Science Advisory Board

Professor George Lomonossoff

George Lomonossoff graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1976 and studied for his His Ph.D. at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), Cambridge. He moved to the John Innes Centre, Norwich in 1980 and has continued to work there ever since apart from two periods of sabbatical leave in the USA. George's research has focused on the molecular biology of RNA plant viruses and their use in bio- and nanotechnology. In recent years his research has involved the development of efficient transient expression technologies for the rapid production of high value proteins in plants.

He is an honorary professor at the University of East Anglia and has co-ordinated several EU Framework consortia. In 2012 he was named “BBSRC Innovator of the year” for his work on plant-made pharmaceuticals and in 2015 delivered the Society of General Microbiology Colworth Prize Lecture.

Professor Barbara Ann Halkier

Professor Barbara Ann Halkier is a leading expert in the field of pathway elucidation, identification of biosynthetic genes, regulation and transport processes of specialized metabolites, particularly the glucosinolates. She is also the Head of the DynaMo Center of Excellence, where a pathway-centric approach is taken to understand molecular processes – synthesis/turnover, transport, regulatory network, metabolite sensing – across cellular, tissue and organismal levels, using Arabidopsis thaliana and glucosinolates as model system.

The gained basic knowledge is translated into pathway and transport engineering to increase plant disease resistance, to remove of anti-nutritional factors in seed meal, and to promote human health by production of high-value bioactive compounds in tobacco and microbial organisms.

Simon Saxby

Simon has over thirty years of global international experience in life sciences, including his recent roles as CEO of Stratophase Ltd and Project Director for the design and build of the UK Government’s Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult commercial scale GMP Manufacturing Centre in Stevenage. He is a course mentor for the Cambridge University MBE programme and has also served as a Visiting Lecturer in Industrial Biotechnology at Vienna Medical and Technical University, and as a Course Student Advisor at The Boston University School of Management, USA. He was appointed as CEO of Leaf Expression Systems in August 2018.

Professor Julian Ma

Professor Julian Ma is the Hotung Chair of Molecular Immunology and Director of the Institute for Infection and Immunity at St. George’s, University of London. Julian graduated in dentistry at Guy's Hospital in 1983, and went on there to gain his PhD in immunology, studying topical anti-microbial immunotherapy in the mouth, using monoclonal antibodies. He was a post-doctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California in the laboratory which pioneered the expression of recombinant antibodies in genetically modified plants. On his return to the UK, his research group developed the first monoclonal secretory antibody expressed in plants and its clinical applications in preventing tooth decay.

He moved to St. George’s in 2003 to explore the wider applications of plant biotechnology for global infectious diseases. His research group now studies basic mechanisms of protein assembly, processing and expression in plant cells, as well as the design, engineering and clinical applications of novel recombinant proteins in plants for systemic and mucosal vaccination and immunotherapy. His work focuses on infectious diseases that predominantly affect the poor in developing countries, including HIV, rabies, chikungunya, dengue, Ebola and TB. Julian is a leading proponent in Europe for the development of plant biotechnology for medicines for human health and has led several major European research consortia, notably performing the first ever clinical safety trial in humans of an HIV antibody produced in tobacco plants.