Keynote speakers


Announcing our guest speaker who will give the opening address on Sunday 19th August at the official opening of IAPB 2018.

Professor Ada Yonath
2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry


She is the Director of Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Assemblies at the Weizmann Inst (WIS), where she is a Professor. In the seventies she established the first structural-biology laboratory in Israel. In parallel, during 1986-2004 she headed Max-Planck-Research-Unit for Ribosome Structure in Hamburg, Germany. Among others, she is a member of US-National; Israel; German Pontificia Accademia-delle-Scienze (Vatican), Korean and holds honorary doctorates from Oslo, NYU, Mount-Sinai, Oxford, Cambridge, Hamburg, Berlin-Technical, Patras, De-La-Salle, Xiamen, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Mendel and Lodz Universities. Her awards include Louisa- Gross-Horwitz; Wolf, Harvey, Israel Prizes; Linus-Pauling Gold Medal; UNESCO/L’Oréal Award; Albert-Einstein Award for Excellence and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Her research interests include protein biosynthesis, on the antibiotics hampering this process and on origin of life.


Roger N. Beachy, Ph.D.
Chief Science Advisor
Indigo Agriculture, Boston
Professor of Biology, Emeritus
Washington University in St. Louis
Missouri, USA


Previously served as Executive Director of World Food Center, UC Davis, CA; and Global Institute for Food Security, Univ. of Saskatchewan. Beachy was appointed by Pres. Obama to the National Science Board in 2014; and 2009-2011 as Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in the U.S.D.A. He was President of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, 1999-‘09; professor at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, 1991-’99; and Washington Univ. 1978-‘91. Elected Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; Fellow of the AAAS, and American Academy of Microbiology; Foreign Associate/Fellow of Korea NAS, India NAS, The World Academy of Sciences. Awarded the Wolf Prize in Agriculture (2001), Bank of Delaware’s Commonwealth Award for Science and Industry (1991), the Ruth Allen award from the American Phytopathological Society (1990), others. Current focus includes increasing collaborations and innovations in science, and in science policy.


Kevin M. Folta
Professor and Chairman
Horticultural Sciences Department & Graduate Program in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology
Florida, USA


Kevin M. Folta is a Professor and the Chairman of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, overseeing and supporting teaching, research and extension efforts of more than 50 leading faculty in the nation’s #2 specialty crop state. His research program examines how light signals are sensed in plants and how different parts of the spectrum can change shelf life and high-value fruit and vegetable traits. His group also uses novel genomics approaches to identify genes related to flavor and disease resistance. An innovative new project is testing a method to create new small-molecule drugs for use in everything from plant growth regulation to MRSA. He has published over 85 peer-reviewed articles and edited two books, and led the 2011 publication of the strawberry genome sequence.

Kevin is a noted expert in in science communication. He is recognized for distilling complex topics for a curious public. His communications workshops focus on training scientists, farmers and physicians to effectively engage general audiences about agricultural innovations. He is a regular guest on popular podcasts, including Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria, and the Joe Rogan Experience. Kevin also frequently writes for popular media, and runs his weekly podcast Talking Biotech. These communications conduits serve to spread an important message about sustainably feeding a planet in 2050—all technologies must be considered, and innovation only moves to application with communication.

In 2016 he was recognized with the prestigious CAST Borlaug Award in Agricultural Communications and was announced as the Ag Pro Person of the Year. He was recognized in 2007 as an HHMI Distinguished Mentor of Undergraduate Research, 2008 with the NSF CAREER Award, in 2009 with the Northern Illinois University “LA&S Top 50 Graduates”, the 2010 UFRF Research Professor Award, and in 2013 was one of two faculty recognized with the UF Postdoctoral Mentoring Award.


Professor Christine A. Raines
School of Biological Sciences
University of Essex


Christine Raines graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) Agricultural Botany, First Class from Glasgow University in 1982. Following which she was awarded a Glasgow University Scholarship and studied for a Ph.D. in Photosynthetic electron transport graduating in1986. Christine’s post doctoral research started in late 1985 at the Institute of Plant Science Research, Cambridge where she initiated a project cloning nuclear genes encoding enzymes of the C3 cycle. In 1988 Christine was appointed to a faculty position at the University of Essex being promoted to Professor in 2004. Christine is currently Head of the School of Biological Sciences at Essex.

