Professor James Brown

posted Jan 21, 2016, 8:43 AM by Tim Birdsall   [ updated Jan 21, 2016, 8:43 AM ]
Professor James Brown
Professor James Brown was at Malsis in the early Sixties before going on to  Rugby.  He had three other brothers - Simon, Christopher and Colin - all of whom attended Malsis.  They were brought up on a farm in Borgue, Kirkcudbrightshire.  He studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University (1979-82), beginning by studying physics and chemistry and finishing by specialising in population genetics.  En route, he was introduced to the wonders of plant pathogens and fungi.  After doing voluntary work in India and Nepal, he studied for his PhD at the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge (1984-8) and won a Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge (1987).  He was then appointed to a project leader position at the Institutes of Plant Science Research (1989), now part of the John Innes Centre, Norwich, where he still works.

His research has concerned the adaptation of fungal pathogens to crops, including virulence on plant varieties and insensitivity to fungicides, and improving methods of breeding plants for disease resistance.  Diseases he and his team have studied include powdery mildew of barley, wheat and cucurbits, Septoria tritici blotch of wheat, yellow rust of wheat and most recently Ramularia leaf spot of barley.  In his most recent research, he is applying genetics to investigate complex problems in controlling plant disease.  He was awarded the Research Medal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in 2010.

He is currently associate head of the Department of Disease and Stress Biology at the John Innes Centre.  He is also Chairman of the European and Mediterranean Cereal Rust Foundation, Chairman of the U.K. Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey, pathology specialist on the Crop Evaluation Wheat Committee and member of editorial boards of journals, including Plant Pathology.