Professor Dirk Inzé (Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology) receives the 2017 GCHERA World Agriculture Prize.
With this award GCHERA (Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences) recognizes Professor Inzé for his exceptional and significant life time achievements in the field of agricultural and life sciences.
The World Agriculture Prize is yearly awarded to an academic/faculty member from a higher education institution working in the disciplines relating to the agricultural and life sciences. The World Agriculture Prize aims to encourage the global development of the mission of higher education institutions in education, research and innovation in the agricultural and life sciences by recognizing the distinguished contribution of an individual to this mission.
Prof Inzé life time achievements were introduced by John Kennelly, President of GCHERA, and Prof Inzé was presented with a trophy by Qixin Sun the President of China Agricultural University at the Award Ceremony at Nanjing Agricultural University.
John Kennelly, President of GCHERA: "This is the fifth time that the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize is being awarded. Professor Inze has much in common with previous GCHERA World Agriculture Prize Laureates in that his career has spanned the spectrum of education, research, innovation and extension and he has made an extraordinary impact in his scientific field. Professor Inzé made many seminal contributions to our understanding of cell cycle regulation in plants. He was the first to identify and functionally characterize numerous core components of the plant cell cycle machinery. Professor Inzé realized his research could benefit crop growth and improve yields. To validate this concept, he founded the spin-off company CropDesign in 1998. The presence of this company at the Technology Park of Ghent University also attracted other agricultural biotech companies to settle on campus, including Bayer and Syngenta. Currently, nearly one thousand people are working on basic plant biology and crop improvement at the Agro-Biotech campus in Ghent."
Dr Julia Bailey-Serres, Professor of Genetics at the University of California, Riverside had this to say about this year’s laureate. "Professor Inzé has an extraordinary track record of coalescing ideas and innovators to advance research that addresses critical questions. This has involved his long term leadership of the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology and activity in the plant biotechnology industry. Through his discoveries and leadership, fundamental discoveries that are key to plant growth and development are being effectively translated to crops, which is essential for a promising future of mankind".
Professor Ron Mittler, Director of the Genomics Center at the University of North Texas states "Dirk continues to have an immense impact on how the public, scientific community, and industry view basic plant biology research, and the many ways in which the field of plant biology can contribute to the improvement of crop yield and crop tolerance to drought, heat and other environmental stresses that impact agricultural production on a global scale. His scientific, educational and public work and leadership in these fields are extremely important to the scientific community as a whole, as well as to our society". Professor Mittler continues "I have learned to think of Dirk as one of my very few idols in science and a true leader that influenced not only research and educational ideas, but also government and regulatory agency standards and practices"
The pioneering work of Dirk Inzé in the 80s - early 90s on the cell cycle regulation in plants was awarded the prestigious prize of the Körber Foundation (Germany), presented by the German president in 1994. In 2005, Dirk Inzé was awarded the prestigious Francqui Prize for his cell cycle work. He also received the esteemed five-yearly prize of the FWO, the principal research funding agency in Belgium.
In 1998 Dirk Inzé co-founded the spin-off company CropDesign, together with the Tech Transfer Offices of VIB and Ghent University. Dirk Inzé was appointed Science Director of the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology (PSB) in 2002. Under his directorship, PSB transformed to one of the world-leading centers working on various aspects of plant development and responses to abiotic stresses. His own group of some 30 researchers is well supported by various large grants, including the prestigious Advanced ERC Grant of the EU. In recent years, Dirk Inzé made numerous outstanding contributions to the molecular understanding of plant growth. His research opened new perspectives for developing high yielding, climate resilient crops.
Prof. Dirk Inzé is awarded the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize on 28 October 2017 during the 9th GCHERA World Conference at the Nanjing Agricultural University in China. The prize of 50,000 USD is generously sponsored by the Education Development Foundation of Nanjing Agricultural University and Da Bei Nong Group.
The GCHERA World Agriculture Prize
The GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (WAP) was proposed by both Prof. ZHAI Huqu, the former President of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and Prof. ZHOU Guanghong, the President of NJAU and Chairman of Education Professional Committee (EPC) of the Chinese Association of Agricultural Science Societies (CAASS) on October 20, 2012 in the occasion of NJAU’s 110th anniversary. The prize was approved at the GCHERA General Assembly in Uruguay on 29 October 2012. The prize is now generously sponsored by the Education Development Foundation of Nanjing Agricultural University and Da Bei Nong Group.
The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences
The Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences (GCHERA) was established in 1998 but in 2011 the governance structure was changed so that instead of individual university membership, its membership is now made up of 14 worldwide higher education associations who themselves represent individual universities in the agricultural and life sciences areas. For example, China is represented by the Education Professional Committee of the Chinese Association of Agricultural Sciences Societies, Europe is represented by the Association for European Life Science Universities, USA is represented by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and Canada is represented by the Association of Canadian Faculties of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.
The Mission of GCHERA is to encourage and support global co-operation among agricultural and life sciences higher education associations, and their member universities, so as to enhance innovation and leadership in education, research and outreach. GCHERA provides a forum for sharing of best practices as well as being a global voice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. Agricultural and life science universities have a critical role to play in providing the human resources and the research and innovation needed to meet the challenge of feeding a rapidly growing world population whilst reducing the environmental footprint of our food and non food production systems.