Professor Dale Sanders FRS starts as Director and Chief Executive

Professor Dale Sanders FRS has taken up his post of Director and Chief Executive of the John Innes Centre.

He was appointed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the John Innes Foundation and the John Innes Centre Governing Council.

Prof Sanders was formerly Head of the Department of Biology at the University of York. He joined York in 1983 as a lecturer, following a PhD at the University of Cambridge and a five-year post-doctoral fellowship at Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, USA. Professor Sanders assumed his current post as Head of Department in 2004.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001. 

Professor Sanders is a leading authority on the mechanisms for the transport of chemical elements across cell membranes in plants.

These mechanisms have key roles in the control of crucial crop traits such as nutritional value of foods, seed germination, the response to drought conditions and how plants cope with toxic compounds in the soil.

Professor Sanders also works on the basic science of specialised plant transport mechanisms which have important but currently poorly understood roles in plant biology. He has authored over 140 scientific papers, many of which have been highly cited.

BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell, said: “Professor Sanders is a leading and internationally recognised plant scientist. He brings an exceptional track record in plant membrane transport that will complement the John Innes Centre’s world-class research teams and management experience that will help him to build on the strong legacy of the previous Director, the late Chris Lamb”.

“I am much looking forward to working with Professor Sanders as he helps to capitalise on the John Innes Centre’s scientific strengths to contribute to BBSRC’s recently announced strategic aims of helping to strengthen global food security and industrial biotechnology, and to generate knowledge to underpin health.”

Professor Sanders said: “The John Innes Centre has an unrivalled global reputation for excellence in plant and microbial sciences.”

“I am looking forward to leading the Centre in building on its scientific strengths and harnessing its expertise for the benefit of society in the UK and beyond. John Innes Centre scientists – who have established international acclaim for world-leading basic research – can help to shape the future of our world, through contributing to the development of new, higher quality or disease resistant crops to improve food security, and by discovering new antibiotics from studies in microbes.”

“It will be a privilege to work with front-rank scientists and to lead the Institute in the coming years.”

Professor Michael Bevan said: “Professor Sanders brings a new perspective and a wealth of experience in scientific leadership from a leading University to the John Innes Centre that will help guide our science in the future. He takes over an exceptionally strong and productive research Centre that is making significant contributions to several important challenges facing our society, such as food security and health.”

Professor Sanders succeeds Professor Chris Lamb CBE FRS who died in August 2009. Prof Mike Bevan has been Acting Director in the intervening period. 

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