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Although the biotechnology techniques used by Dr. Michiels are not regulated by biosafety protocols they represent another exciting biotechnology alternative that becomes part of the toolbox for addressing pressing needs in many countries. Developing countries can and should explore these and other alternative to see if they can help resolve productivity and production constraints, some which in many cases cannot be resolved by any available means.

IFPRI -Environment and Production Technology Division

cordially invites you to attend a

Brown Bag Seminar on

 

“Innovative Technologies and Business Models in the Development and Delivery of Novel Seeds”

by

Dr. An Michiels

CEO

KeyGene Inc.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

12:00 – 2:00 pm

5A Conference Room Fifth Floor IFPRI 2033 K Street NW

Contact: Patricia Zambrano, Jose Falck-Zepeda or Pilar Rickert

(Go-To-Meeting provided upon request)

Abstract

Last October, the United Nations declared that 7 billion people inhabit the world. Of these 7 billion, close to 1 billion are chronically malnourished and another billion are undernourished. As the rate of population growth outstrips the rate of yield growth for crops, the world faces a food crisis that will require unprecedented intellectual, material, and financial investment.

Part of the world has embraced genetic engineering solutions to increase crop production, but it has not been without difficulty. Research and development of genetically modified (GM) crops is expensive and it can take up to a decade to bring a GM crop to market. GM crop developers often face burdensome regulation that adds even more to the cost and time to develop new transgenic varieties. Navigating through the patent maze and extensive licensing negotiations of genetic engineering tools, applications, and plant patents has been a challenge. Moreover, negative public perception and the ban of GM food on the grounds of environmental and health concerns in several European countries have hamper innovation in GM crop development.

To meet growing food demands, a full deployment of plant breeding technologies will be required, including the generation of transgenic crops. Policymakers can embrace also affordable, innovative technology platforms such as advanced molecular breeding [1] and mutation breeding [2] and explore alternative investment models for trait development through public-private collaborations. KeyGene Company has entered the seed market within this framework. KeyGene is a molecular genetics R&D company that established a molecular genetic response to the world’s need for stability in the yield, quality, and health of crops. KeyGene has assisted many breeding organizations by providing cutting edge breeding technology and trait improvement platforms for many vegetables, maize, beans, wheat, rice, and sorghum. KeyGene has its headquarters in Wageningen, the Netherlands; a subsidiary in Rockville, Maryland, USA; and a Joint Lab at the Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences in Shanghai, China.

[1] Breeding by applying advanced molecular technologies such as next generation sequencing, sequence-based genotyping, whole genome profiling, whole genome sequencing and other bioinformatics tools

[2] Exploring and exploiting natural and induced mutations using high throughput and sensitive DNA screening techniques such as next generation sequencing, to detect single base mutations in trait gene of interest to improve crop production

Bio

Dr. An Michiels is the CEO of KeyGene, Inc., the US subsidiary of a Netherlands-based plant genomics company focused on developing and applying molecular genetics in plant breeding. She has an extensive experience in plant biotechnology, next generation sequencing, and high throughput screening. She founded KeyGene’s US subsidiary in Maryland and leads the company’s bioinformatics research and business activities in the US. Under Dr. Michiels’ supervision, the bioinformatics group has established a non-GM trait pipeline to improve crops for drought tolerance; disease resistance and other abiotic stress factors, applying lead discovery and mutation breeding.

Dr. Michiels earned her Ph.D in Applied Molecular Biology from the University of Leuven and received graduate degrees in Bioengineering and Education from the same university. She was a research associate at IFPRI’s EPT Division working with Bonwoo Koo on “knowledge dissemination in plant transformation research” and worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Maryland. Before joining KeyGene, she completed a fellowship program at the American Association for Advancement of Science, working on assessment of academic performance, where she developed strategies and tools to evaluate national and state standards and benchmarks. Throughout her career, Dr. Michiels served as reviewer for the National Scientific Foundation and has been active in organizations such as American Association for Advancement of Science, Maryland Biotechnology and Technology Council of Maryland.

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