Christopher Darby

Support Specialist Head of International Strategy and Partnerships

Chris Darby is Head of International Strategy and Partnerships at the John Innes Centre.

His work ensures that both the excellence and impact of our science are strengthened through international engagement.

Chris is PI for our joint initiative with the Chinese Academy of Sciences – the Centre for Excellence in Plant and Microbial Sciences (CEPAMS), which has supported 30 Sino-UK research collaborations in the past six years and has established ten CEPAMS research groups in both Beijing and Shanghai.

Chris coordinates our research and capacity-building activity in Africa, for example with the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA-ILRI) research hub in Nairobi, with the African Women in Agricultural R&D (AWARD) programme and with the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research (EIAR).

Chris has led initiatives to affirm our position in a pan-continental European Research Area. He coordinates a trilateral research partnership between the John Innes Centre, the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) in Barcelona and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding (MPIPZ) in Cologne. Chris is a member of the General Assembly of the “Plants for the Future” European Technology Platform.

Chris is Research Coordinator at the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development, based in the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia, where he fosters new transdisciplinary collaborations across the Norwich Research Park.

Chris divides his time between offices in Norwich (at the John Innes Centre and UEA), Beijing and Shanghai.

Chris was formerly a Civil Servant, working in a number of UK home departments and for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was Secretary to the UK Government’s Global Science and Innovation Forum and author of the UK’s Strategy for International Engagement in R&D.

He has served as the UK’s Sherpa to the G7 Carnegie Group of science ministers and as Head of Science and Innovation for the FCO in India.

On the international stage, Chris was closely involved with the policy shift towards joint research programming with key partner countries, including the creation of UKRI offices overseas. On the European stage, Chris played a key role, during the last UK Presidency of the EU, in the establishment of a European Research Council (ERC).

Chris has an initial scientific background in nutrition and was seconded by the UK Government to be Chief Executive of the UK Nutrition Society.