Royal Society honour for distinguished John Innes Centre scientist

Professor Cathie Martin, a project leader in metabolic biology at the John Innes Centre, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

In a long and distinguished career at the John Innes Centre, Professor Martin has been a powerful advocate and practitioner in the application of plant science for human health.

She becomes the 29th scientist in the 108-year history of the John Innes Centre to receive the honour.

The Fellowship of the Royal Society is made up of the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists working in the UK and Commonwealth. Past Fellows and Foreign Members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Stephen Hawking.

“This is an honour and I would like to thank the many inspiring colleagues and collaborators particularly from the John Innes Centre and from around the world who have worked with me along the way,” said Professor Martin.

In a 35-year career at the John Innes Centre, Professor Martin has researched plant genetics and metabolism to provide new insights into plant developmental and metabolic processes.

Her work has made important contributions to the understanding of cell shaping and to the biosynthesis and diversity of plant polyphenolic molecules which are beneficial to human health.

Her current work investigates the relationship between food and health – specifically how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease.

Professor Martin has a collaborative research programme in China on Chinese Medicinal Plants, particularly those producing anti-cancer metabolites used for complementary therapies.

She has a collaborative project with research institutes in Kenya and Ethiopia to develop the resilient legume, grass pea, as a high protein food and forage crop, suitable for sub-Saharan Africa.

She was Editor-in-Chief of The Plant Cell (2008-2014) and is now an Associate Editor for Plant Physiology. She is a member of EMBO, AAAS, a fellow of ASPB and in 2014 was awarded an MBE for services to plant biotechnology.

Director of the John Innes Centre Professor Dale Sanders said: “This honour is truly well deserved. It recognises Cathie’s outstanding research on the genetics of plant metabolism, as well as her wide-reaching contributions to the research community.”

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine.

The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

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