Prestigious fellowship to help develop resistance to crop diseases

An award-winning molecular biologist will take up a post at the University of Dundee after receiving a prestigious fellowship aiming to develop the future leaders of scientific research in the UK.

Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker will take up the post within the University’s Division of Plant Sciences, based at The James Hutton Institute in February. He was awarded an Anniversary Future Leadership Fellowship of almost £300,000 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for his project, ‘A synthetic biology approach to develop durable disease resistance in crops’.

Dr Eves-van den Akker is one of 12 researchers to receive a fellowship under the AFLF scheme, which forms part of a programme to mark the 20th anniversary of the BBSRC. It will enable early career scientists to carry out independent research while receiving support to gain leadership skills, representing BBSRC’s continued commitment to the supply of highly skilled professional scientists in the UK.

He will collaborate with Paul Birch, Professor of Plant Pathology and Deputy Head of Division of Plant Sciences at Dundee, and will also spend part of his time at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, where he will work alongside Dr Mark Banfield. The ultimate aim of his work is to develop synthetic plant proteins for crop species, to deliver novel mechanisms of disease resistance.

Dr Eves-van den Akker said, “I am thrilled to be given such a prestigious award and keen to get started. The chance to work on an area of particular interest at two fantastic host institutions is the best possible career start following my PhD.”

Fellows will receive funding for research, a personal salary, provisions and training as part of the £3million-plus Anniversary Future Leadership Fellowship investment.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Executive Director of Innovation & Skills said, “Our Anniversary Future Leader Fellowships enable us to develop future research leaders in areas of fundamental importance to BBSRC and UK bioscience, by providing support for their development as independent researchers. In doing so, BBSRC demonstrates its continued investment in supporting the UK bioscience research base to deliver world-leading research with wide-ranging benefits for society."


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