22 June 2023

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Harrold van den Burg named professor by special appointment in Phytopathology at UvA

Harrold van den Burg, VP Innovation for Crops at KeyGene, has been named professor by special appointment in the field of Phytopathology, with a special focus on plant virology at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciencesat the University of Amsterdam (UvA). This chair was established by theStichting Foodvalley, with the support of KeyGene. The establishment makes a solid connection with Foodvalley’s mission to provide affordable, healthy and sustainable food.

“In this position, Van den Burg can connect academic research & training with the challenges of the international agrifood business today, in practice,” says Marjolein Brasz, CEO Foodvalley.

Van den Burg’s chair focuses on understanding and applying fundamental processes in plant-pathogen interactions to improve food security. The emphasis will therefore be on research, training and project acquisition in applied plant pathology and addressing the effect of plant viruses and bacteria on crop yield.

“Agriculture worldwide is continuously facing new pests and diseases. State-of-the-art knowledge can often serve as a starting point for concrete innovations that can help protect our crops. At the same time, fundamental questions from plant breeding businesses can serve as an inspiration for the development of new knowledge and the training of young scientists. My ambition is to contribute to both of these tracks.” says Harrold van den Burg.

Van den Burg summarizes the combination of these tracks as ‘crop-model-crop’. “Questions arise in the cultivation of crops, fundamental scientific research is often done using model plants, and these innovative findings can and should contribute to improved crops.”

“We are proud to be able to participate in and contribute to academic research and training.” says Roeland van Ham, CEO of KeyGene. “And, of course, it is great to engage with young talents, contribute to their development and provide opportunities for them at KeyGene for internships or positions in our research.” This is especially attractive for UvA students since KeyGene is a research organization where the latest fundamental knowledge is combined with questions and needs from plant breeders to develop and apply relevant technology innovation for crop improvement”.