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New Director for world’s oldest agricultural research institute

14 January 2010

Professor Maurice MoloneyProfessor Maurice Moloney has been announced as the new Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research. He will take up the full duties of his new post from 15 April 2010.

At 160 years old, Rothamsted Research is almost certainly the oldest agricultural research institute in the world and has unique facilities and expertise vital for research to deliver food security. Prof Moloney becomes the 12th Director in the Institute’s history.

Rothamsted Research is an institute of BBSRC, which has made the appointment together with the Governing Body of Rothamsted Research and the Trustees of the Lawes Agricultural Trust.
BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell said: “Maurice Moloney brings a unique combination of skills and experience that combines top class plant cell science with effective translation of research into successful business activity. His experience of leadership in academic, commercial and policy arenas will help Rothamsted Research to capitalise fully on its scientific strengths and play its full role working closely with other UK and international partners, in delivering the UK’s R&D priorities in food security and sustainable bioenergy.”

Sorting weed seeds in the testimonial laboratory at what is now Rothamsted Research, 1890 (click for larger version)

Professor Moloney said: “Rothamsted Research is one of the most powerful engines for agricultural research in the world. It will be a great privilege to lead future scientific developments at the Institute and to deploy its science in meeting the challenges of sustainable food supply, bio-based energy and mitigation of agriculture’s carbon footprint for the benefit of both UK and global agriculture. I also welcome the opportunity to build on Rothamsted’s strong reputation for training the next generation of skilled researchers in agricultural bioscience.”

Professor Moloney is currently Chief Scientific Officer of SemBioSys Genetics Inc, based in Calgary, Canada. He founded the company in 1994 and has maintained this role alongside a successful academic career at the University of Calgary, where he serves as NSERC/Dow AgroSciences Industrial Research Professor of Plant Biotechnology.

Rothamsted Research has been sampling and storing crops and soils for 150 years (click for larger version)

Professor Moloney has authored over 80 scientific papers in high profile international journals and holds over 300 patents in plant biotechnology worldwide. He is a leading authority on plant cell biology, especially seed biology and its biotechnological applications in crop improvement and in using plants to produce high value proteins such as therapeutics and novel high-value lipids. Professor Moloney also has significant experience of research policymaking having served on the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada 2002-2008 (a Privy Council appointment).   

Before moving to Calgary, Professor Moloney led the Cell Biology group at Calgene Inc. in Davis, California, developing the world’s first transgenic oilseeds, which resulted in RoundUp Ready® Canola and other novel crops. He was previously a Royal Society European Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Rothamsted Research has research campuses at Harpenden in Hertfordshire, North Wyke in Devon and Broom’s Barn, Suffolk.