The ancient chemical war on our ocean floors | Chris Battershill

From below the Antarctic sea ice to sewage outfalls, Chris Battershill deep dives into the biodiversity discussion that is so relevant to our own Bay of Plenty coast line.

Chris Battershill became the inaugural Professor and Chair of Coastal Science with the University of Waikato in January 2011. He has returned to New Zealand following twelve years as leader of the Marine Resources and Biodiversity Teams at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), focusing on coastal processes, conservation, oil and gas industry development in the north and west of Australia, new species aquaculture and biodiscovery.

From an MSc in environmental toxicology (Maui Environmental Program), he completed his PhD at Auckland University in reef ecology in 1986 then undertook a three year Research Fellowship funded by the National Cancer Institute (US) based at the University of Canterbury, where he led the biological program associated discovery of anti-cancer active chemicals from New Zealand seas. He did Post Doc work in Australia and then worked at DoC and NIWA for 11 years focusing on sedimentary impacts on coastal ecosystems, sustainability of marine resource use, again building capacity in research associated with drug discovery from marine sources. The drug Halaven® and two other leads, now in late phase preclinical trial at the NCI, resulted from the New Zealand teams’ work, and four drug leads were advanced in Australia.

Chris Battershill’s research in the field of Marine Biotechnology has been based on examining the ecological role of biologically active metabolites from marine invertebrates and algae, thus allowing translation to applied uses for medicine and agriculture. The outcome is providing the leads for remedies needed by society. An underpinning driver is valuing marine biodiversity and championing its conservation.