One of Don's main research interests is using zebrafish as models of human disease. Zebrafish provide him with a tool to investigate both single-gene diseases, and diseases caused by mutations in a number of different genes. An example of a single-gene disease is Huntington’s Disease, where only one gene is affected. An example of a multifactorial disease is inflammatory bowel disorder.
We are actually playing a full role in international science...
As well as directing the research of a small team of people, Don enjoys interacting with students and giving lectures.
Don was interested in maths and physics at high school, but it was not until his second year of university that he was exposed to biology for the first time. He got so caught up in it that he ended up doing a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Adelaide. Don then moved to Auckland where he did postdoctoral research using thermophilic organisms from the hot pools of Rotorua. This led to a four year stint at the University of Oxford, England, where he worked on human heritable diseases. The following year was spent at the University of Cambridge investigating a rare, heritable cancer.
In 1993 Don returned to the University of Auckland to establish a Human Molecular Genetics Group. The work that this group does has evolved to specialise in creating models of human disease.
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Watching movies (usually old ones), reading books on the themes of magic and fantasy (as well physics and maths), being with his girls and doing whatever his wife suggests is a good thing to do.
This article is based on information current in 2007.