Professor Xiangming Xu becomes Director of Research at NIAB

4 Nov 2022

NIAB has announced that Professor Xiangming Xu has become Director of Research.

Formerly Head of Science at NIAB’s horticultural centre at East Malling in Kent, Professor Xu is now responsible for developing and delivering the strategy for research activities across the whole of NIAB. This is in addition to his role in co-ordinating research activities at East Malling.

NIAB CEO Professor Mario Caccamo says: “Xiangming has a strong track record in developing research funding and scientific publication outcomes, and has mentored many NIAB scientists, based both in East Malling and Cambridge. He was already part of our Executive Team, and it was an obvious step to expand his role to cover all of NIAB, where he will continue to develop our research strategy and provide strong scientific leadership.”

A crop agronomy graduate from YangZhou University in China, Professor Xu completed his PhD in plant qualitative genetics and plant breeding at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in Aberystwyth in 1989. He joined Horticulture Research International (now NIAB) at East Malling in Kent in 1991 as a plant pathologist, becoming Head of Science in 2020, after leading roles in genetics and crop improvement and in pest and pathogen ecology. Professor Xu’s own research activities centre on quantitative epidemiology - developing genetics-based control strategies of important pathogens and diseases on perennial crops alongside host-pathogen co-evolution. His overall research objective is to develop and implement sustainable and integrated disease management strategies.

Professor Xu says: “I am honoured to take this exciting role and recognise there is a lot to learn because of the huge breadth of research activities, from fundamental to translational research, undertaken at NIAB. I will endeavour to work closely with my colleagues across the organisation to increase NIAB’s effectiveness in securing research grants and delivering research outcomes.”

Professor Xu will be supported by Dr Sigrid Heuer, who leads the wheat pre-breeding work in Cambridge, and will work closely with him in a deputy role including taking the leading role in working with the Crop Science Centre, a collaborative initiative between NIAB and the University of Cambridge.