of data generated by new genomics technologies.

Considerable scientific investment has resulted in massive DNA datasets for species important to New Zealand. These DNA databanks range from human DNA through to genomes of such diverse species as rumen bacteria, sheep, cattle and plantation forestry species. Making sense of all these data requires expertise in high-powered computing, database management and advanced statistical methods. It requires skills in genetics, statistical genetics, bioinformatics and computing.

The VISG is a nationally-important capability in statistical genetics that will establish New Zealand as a world leader in advanced statistical methods for gene mapping by 2014.

How we work

The VISG undertakes research in specific project areas as defined by end-user geneticists from the New Zealand gene mapping community. Research is conducted by project teams consisting of both statisticians and geneticists, usually from multiple organisations, within each team. The VISG is coordinated by the programme leader, assisted by a Project Governance Group which involves senior VISG researchers, science managers and overseas-based renowned statistical geneticists.

The project makes use of recently developed NZ-wide computational infrastructure such as the KAREN network, BeSTGRID and the University of Canterbury Supercomputing resources.


VISG participants

Participants are from Scion Research, Environmental Science and Research (ESR) Ltd., Universities of Auckland and Otago, AgResearch, Plant and Food Research and ViaLactia Biosciences Ltd. Key members of the Virtual Institute of Statistical Genomics are:


Rod Ball, Scion, Lead Statistician (Bayesian Statistician)
Ken Dodds, AgResearch, Lead Statistician
Mik BlackMik Black, University of Otago, Lead Statistician and Bioinformaticist
Thomas Lumley, University of Auckland


Phillip Wilcox, Scion, Lead Geneticist, and Project Governance Group member and Project Leader (2008-2013)
Gail Timmerman-Vaughan, Plant and Food Research Ltd, Lead Geneticist and Project Governance Group member
Tony Merriman, University of Otago, Lead Geneticist and Project Governance Group member
David Chagne, Plant and Food Research Ltd, Geneticist
John McCallum, Plant and Food Research Ltd, Geneticist
Samantha Baldwin, Plant and Food Research Ltd, Geneticist
Murray Cadzow, University of Otago
Hoang tan Nguyen, Univesity of Otago

Project Governance Group members

Bruce Weir, Chair and Professor of Biostatistics, University of Washington
Peter Visscher, Senior Principal Research Fellow, Queensland Institute of Medical Research
Phillip Wilcox, Scion
Gail Timmerman-Vaughan, Plant and Food Ltd.
Tony Merriman, University of Otago

University of AucklandspacerViaLactia BiosciencesspacerScionspacer

Plant and Food ResearchspacerAgResearchspacerESRspacerUniv of Otagospacer