John Innes Centre Researchers Receives Grand Challenges Explorations Grant

8th Nov 2012

The John Innes Centre announced that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Professor George Lomonossoff will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Plant Immunisation – a technology for crop virus control”

We’re looking for a new way of ‘Immunizing’ plants against viruses that can cause devastating crop losses” said Professor Lomonossoff. “We hope to show that we can deploy a technique we have developed that rapidly produces proteins in plants to react quickly to the emergence of new plant virus diseases”

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) funds individuals worldwide who are taking innovative approaches to some of the world’s toughest and persistent global health and development challenges. GCE invests in the early stages of bold ideas that have real potential to solve the problems people in the developing world face every day. Prof. Lomonossoff’s project is one of over 80 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 grants announced today by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Investments in innovative global health research are already paying off,” said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We continue to be impressed by the novelty and innovative spirit of Grand Challenges Explorations projects and are enthusiastic about this exciting research. These investments hold real potential to yield new solutions to improve the health of millions of people in the developing world, and ensure that everyone has the chance to live a healthy productive life.”

To receive funding, Prof. Lomonossoff and other Grand Challenges Explorations Round 9 winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a creative idea in one of five critical global heath and development topic areas that included agriculture development, immunization and communications. Applications for the current open round, Grand Challenges Explorations Round 10, will be accepted through November 7, 2012.

Prof. Lomonossoff’s project involves the development of a novel system for rapidly protecting plants against viral disease using transient expression of the viral coat protein. Previous research has shown expression of virus coat protein can protect a plant from with the virus from which it was derived. The project will use plant symbiotic bacteria to deliver constructs expressing the coat protein of a number of viruses to susceptible crop plants. This will be followed by an assessment of whether expression of the coat protein can provide protection against viral infection. If this can be achieved, it will provide a highly responsive means of combatting new plant viral infections and will make an important contribution to increasing the efficiency of world agriculture.

The project will make use of an expression technology recently developed in Prof. Lomonossoff’s laboratory for which he received the award of “Innovator of the Year 2012” from the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC), UK. The research will be undertaken in the Department of Biological Chemistry at the John Innes Centre, which is strategically funded by BBSRC.

Back to List »
Share |