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Sir David Baulcombe

Head of Group, Royal Society Research Professor
Sir David Baulcombe
Department of Plant Sciences
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3EA
Office Phone: 01223 339386

Biography:

Personal and Higher Education

British citizen; married with four children; interests include music, sailing and hill walking

1970-1973       University of Leeds B.Sc (I) - Botany
1973-1977       University of Edinburgh Ph.D - Botany

Career

Jan. 1977-Nov. 1978       McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Post-doctoral Fellow

Dec. 1978-Dec. 1980       University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Post-doctoral Fellow

Dec. 1980-Aug. 1988         Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, UK
Higher Scientific Officer (from April 1986 Principal Scientific Officer)

Aug. 1988-Aug. 2007         The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK
Senior Research Scientist and Head of Laboratory (from 1990-1993 and 1999-2003), Professor of University of East Anglia (2002-7)

Sep. 2007-onwards           University of Cambridge, Cambridge UK
Regius Professor of Botany, Royal Society Research Professor and Head of the Department of Plant Sciences until 2017

Personal Interests

Personal and Higher Education

British citizen; married with four children; interests include music, sailing and hill walking

1970-1973       University of Leeds B.Sc (I) - Botany
1973-1977       University of Edinburgh Ph.D - Botany

Career

Jan. 1977-Nov. 1978       McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Post-doctoral Fellow

Dec. 1978-Dec. 1980       University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Post-doctoral Fellow

Dec. 1980-Aug. 1988         Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, UK
Higher Scientific Officer (from April 1986 Principal Scientific Officer)

Aug. 1988-Aug. 2007         The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK
Senior Research Scientist and Head of Laboratory (from 1990-1993 and 1999-2003), Professor of University of East Anglia (2002-7)

Sep. 2007-onwards           University of Cambridge, Cambridge UK
Regius Professor of Botany, Royal Society Research Professor and Head of the Department of Plant Sciences until 2017

 

Honours and Awards

Major Awards and recognition

  • Gruber Genetics Prize (2014) Gruber Foundation USA (shared with Ambros and Ruvkun)
  • Balzan Prize (2012) (for epigenetics) Balzan Foundation, Rome
  • Wolf Prize for Agriculture (2010) Wolf Foundation Israel
  • Knight Bachelor, (Queens Birthday Honours list 2009)
  • Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2008) Lasker Foundation (shared with Ambros and Ruvkun)
  • Royal Medal (2006) The Royal Society
  • Foreign Associate Member of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) (elected 2005)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 2001)

Awards

  • Sir Hans Krebs Medal and Lecture (2021) Federation of European Biochemical Societies
  • Mendel Medal (2017) Genetics Society
  • Prize Medal Lecture (2015) Society for General Microbiology
  • The McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics and Genome Studies (2014) Maize Genetics Executive Committee;
  • Harvey Prize in Science and Technology (2009) Technion Israel Institute of Technology
  • Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science (2008) Franklin Institute, Philadelphia (joint with Ambros and Ruvkun)
  • Special Achievement Award (2008) Miami Winter Symposium
  • Massry Prize (2005) Massry Foundation – University of Southern California (shared with Fire and Mello)
  • M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize (2004) Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Wiley Prize in Biomedical Science (2003) (Wiley Foundation – Rockefeller University - shared with Fire, Mello and Tuschl)
  • Ruth Allen Award, American Phytopathology Society (2002)
  • Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (2002) Kumho Cultural Foundation, Korea
  • Prix des Cerealiers de France (1990) for work on hormonally regulated genes of cereals

Elected Fellowships

  • Lifetime Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (2020)
  • Honorary Fellow (2020) Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (elected 2015)
  • Corresponding Member (2013) Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences Barcelona
  • Foreign Fellow (2011) National Academy of Science, India
  • Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (elected 2010)
  • Fellow, Trinity College Cambridge (elected 2009-2019 then Emeritus)
  • Honorary Professor, University of East Anglia (1998-2002)
  • Academia Europaea, Member (elected 2002)
  • European Molecular Biology Organisation, Member (elected 1997)

Academic Societies

  • President Biochemical Society (Jan 2015 – December 2017)
  • President International Society for Plant Molecular Biology (2003 – 2006)

Honorary Degrees

  • DSc (Hon) University of Leeds (2015)
  • Honorary Doctorate University of Helsinki (2014)
  • DSc (Hon) Edinburgh (2014)
  • DL (Hon) Dundee (2014)
  • DSc (Hon) University of East Anglia (2011)
  • DSc (Hon) University of Birmingham (2011)
  • Honorary Doctorate Wageningen Agricultural University (2008)

Current and recent community service

  • Lawes Agricultural Trustee (2009-)
  • Rothamsted Research – Trustee Board Member (2012-)
  • Biochemical Society President (2015-7 );
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Member, 2009-2016)
  • Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell, Science Advisory Board (2015-18)
  • Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge (Management Board, Chair) (2010-6)
  • Institute of Plant and Microbial Biology Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan (2018 -)
  • EMBO Council Member (2021- )

Current and recent research  funding

  • *ERC-2008-Advanced Investigator Grant (233325) ‘REVOLUTION’ 1-3-2009 28-12-2013 (RNA mediated regulation in growth, development and evolution (E2.3M)
  • *Royal Society Research Professorship: September 2007 – September 2022 (salary + £90K research expense pa from 2017 (£16K until 2017)
  • *ERC 2013-Advanced Investigator Grant (340642) ‘TRIBE’ (Transgressive phenotypes in breeding and evolution) 1-3-2014 28-2-2019 (E2.4M)
  • *Syngenta – Analysis of Heterosis in Tomato (undisclosed amount – 2 researchers + expenses FEC) 1-1-14 to 30-6-16
  • cBBSRC–EPSRC BB/LO1413 OpenPlant £12M Synthetic biology grant with JIC – Baulcombe and Sanders PIs
  • *BBSRC  BB/P020321/1 – ‘Molecular dissection of paramutation in tomato’ 1-10-17 to 30-09-20 (£665K)
  • *BBSRC  BB//R018529/1 - An RNA cascade and disease resistance in tomato 1-1-19 to 31-12-21 (£645K)
  • *BBSRC BB/T013117/1- Epigenetics and hidden heritability in tomato1-1-21 to 31-12-24 (£732K)
  • *PI  cCo I

Research Interests

Much of my current research follows from the discovery in my Norwich laboratory of a novel type of regulatory RNA - siRNA. Current projects in the laboratory focus on the mechanisms of siRNA-mediated regulation in disease resistance and their influence on natural variation. In this respect, my work links with JS Henslow who was Professor of Botany in the nineteen century and who influenced Darwin. I am also interested in the influence of siRNA on heritable effects that do not involve changes to the sequence of the genome. Understanding these 'epigenetic' effects is central to any discussion about nurture and nature.

Outside the laboratory I promote the use of plant biotechnology including gene editing and GM for crop improvement. I am particularly interested in technologies addressing problems in developing countries with emphasis on disease resistance.

Key Publications

See Google Scholar

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