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New Director for Rothamsted Research

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14 January 2010

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Governing Body of Rothamsted Research and the Trustees of the Lawes Agricultural Trust are pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Maurice Moloney as Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research. He will assume the full duties of his post from 15 April 2010.

Rothamsted Research is one of the Institutes of BBSRC and, established over 160 years ago, is almost certainly the oldest agricultural research centre in the world. It has research campuses at Harpenden in Hertfordshire, North Wyke in Devon and Broom’s Barn, Suffolk.

Professor Maurice Moloney
Professor Maurice Moloney. © BBSRC.

Professor Moloney is currently Chief Scientific Officer of SemBioSys Genetics Inc, based in Calgary, Canada. He founded the company in 1994 and has maintained this role alongside a successful academic career at the University of Calgary, where he serves as NSERC/Dow AgroSciences Industrial Research Professor of Plant Biotechnology.

Professor Moloney has authored over 80 scientific papers in high profile international journals and holds over 300 patents in plant biotechnology worldwide. He is a leading authority on plant cell biology, especially seed biology and its biotechnological applications in crop improvement and in using plants to produce high value proteins such as therapeutics and novel high-value lipids. Professor Moloney also has significant experience of research policymaking having served on the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada 2002-2008 (a Privy Council appointment).

Before moving to Calgary, Professor Moloney led the Cell Biology group at Calgene Inc. in Davis, California, developing the world’s first transgenic oilseeds, which resulted in RoundUp Ready® Canola and other novel crops. He was previously a Royal Society European Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell said: “Maurice Moloney brings a unique combination of skills and experience that combines top class plant cell science with effective translation of research into successful business activity. His experience of leadership in academic, commercial and policy arenas will help Rothamsted Research to capitalise fully on its scientific strengths and play its full role working closely with other UK and international partners, in delivering the UK’s R&D priorities in food security and sustainable bioenergy.”

Professor Moloney said: “Rothamsted Research is one of the most powerful engines for agricultural research in the world. It will be a great privilege to lead future scientific developments at the Institute and to deploy its science in meeting the challenges of sustainable food supply, bio-based energy and mitigation of agriculture’s carbon footprint for the benefit of both UK and global agriculture. I also welcome the opportunity to build on Rothamsted’s strong reputation for training the next generation of skilled researchers in agricultural bioscience.”

Acting Director at Rothamsted Research, Professor Peter Shewry welcomed the news: “Maurice’s leadership will not only ensure our research is of the highest international quality, but also build on our strength in ensuring it is translated into useful outcomes for the industry and the public.”

Professor Nick Talbot, Chair of the Rothamsted Board of Directors welcomed the appointment saying: “Maurice Moloney will bring new ideas and leadership to Rothamsted. He has an excellent track record of making fundamental scientific discoveries and applying these to produce new crops and tools for farmers. I look forward to working with him in the future.”

Originally from Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan in Ireland, Prof Moloney, 57, returns to Europe to take up the post in April 2010. After studying chemistry at Imperial College, London, he was awarded a PhD in Plant Biology at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University) in 1979. As a postgraduate student, Prof Moloney won a Wain Fellowship from the Agricultural Research Council, a forerunner of BBSRC, which he used to join the laboratory of Professor Robert Cleland at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, USA. The results of the Wain Fellowship were published in top-tier journals and became a significant foundation for Prof Moloney’s research career.

Prof Moloney will be the 12th Director at Rothamsted since 1843 He succeeds Professor Ian Crute CBE, who retired from the institute in 2009 and is now Chief Scientist at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.


Notes to editors

Images are available on request. Interviews available with Professor Moloney on request. See contacts below.

About Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research is based in Hertfordshire and is one of the largest agricultural research institutes in the country. The mission of Rothamsted Research is to be recognised internationally as a primary source of first-class scientific research and new knowledge that addresses stakeholder requirements for innovative policies, products and practices to enhance the economic, environmental and societal value of agricultural land. The Applied Crop Science department is based at Broom's Barn, Higham, Bury St. Edmunds. North Wyke Research is located near Okehampton in Devon.

About the Lawes Agricultural Trust

Sir John Bennet Lawes, with Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert, established Rothamsted Experimental Station in 1843. In 1889 Sir John Bennet Lawes established and endowed the Lawes Agricultural Trust, which operated the Station from 1889 to 1990. In 1990, the business and undertaking of the Station was transferred from the Trust to a completely independent charitable company of the same name, which changed its name to Rothamsted Research in 2002.

The charitable objects of the Lawes Agricultural Trust, to support agricultural science, are fulfilled through providing support for Rothamsted Research in a number of ways:

  • The land and most buildings at Rothamsted are owned by the Trust and occupied by Rothamsted without lease and free of charges for the time being.
  • It provides an annual research grant to the Director including support for visiting scientists from developing countries and joint PhD studentships.
  • It provides residential accommodation for nearly 200 people in differing housing facilities and combinations, for the use of staff, students and visiting workers and their families.

About the Wain Fund

The Wain Fund, which finances the Wain Fellowships, is a trust fund established with income from patents on the discoveries of the late Professor R L Wain CBE FRS in the field of selective herbicides. The aim of the Wain Fund is to award a limited number of Fellowships each year to enable young UK-based scientists to gain short-term research experience overseas in the area of agriculture and fundamental underpinning research with the BBSRC remit.

The fund is administered by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) on behalf of the Trustees (BBSRC Council). It is a private fund and a registered charity.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

External contact

Sharon Hall, Rothamsted Research

tel: 01582 763133


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382