Three leading Chinese plant scientists are to visit the University of Leeds this week, as part of a research partnership between Leeds and Beijing which takes advantage of their complementary areas of expertise.
The Plant Sciences partnership between Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences and the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences began last August and is the first UK link for this prestigious Chinese research institute.
Director of the Insitute, Professor Yongbiao Xue, plant genome expert, Professor Rongxiang Fang and Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor Jiayang Li, have been awarded honorary visiting professorships at the University of Leeds by the deputy-vice-chancellor ProfessorJohn Fisher.
Plant scientists from the University of Leeds are already working with applied agricultural specialists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences on projects looking at the role of genes within crop plants, particularly rice. Other areas of collaboration include how plants react to environmental stress, such as high salt levels, and ways to mitigate the impact of crop parasites. To enable collaboration across the geographical divide, a 'virtual laboratory' has been created, where researchers can share information and research data.
Pro-Dean for Research in Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, Professor Phil Gilmartin said: "Leeds already had close links with the Chinese Academy of Sciences before the agreement was signed last year - so it was interesting to see the Demos 'Atlas of Ideas' report in January cautioning UK universities to start thinking about these types of collaborations. Leeds is already well down this road and we hope this visit will help to strengthen the partnership and ensure it bears fruit for both parties."
Similar projects are already underway with other countries highlighted in the Demos report, as Director of the Centre for Plant Sciences, Professor Brendan Davies explains: "We hope to follow a similar model in India as we have in China and have already been awarded an India partnering award from the BBSRC. This will fund a delegation from the Centre to look at plant science projects in India, make links and start some joint pilot projects."
The Leeds China partnership is supported by a China Partnering Award from the BBSRC and a grant from the University of Leeds' international fund, designed to assist the development of high-level international partnerships.
Photo: Left to right: Faculty of Biological Sciences Professors Howard Atkinson, Phil Gilmartin and Brendan Davies with Professors Yongbiao Xue, Rongxiang Fang and Jiayang Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
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