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University of York Scientist in Running for Award


12:06am 1st February 2013

The Director of an internationally recognised research centre at the University of York is a finalist in the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Innovator of the Year 2013 competition.

Professor Ian Graham, who heads the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) at York, is a finalist in the Social Innovator of the Year category.

The Innovator of the Year competition recognises the efforts of BBSRC-funded scientists to take their work beyond the laboratory and deliver social and economic advantages.

The Innovator of the Year finalists compete in one of the three categories; 'Commercial Innovator', 'Social Innovator' and 'Most Promising Innovator' which reflect the breadth of the benefits delivered by BBSRC's investment in UK bioscience. One of the category winners will be chosen as the overall Innovator of the Year by an independent panel of expert judges.

As Director of CNAP, Professor Graham has applied modern molecular breeding approaches to develop improved varieties of two of the world's major pharmaceutical crops -- Artemisia annua, the main source of the leading anti-malarial drug artemisinin and Papaver somniferum (opium poppy), the primary source of opiate painkillers.

In parallel with the release of improved commercial varieties of both these crops, the underpinning science was published in two landmark papers in the journal Science in 2010 and 2012.

Professor Graham also played a key role in the establishment of the York Biorenewables Development Centre, a not-for-profit company providing industry with new processes to convert plants and biowastes into high value products.

"I am honoured to make the final in the company of such a distinguished group of fellow scientists. It is recognition of the efforts of all the CNAP team in seeking new ways of treating some of the world's most intractable diseases and novel approaches to biorenewables," he said.

Winners in each category will receive a £10,000 award to support research, training or other activities promoting economic or social impact. The overall winner will receive a further £5,000 and their department will receive £15,000.

Professor Graham will find out if he has won the title at a final in central London on 20 March 2013. The competition forms part of BBSRC's Fostering Innovation programme celebrating the success of scientists, knowledge exchange practitioners and institutions which have translated excellent research into social and economic benefits.

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