Board appointment strengthens NIAB research links with Cambridge University

2 Nov 2008

David Baulcombe, Royal Society Research Professor and Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge, has joined the Board of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

An award-winning scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Society, Professor Baulcombe leads a research team credited with advancing our knowledge of how plants fight disease, and in particular how a process known as RNA silencing controls a range of growth and developmental responses in plants.

Welcoming his new role at NIAB, Professor Baulcombe said:

“This is an exciting time for everyone involved in plant science. There has been a dramatic increase in our genetic understanding of plants, much of it led by UK scientists, opening up huge opportunities to improve crop plants for the benefit of society. This coincides with a time when the need to boost crop productivity is increasingly recognised at the highest political levels, not only to feed a rapidly growing world population but also to cope with the effects of climate change and develop renewable, plant-based alternatives to a range of depleting industrial resources.”

“However, there is also a recognition that the research pipeline which transfers new knowledge into improved crop varieties is not functioning effectively. Much of the basic research work takes place in model crop species, and there is a vital missing link in the translational research needed to turn new knowledge into material of relevance to UK agriculture.”

“I believe NIAB has a unique contribution to make in this area, acting as a bridge between basic research discoveries on one side, and the practical needs of plant breeders, farmers and consumers on the other,” he said.

Commenting on Professor Baulcombe’s appointment, NIAB chief executive Dr Tina Barsby said:

“Cambridge is rapidly consolidating its position as the pre-eminent location for plant science research and innovation. I believe we will see closer collaboration between researchers at NIAB and University departments, as well as an expansion of the thriving network of plant breeding and bioscience organisations in and around the city.”

“Professor Baulcombe’s appointment to the Board further strengthens NIAB’s links with those communities, and adds significantly to our prospects of success in helping to transform today’s scientific discoveries into tomorrow’s commercial crops,” she added.   

Issued by:
Daniel Pearsall, Front Foot Communications
T: 01487 831425
E: daniel.pearsall [at] ( )