A new vision and Executive Director for The Sainsbury Laboratory

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The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich launches its new vision and announces the appointment of Professor Nicholas Talbot FRS as Executive Director.

Nick Talbot

Professor Talbot is a world-renowned expert in molecular plant pathology. He is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact at the University of Exeter, and leads an internationally renowned research group. Professor Talbot will be joining The Sainsbury Laboratory in September 2018.

He says: “I am greatly honoured to be joining the world’s premier laboratory for the study of plant-microbe interactions. The Sainsbury Laboratory is home to some extraordinarily talented scientists and I am looking forward to working with them. We have some exciting times ahead, with new hires to come and many other new developments that will keep the laboratory at the forefront of its field”

The appointment of an Executive Director ushers in a new era for the Laboratory; cementing an updated governance structure, refreshed vision, and renewed research and capital funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. These exciting developments coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the upcoming 30th anniversary of The Sainsbury Laboratory.

The current Head of Laboratory, Professor Cyril Zipfel comments: “This is excellent news; Professor Talbot will bring a wealth of excellent scientific and administrative experience. His appointment, coupled with the new strategic vision and confirmed funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, will thus ensure the excellence and impact of TSL for the many years to come.”

Peter Hesketh, Director of The Gatsby Charitable Foundation said: “This is fantastic news - myself, Gatsby Trustees and David Sainsbury are all delighted. Nick has been an invaluable plant science advisor to the Foundation for many years and has been involved in the success of several of our research programmes. After almost three decades, TSL has built an incredible international reputation for scientific excellence. As the Laboratory now charts an innovative and ambitious future, we can think of no-one better placed than Nick to lead TSL in taking forward its new strategic vision.”

The new scientific and strategic vision will further strengthen the position of The Sainsbury Laboratory as a global institute for plant health that focusses on the fundamental and translational research required to tackle important and emerging plant diseases affecting crop production worldwide.

This new vision will be further enabled by an even closer partnership with the University of East Anglia, where Prof Talbot was awarded his PhD in 1990, the Two Blades Foundation, and other research institutes present on the Norwich Research Park.

Prof David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, said: “I am delighted by the appointment of Professor Talbot and by the University’s future partnership with The Sainsbury Laboratory, which will help to deliver an exciting vision addressing the major global challenges in plant disease resistance.”

Professor Zipfel explains: “Our new vision is based on an iterative cycle that takes scientific findings from the laboratory to the field and vice-versa to guide advances in disease control. This approach aims to ensure sustainable food security in the face of climate change and emerging crop diseases”

Professor Zipfel, has been a driving force in enabling the re-structure and appointment of Professor Talbot into the newly created role. After 13 years at the Laboratory, Professor Zipfel will be moving on to a new role as Chair of Molecular & Cellular Plant Physiology at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) in June 2018, but will retain close links to The Sainsbury Laboratory into the future.