Bioinformatics specialist for NIAB

NIAB, the Cambridge-based crop research organisation, has appointed Professor Mario Caccamo to the new senior role of Head of Crop Bioinformatics from August 1st. The move significantly strengthens its agri-data science capabilities.

Prof Caccamo is currently director of The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council facility near Norwich. His 15 years’ experience in life science research and big data includes work on specific projects to apply the latest DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics methods to help advance the scientific understanding of crop genetics and the interaction of agricultural crops with their environments. He led the work to assemble 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.

NIAB chief executive Dr Tina Barsby says the creation of this new role underpins the Institute’s strategic objective to harness the latest advances in data science to support innovation in crop genetic research and improve the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of UK crop production systems.

“Integrating the latest advances in data science alongside expertise in plant breeding, agronomy and farming systems will be key to unlocking a step-change improvement in UK crop production. NIAB’s vision is to lead a new revolution in agri-data, not only in the increased application of bioinformatics to our own research, but also through our involvement in the new £12m Centre for Agricultural Informatics and Sustainability Metrics – the first Centre of Innovation to be announced under the UK Government’s Agri-Tech Strategy. We are delighted to recruit a scientist of Mario’s calibre and experience to lead and develop NIAB’s activities in this area.”