Christine also holds a number of external roles; Editor in Chief, Journal of Experimental Botany (2011- ), Chair of Plant Section, Society of Experimental Biology (2009- ), Co-Opted Member of UK Plant Federation Executive (2012- ). Past roles include Associate Editor, Journal of Experimental Botany (2006- 2011) and I have sat on SEB Plant Section Committee (2002- 2009), BBSRC Biofuels Committee (2007/8), EPSRC Bioenergy Committee (2008), Nuffield Bioethics Committee on Biofuels (2009-2011).

Christine’s research interests are in the area of plant molecular physiology including the isolation and characterisation of photosynthetic genes, analysis of gene expression and production and analysis of transgenic plants. Studies of limitations to photosynthetic carbon assimilation in transgenic plants have identified a target in the Calvin cycle for increasing plant yield. Current research are focused on improving photosynthesis by re-engineering photosynthetic carbon metabolism and electron transport.


Professor Poul Erik Jensen
Section for Molecular Plant Biology
University of Copenhagen


Poul has more than 20 years of research experience with photosynthesis, in particular photosystem I, chlorophyll biosynthesis and chloroplast biology ( Over the years his laboratory has elucidated the function of several subunits of the photosystem I complex, characterized enzymes in the chlorophyll biosynthesis and gained expertise in handling and characterizing photosynthetic membrane protein-pigment complexes. In recent years, his focus has been on synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and reconstituting biosynthetic pathways in photosynthetic organisms. Specifically his group have combined cytochrome P450 dependent biosynthetic pathways and photosystems in both chloroplasts of higher plants and cyanobacteria to achieve redirection of photosynthetic electrons towards new pathways. In these projects, the pathways use light-dependent reducing power generated by photosystem I directly. They have successfully inserted multiple genes in operons and expressed them in cyanobacteria and higher plant chloroplasts. Since 2016 he has headed the Copenhagen Plant Science Centre (CPSC,


Sarah E.O’Connor
Professor of Chemistry
John Innes Centre
Norwich Research Park


Plants and microbes produce an enormous number of complex molecules called secondary or specialized metabolites. These compounds play varied and rich roles in the environment. Moreover, many of these compounds have life-saving properties and are used in both traditional and modern medicine. Sarah’s research group are developing approaches to elucidate and engineer specialized plant metabolism to understand the fundamental chemical, biological and evolutionary processes that underlie the biosynthesis of these complex molecules. Additionally, they develop platforms that allow fast and inexpensive production of these compounds, as well as platforms to produce unnatural variants of these products.


Prakash P. Kumar
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Republic of Singapore


Professor Prakash Kumar’s early education was from India, and PhD (1988) from Prof Trevor Thorpe’s lab at the University of Calgary, Canada. He joined the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1989, where he currently serves as a full professor at the Department of Biological Sciences. He is a prominent scientist in the fields of plant molecular developmental biology and biotechnology. He has supervised 25 PhD students at NUS. He is Editor of four international journals, namely, BMC Plant Biology, Frontiers in Plant Science, Plant Cell Reports and Plant Biotechnology Reports. Several of his 95 scientific papers are published in prestigious journals. In addition to a mangrove salinity tolerance work, he leads a major rice research program funded by the National Research Foundation, Singapore, in collaboration with TLL Singapore and IRRI Philippines. He has held several department and University-level senior administrative positions at the NUS and serves on National and International committees, including, Genetic Modification Advisory Committee, Singapore. He served as the Elected Secretary/Treasurer of Plant Biotechnology Section (2014 to 2016), Society for In Vitro Biology, USA.


Professor Cathie Martin
John Innes Centre,
Norwich Research Park,
Colney, Norwich


Cathie is a group leader at the John Innes Centre and Professor at the University of East Anglia. Her interests span from fundamental to applied plant science. She researches into the relationship between diet and health and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. This work has involved linking leading clinical and epidemiological researchers with plant breeders and metabolic engineers to develop scientific understanding of how diet can help to maintain health, promote healthy ageing and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Cathie is also involved in genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that cause nutritional diseases, and has recently initiated a collaborative project with China to research on Chinese Medicinal Plants.


