The NIAB board has appointed deputy director Professor Mario Caccamo as its new chief executive from October 2021. He succeeds Dr Tina Barsby who is retiring after 15 years as NIAB director and chief executive.

Prof Caccamo joined NIAB from The Earlham Institute (then the Genome Analysis Centre) as head of crop bioinformatics in 2015, subsequently becoming managing director of the NIAB EMR research station in Kent in 2017. NIAB acquired the former East Malling Research station in 2016, since when Prof Caccamo has overseen growth in its research and commercial activity as well as a multi-million-pound redevelopment programme.

He has over two decades’ experience in life science research and big data, including specific projects to apply DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics methods to advance scientific understanding of crop genetics and the interaction of agricultural crops with their environment.

“Prof Caccamo’s scientific, commercial and managerial expertise offers the right combination to continue and build upon NIAB’s phenomenal expansion in crop research and service provision achieved through the ambitious, wide-ranging programme of diversification, investment, merger and acquisition led by Tina over the past decade,” says NIAB board chairman Jim Godfrey.

Prof Caccamo adds: “NIAB has the scientific breadth and track record to rapidly respond to the challenges imposed by climate change and the opportunities opened by the UK’s current political landscape. This includes cementing NIAB’s leadership role – for example, in the uptake of protein crops; working towards a net-zero agenda; the effective adoption of automation and data science; and the development of modern breeding technologies.