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Hutton Seminar Series: Plant virus nanoparticles and "wrap & plant" technologies for nematode disease control

Hutton Seminars
3 March 2017, 11am
at James Hutton Institute, New Seminar Room (Dundee) and Macaulay B (Aberdeen)
for scientists, students, researchers and anyone interested
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Plant viruses cause major crop losses, and because of this their biology and chemical aspects have been studied extensively for the last century. While this has generally been exploited to uncover viral pathogenic mechanisms, these studies have also generated a plethora of data which in very recent years have been exploited to manipulate viruses into being safe and useful tools for biotechnology. Viruses can be rendered genome-free, producing protein nanocages which can be loaded with functional molecules. Applications of this emerging technology are myriad - biomedicine (therapy and diagnosis), agriculture, micro and nanodevices including electronics and bioreactors. In the first talk of the Hutton Seminar Series, Dr Steven Lommel, a pioneer in the field of virus derived technologies, will focus on the use of virus derived nanoparticles in agricultural and environmental applications, which may also have implications for other disciplines.

Steven A Lommel is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology. He is Director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina State University. He is leading the build out of the Plant Sciences Initiative. Dr Lommel conducts research on plant virus pathogenesis, evolution and taxonomy. Dr Lommel’s research on virion structure and assembly at the molecular and atomic level is leading towards using small RNA plant viruses as nano-cargo vessels for the targeted delivery of therapeutics to cancer cells and for seed treatments in agricultural applications. As a result of this research Dr Lommel co-founded and is a Scientific Advisor for the company Nanovector. Dr Lommel has an active research program funded by the NSF, USDA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop RCNMV as a nanoscale packaging and delivery vehicle. Dr Lommel was the co-investigator on a project that sequenced the Nicotiana Genome.  His teaching responsibilities include graduate courses in Plant Pathology and Plant Virology as well as invited lectures in Biotechnology and Genetics.  Dr Lommel is the editor for the Journal “Virology” and is on the editorial board for four other scientific journals. He has published more than 100 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, reviews and proceedings. He is a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr Lommel obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of San Francisco in 1978. He obtained his doctoral degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983. He was an Assistant Professor at Kansas State University. Dr Lommel joined the faculty at NCSU in 1988 and has risen through the ranks. He held a number of research administration positions at both the College and University level since 1992. Dr Lommel serves as special scientific advisor to the US EPA on the release of transgenic crops. He administrates North Carolina State University’s presence at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. He is on the Board of Directors for the David H. Murdock Research Institute and was the President of the Institute. He also serves on numerous University, State, Federal and International Scientific Boards, Committees and funding panels. See his staff page on the NCSU website for more information.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.