Dr Angela Sessitsch
Austrian Institute of Technology


Dr. Angela Sessitsch heads the Bioresources Unit of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. She studied biochemistry at the University of Technology in Graz, holds a PhD in Microbiology from the Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and is habilitated at the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences. She has pioneered plant-associated microbiomes, particularly in the endosphere, and she is interested in understanding the interactions between plants, microbiomes and the environment as well as to develop applications. Her group explores the diversity and functioning of plant microbiota by applying a range of molecular approaches, interaction modes between plants and model bacteria, colonization behaviour of endophytes as well as various application technologies for biocontrol and crop enhancement applications. Together with her group A. Sessitsch published more than 150 peer-reviewed publications.


Professor Sophien Kamoun
The Sainsbury Laboratory


Sophien Kamoun joined The Sainsbury Laboratory in 2007 and served as Head of Laboratory from 2009 to 2014. He also holds the rank of Professor of Biology at The University of East Anglia. Prof. Kamoun received his B.S. degree from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California at Davis in 1991. He then was a postdoctoral fellow at the NSF Center for Engineering Plants for Resistance Against Pathogens, UC Davis, and at the Department of Phytopathology, Wageningen University, Netherlands. From 1998-2007, Prof. Kamoun was on the faculty at the Ohio State University, Department of Plant Pathology, Wooster campus. At The Sainsbury Laboratory, Prof. Kamoun studies the interactions between plants and pathogens, combining molecular and comparative analyses to interpret mechanisms of pathogenicity and immunity from an evolutionary perspective. Throughout his career, Prof. Kamoun made unique and ground-breaking contributions to understanding plant-parasite interactions. He discovered the first families of virulence effector proteins from oomycetes, the group of plant pathogens that includes the Irish potato famine pathogen. He developed a mechanistic understanding of how effectors modulate plant immunity, establishing how antagonistic coevolution with host plants impacts pathogen genomes. His pioneering work on effector biology and pathogenomics resulted in new approaches to breeding disease resistant crops. Prof. Kamoun received the American Phytopathological Society Syngenta Award in 2003 and the Noel Keen Award in 2013. He was elected to the Academia Europaea in 2011, EMBO in 2015, received a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Award in 2011, and is a Thomson Reuters 2014/2015 Highly Cited Researcher.Kamoun Lab Web Site Twitter @KamounLab


Professor Rainer Fischer
CSIO at Indiana Biosciences Research Institute
Indianapolis, USA


Prof. Dr. Rainer Fischer has been Department Head of the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (RWTH Aachen University, Germany, 70 employees) and Senior Executive Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (680 employees including the Fraunhofer US CMB and Fraunhofer Chile Research CSB with german subsidiaries in Aachen, Schmallenberg, Münster, Giessen, Frankfurt and Hamburg). As of April 1st 2017 Prof. Fischer assumed a new position as CSIO at the IBRI (Indiana Biosciences Research Institute) in Indianapolis, IN, USA.
His expertise covers many areas of molecular biotechnology including genomics, proteomics, cellomics, protein engineering, molecular medicine, immunology, virology, plant biotechnology, as well as the production and purification of recombinant proteins, secondary metabolites and plant derived polymers as well as regulatory approval.
Over the past 15 years, Prof. Fischer has established the Fraunhofer IME in Germany and its foreign subsidiary the Fraunhofer CMB in Newark, DE, USA, and most recently the Fraunhofer Center for Systems Biotechnology in Chile, as well as the Institute for Molecular Biotechnology at the RWTH Aachen University. He is the cofounder of five biotech start-ups and the Aachen-Maastricht Institute of Biobased Materials (AMIBM). Together with his team he has raised over 800 million Euro in funding for Fraunhofer IME in Germany, more than 180 million USD in the US and Chile and over 30 million Euro for RWTH Aachen University.
110 PhD, over 200 master & diploma students and 100 bachelor students have graduated from the institutes led by Prof. Fischer. Furthermore, Prof. Fischer has given over 650 scientific presentations, written over 330 peer-reviewed scientific publications and published 52 book chapters. His papers have been cited over 15.000 times and his current H-factor is 64. Additionally, he holds 64 pending patent applications and 40 granted patents.


Dr Hugo De Groote

Coming soon

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Dr Randy Niedz

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