New leadership for horticultural R&D organisation NIAB EMR

UK crop research organisation NIAB has appointed Professor Mario Caccamo as Managing Director of NIAB EMR, its Kent-based horticultural and environmental research and development division.

Professor Caccamo takes over from current MD David Neill in April 2017. Mr Neill will return to his former position as NIAB’s Chief Operating Officer, based at Cambridge.

NIAB CEO Dr Tina Barsby said: “Since the acquisition of East Malling Research in February 2016, and the creation of NIAB EMR, we have focussed on maintaining income growth and introducing the organisational changes required to ensure NIAB EMR remains at the forefront of independent applied horticultural research in the UK and worldwide.

“We now want to focus on our research and commercial growth strategy, realising the opportunities offered by the wider NIAB Group. Mario will play a key role in this evolution, bringing energy and scientific leadership to the role and driving forward our ambitious research strategy.”

Professor Caccamo joined NIAB in July 2015 as Head of Crop Bioinformatics. He will continue in this role, leading NIAB’s expanding bioinformatics and agri-data activities, in addition to his new position at NIAB EMR.

A computer scientist by training, Professor Caccamo has over 15 years’ experience in life science research and big data, including specific projects to apply the latest DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics methods to advance scientific understanding of crop genetics and the interaction of agricultural crops with their environment. Former positions include Director of The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), which is now known as The Earlham Institute.

Professor Caccamo led work on the assembly of the first whole-genome release of the wheat reference sequence and was also one of the founding co-chairs of the expert working group within the Wheat Initiative focused on the deployment of an international Wheat Information System. He also has a leading role in the cereal bioinformatics communities at both national and international levels.

Welcoming his new role at NIAB, Professor Caccamo said: “The research opportunities in the horticulture sector both nationally, focused on UK crops, and internationally, working with scientific organisations in the developing world, have never been greater. NIAB EMR’s world-class scientists are already leading in the application of novel solutions for horticulture and I am very excited about the opportunity to lead this team to even greater achievements,” said Professor Caccamo.

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