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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Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
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Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
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Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
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Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
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Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
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Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
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Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
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Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
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Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
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Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
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Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000